EAGLEVILLE — As week 12 of the coronavirus outbreak in Montgomery County came to a close on Friday, officials reported two more deaths from the virus and 81 additional individuals who have tested positive for the disease.
The latest two COVID-19 deaths included individuals who were 90 and 91, and the deaths bring the county’s death toll to 677 since March 7, when the first two cases of the virus were identified in the county, Commissioners’ Chairwoman Dr. Valerie Arkoosh said during a daily news briefing concerning the pandemic.
To date, 367 females and 310 males have died from the virus in the county. Officials said the racial breakdown for those that have died included: 16 Asian; three Asian Indian; two Asian Korean; 83 African American; and 227 white. Information about the ethnicity of the remaining 346 individuals was unavailable.
Arkoosh said 568 of the total 677 coronavirus deaths were county residents who lived in long-term care facilities, representing about 84 percent of the total deaths.
The 677 total deaths were “confirmed positive” COVID-19 cases through the use of lab tests.
Officials reported that as of Friday, 114 other deaths in the county have been listed as “probable” COVID-19 deaths. Those are deaths that list COVID-19 as a cause of death on a death certificate but in which there was no laboratory confirmation of the virus.
Arkoosh took time on Friday to acknowledge the county coroner’s office “that has been working incredibly hard with little recognition during this pandemic.”
“Our county coroner’s office is not one that most people are eager to get to know. But they have played such an important role during this pandemic,” said Arkoosh, acknowledging Coroner Dr. Michael Milbourne and First Deputy Coroner Alexander Balacki and his team.
According to Arkoosh, the coroner’s office has investigated 881 total deaths since March 22, when the first county resident died from COVID-19.
“This has been an enormous and difficult amount of work and I want to thank them all for their dedication and professionalism to this task,” Arkoosh said.
Meanwhile, officials reported a total of 81 new positive cases of the virus on Friday, bringing the county’s total number of cases to 6,859 since March 7. Seventeen of the latest individuals to test positive resided in long-term care facilities, one was an inmate at the county jail in Lower Providence and 63 were other members in the community.
The new positive cases included 38 males and 43 females who ranged in age from 1 to 98 and they lived in 26 different municipalities.
Arkoosh said the number of hospitalizations of COVID-19 patients decreased on Friday to 225 from 250 on Thursday. About 23 percent of those hospitalized still require ventilators, according to Arkoosh, who was joined at the news briefing by fellow commissioners Kenneth E. Lawrence Jr. and Joseph C. Gale.
Officials continue to monitor coronavirus data from the 75 long-term care facilities in the county that are licensed by the Pennsylvania Department of Health as well as from “other congregate care settings” in the county, for a total of about 620 facilities.
As of Friday, 94 of the facilities reported positive COVID-19 cases among residents and staff. Specifically, officials reported there are 1,878 cases among residents of the facilities and 687 cases among staff at the facilities, for a total of 2,565 positive individuals.
Officials said community-based testing opportunities continue to be available in Pottstown, Whitpain and Norristown.
A walkup testing site is available at the county’s Office of Public Health Pottstown Health Center at 364 King St. Testing is available Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. by appointment only. To make an appointment, residents should call 610-970-2937 beginning at 8:30 a.m. daily.
A drive-thru site at the central campus of the Montgomery County Community College in Whitpain is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily as testing supplies allow. Registration for each day’s appointments will open at 8 a.m. daily and will remain open until all available spots are filled. Individuals can register online at www.montcopa.org/COVID-19 or can call 610-631-3000 to register for a testing appointment. The drive-thru site will be closed on Sunday.
A walk-up community-based testing site for Norristown residents is located on the parking lot of the Delaware Valley Community Health Norristown Regional Health Center, 1401 DeKalb St. The free testing is provided by appointment only from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m. Monday through Friday.
In addition to being available to test Norristown residents, the site also offers tests to all established patients of the Delaware Valley Community Health Center regardless of where they reside, officials said. Residents can register for testing by calling 610-592-0680 starting at 8:30 a.m. daily.
Between April 16 and May 23, a total of 7,075 individuals were tested at the community-based testing sites and officials have received results for 6,931 individuals, 950 of whom tested positive for the virus. Officials said that equates to about a 14 percent positive rate over 32 days, which is a reduction from the highest 24 percent positive rate that was recorded around April 5.