Montgomery County announced Wednesday its COVID-19 Hotline — (833)-875-3967 — is now live for residents who are unable to access COVID-19 information online or are unable to navigate the Montgomery County website.
The hotline was created to answer any COVID-19 questions people may have if they can’t find answers online. It’s operational Monday through Saturday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and has Spanish-speaking agents and a special line with more than 100 different languages.
“The hotline cannot provide updates or timelines on vaccine pre-registration or troubleshoot issues with vaccine appointments,” said Montgomery County Commissioner Valerie Arkoosh. “It is only for general information. In the near future, people will be able to pre-register for the vaccine through this hotline. But that feature is not yet available. We expect it to be available next week, but please stay tuned.”
A lack of vaccine supply has forced the county to close their vaccine clinic at Norristown High School for the remainder of the week. They hope to reopen on Monday with a new shipment of first doses.
“As you recall the County Office of Public Health received only 1,000 first doses last week. As a consequence, we have used up all of our first doses as of the end of the day yesterday,” Arkoosh said.
Arkoosh did feel confident, however, that once Montgomery County started receiving more first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, it will be able to distribute them efficiently to those who qualify for phase 1A.
Currently, just seven percent (59,217) of MontCo residents have received their first dose, and 16,710 (2 percent) have received both doses.
Montgomery County now has a total of 44,435 confirmed coronavirus cases. From Feb. 3-9, there were a total 1,220 new cases, giving the county a daily average of 174 cases. There were 19 reported deaths in the same period, giving the county a total of 1,166 deaths. The ages of the victims ranged from 25 to 106.
The positivity rate in Montgomery County is 7.54 percent as of Feb. 4, down from 7.93 percent the previous week. The goal is to drive it down to five percent, which is considered suppression of the virus. The county’s positivity rate had been under or close to five percent for most of last summer, but it rose dramatically starting in October and November with the “fall surge.”
There are also four confirmed cases of the U.K. variant. None of the four people involved have traveled either domestically or abroad, nor have they attended any high-risk events.
“People should be aware that a variant that most data supports is more contagious than the original variant is in our midst and that people should be very careful with their handwashing and their mask-wearing and their social distancing,” Arkoosh said.
Arkoosh added the variant is indeed more contagious, as data from the U.K. show. But there isn’t enough evidence in the U.S. yet to indicate whether it is spreading more than the original COVID-19 variant.
“The modeling that I’ve seen for the United States suggests that it would be in March that we would really start seeing widespread evidence of this variant taking hold,” Arkoosh said. “I don’t know if enough time has gone by that we would be seeing a really dramatic effect from it.”
She again stressed the importance of people washing their hands, wearing masks, and keeping a social distance from people in order to stay safe and healthy.