Lehigh County Coroner Eric Minnich provided a weekly update on the number of deaths from COVID-19 in the county Friday, and included in it was the sad announcement that a resident of Coopersburg borough has now died from the disease.
Minnich reported that a total of 189 Lehigh County residents have died from COVID-19, although his count is somewhat different from the Pennsylvania Department of Health’s.
As of Friday, the state was reporting that 136 Lehigh County residents had died from novel coronavirus since the pandemic began in March.
Per Minnich, one Upper Saucon Township resident, nine Salisbury Township residents and 10 Fountain Hill residents have died from COVID-19.
Most of the deaths in Fountain Hill have occurred at the county-owned Cedarbrook annex nursing home facility.
The other death tolls by municipality as of Friday were as follows:
- Allentown: 52
- Bethlehem (Lehigh County portion only): 22
- Catasauqua: 2
- Heidelberg Township: 1
- Lower Macungie Township: 30
- Lynn Township: 1
- North Whitehall Township: 1
- South Whitehall Township: 41
- Upper Macungie Township: 3
- Whitehall Township: 15
According to Minnich’s news release, the average age of the residents who have died from COVID-19 is 80, and slightly more than half (52.4 percent) were female.
“Eighty-four percent of these deaths were confirmed positive by testing and 16 percent fall in to the presumed positive category,” he said. “Sixty-eight percent of these decedents were residents of long-term care facilities in Lehigh County.”
Minnich also noted that his office has so far conducted 60 percent more death investigations this month than it did in May 2019, as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
“Our staff of 25 investigators and forensics center staff remain well-equipped with appropriate personal protective equipment…thanks to Lehigh County Emergency Management, Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency and several donations from our generous community.”
According to the Pennsylvania Department of Health, as of Saturday there were 3,440 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Lehigh County; a total that included 44 additional cases reported within the previous 24 hours.
Lehigh County has one of the highest case incidence rates in the state, with one in 105 county residents having tested positive for the virus as of Saturday. Only Delaware County (1 in 101 people) and Philadelphia (1 in 80 people) had higher rates.
Lehigh County remains under the red phase of Gov. Tom Wolf’s three-phase reopening plan, which means that gatherings of 10 or more people are prohibited and only essential, life-sustaining businesses are permitted to operate with restrictions in place.
The Lehigh County Board of Commissioners Wednesday voted to extend a state of emergency in the county, which is separate from the state’s stay-at-home order currently in effect until June 4.
“The state of emergency does not mean a lockdown extension,” officials said in a news release that was shared on the county’s Facebook page.
“The 60-day extension will permit government officials to take further action during this crisis, such as any necessary transfer of funds or executing additional documents deemed appropriate to assist in the pandemic,” it said. “Please note the state of emergency is not related to the governor’s stay-at-home order and (neither) the Board of Commissioners nor the County Executive have the authority to change his order.”
In spite of that, some Pennsylvania counties have are defying Wolf’s order. For example, Lebanon and Lancaster county commissioners voted to move their counties to the yellow phase of Wolf’s plan Friday, although the governor warned them earlier in the week that doing so could have “negative consequences” for both residents and businesses.
Statewide as of Saturday there were 61,611 confirmed cases of the coronavirus and 4,403 deaths from the disease, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Health.
Within Lehigh County, the zip code with the most confirmed cases countywide (as well as statewide) is the 18102 zip code for Allentown, which as of Saturday had 1,043 cases. No other zip code in Pennsylvania had more than 1,000 cases as of Saturday.
As of May 16 there were 149 confirmed cases within the Coopersburg (18036 zip code), which in addition to the borough includes parts of Upper Saucon Township, Lower Milford Township and Springfield Township, Bucks County.