By Howard Monroe

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Health systems across our area are still undertaking the seemingly impossible task of providing COVID-19 testing to anyone who wants one. The next big task will be to vaccinate all who want to be.

The folks at Sayre Health Center in Cobbs Creek are preparing for another day of testing. This comes as the city continues to deal with a surge in positive coronavirus cases from holiday get-togethers. The center has been testing people throughout the pandemic.

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Positive coronavirus cases are near the highest they’ve ever been. Pennsylvania is still recording thousands of cases a day. In Philadelphia alone, on Monday the city recorded over 1,500 positive tests, and with testing ongoing, the next major task for health systems will be vaccinating people. The city is receiving thousands of doses every week.

“It’s very exciting that the vaccine is available but this vaccine is going to trickle out over a very long period of time,” Philadelphia Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley said.

In Pennsylvania, over 135,000 people received the first dose of the vaccine since its rollout in December. In Philadelphia, 27,000 people have been vaccinated. The rate is slower than many expected.

“Of course we’d like it to be faster but I think some people may have had unrealistic expectations about how quickly this vaccine would get out,” Farley said. “It’s a complicated process, these vaccines have to be stored at certain temperatures and we want to make sure that they get into the arms of the people that will have to greatest impact on the epidemic.

The city is still inoculating group 1A, who are healthcare workers and people who work and live in nursing homes.

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Vaccinations are being tracked on a new website created by the state’s department of health. The website breaks down inoculations by county, race, gender, and age.

Dr. Farley says it will be months before the general population can be vaccinated. He says until then, current practices are all we have to stay safe.

“We’re still stuck with the basic tools we’ve had for months which is social distancing. So wear a mask when around anyone and don’t gather with people outside of your household indoor,” Farley said.

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