It’s as if I’m engaged in a stirring game of Life, Risk or chess when following daily COVID-19 moves.

I take this pandemic match seriously, mind you, and follow safeguards like wearing a mask, keeping a distance and getting a vaccine. But the callous opponent here, up against countless people nationwide following rules like me, still flourishes and has killed more than 550,000 -- so far.

For every positive move by my team like vaccines from Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson&Johnson, the coronavirus crew counters with news like the death of an Oregon woman and hospitalization of another in Texas after receiving the J&J vaccine. My latest strategy was then to have the University of Pennsylvania require all students be vaccinated before the fall semester. Will it work? Here’s hoping for a get out of COVID jail card.

Meanwhile in Bucks and Montgomery counties, the residential players in this game have rolled consistently well -- more than 91,000 in Bucks have received at least one shot of Pfizer, Moderna or J&J, while more than 149,000 residents are fully vaccinated. That’s about 20 percent of Bucks’ total population, compared to Montgomery’s 26 percent vaccination rate.

Game players might feel good about this data, but according to the state Health Department referee, the coronavirus opponent has answered with a powerful move: a fourth phase of the pandemic. A risky move, indeed.

Some 1,977 new cases were confirmed during the April 12 week in Bucks, a 7 percent hike over the previous week, pushing the county total case number to 55,980. During the same week, the county saw 20 deaths attributed to COVID-19, the highest rate since February with the total death rate at 212.

In this seemingly endless game COVID just won’t give up, and, according to the health department, the biggest population sites have been hardest hit in Bucks. Take a look at the top 10 score: 1 -- Levittown (4,500 total cases); 2 -- Bensalem (5,612); 3 -- Doylestown (3,820); 4 -- Morrisville (3,741): 5 -- Warminster (3,704); 6 -- Southampton (3,527); 7 -- Langhorne (3,413); 8 -- Quakertown (3,083); 9 -- Newtown (2,997), and 10 -- Feasterville-Trevose (2,790).

When and how to win with a Check Mate?

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