EAGLEVILLE — A 62-year-old Whitemarsh man succumbed to the coronavirus disease, the third such death in Montgomery County since the first cases were identified nearly three weeks ago.
Montgomery County Commissioner Chairwoman Dr. Valerie Arkoosh said the man was hospitalized at the time of his death. Officials previously reported that two Abington men, ages 84 and 72, had died from COVID-19.
Meanwhile, officials announced 94 new positive cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, bringing the county’s total number of cases to 313 since March 7.
“This big jump in positive cases is not unexpected. We have tested over 1,000 people at our community-based testing site since last Friday, so it’s not at all unexpected that we’re seeing more positive cases come through. We fully anticipated that this would happen,” Arkoosh said during a news briefing on Thursday.
The new 94 new cases included people from 32 municipalities, including six that reported their first cases — Hatfield, Jenkintown, Norristown, Souderton, Upper Hanover and Upper Pottsgrove.
The new cases in the county included 46 men and 45 women whose ages ranged between 8 and 95. Six of the individuals are hospitalized, according to Arkoosh, who was joined at the news conference by fellow commissioners Kenneth E. Lawrence Jr. and Joseph C. Gale, and Dr. Alvin Wang, regional EMS medical director, and Dr. Brenda Weis, administrator of the Office of Public Health.
Lawrence announced that Montgomery County officials, in partnership with local donors, have launched the MontcoPA COVID-19 Response Fund to support local relief efforts in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. Financial contributions will exclusively assist community safety net organizations critically impacted by the current public health crisis, Lawrence said.
“The reduction of services along with strict social distancing guidelines due to COVID-19, make it harder for low-income and food-insecure residents, seniors, veterans, homeless and homebound individuals get what they need. As a result of the pandemic, we are expecting a sharp increase in safety net services, and we want to be prepared,” Lawrence said.
The fund will provide grants to nonprofit organizations with a successful track record of serving the needs of vulnerable county residents.
“Through this countywide fund, Montgomery County residents are able to donate directly to the COVID-19 efforts here in Montgomery County,” said Lawrence. “These funds will provide emergency grants to support local nonprofits working with residents most impacted by COVID-19.”
Nonprofit organizations serving Montgomery County will be able to apply for grants of up to $5,000 to support their relief efforts. Funding will be accelerated to reach organizations quickly.
“Grant applications will be reviewed quickly and on a rolling basis to ensure that funds are distributed as quickly as possible to nonprofits during this important work,” Lawrence said.
“We are proud to launch this fund, which will provide immediate relief and support for those organizations which serve our most vulnerable residents,” added Virginia Frantz, CEO & President, Montgomery County Foundation, Inc. “If you or your business is looking for a way to help during this critical time of need, please contribute to the MontcoPA COVID-19 Response Fund.”
The fund is a unique partnership between local government and organizations, including Montgomery County, HealthSpark Foundation, Montgomery County Foundation, Inc., VNA Foundation of Greater North Penn, BLBB Charitable, AmerisourceBergen Foundation, Pottstown Area Health & Wellness Foundation, Inc., Genuardi Family Foundation, and Philanthropy Network of Greater Philadelphia. The county’s three nonprofit collaboratives, BuxMont Collaborative, TriCounty Community Network, and the Interagency Council of Norristown, are also founding partners. The partners have seeded the fund with $250,000, but more donations will be needed to meet the demand, officials said.
Tax-deductible donations may be made online at www.montcopa.org/COVID-19 or by check. Checks made payable to Montgomery County Foundation, Inc., with MontcoPA COVID-19 Response Fund in the memo section, can be mailed to Montgomery County Foundation, Inc., 4 Sentry Parkway, #302, Blue Bell, PA 19422.
“This is really going to make a huge difference,” Arkoosh said. “We really hope that people will donate anything that they can if they’re able in this very trying time. I could not be more proud of our community.”
Officials added the county’s community-based COVID-19 testing site, which began operating last Friday at Temple University’s Ambler Campus in Upper Dublin, initially for first responders and healthcare workers and currently for members of the general public who meet specific criteria, continues to be available.
Arkoosh said that by the end of the day on Wednesday, 1,631 people were tested at the site. Officials said 429 test results have been returned and of those there were 95 positive cases identified, which represents 6 percent. Officials said 330 individuals tested negative.
The site will provide testing by appointment only. There will not be any treatment conducted at the site, which will be open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. The site will be closed on Sunday but will resume testing on Monday as testing supplies allow.
The link to register is available at www.montcopa.org/COVID-19 as well as at the county’s official social media accounts, officials said.
Individuals who do not have access to the Internet or do not have an email address can call 610-631-3000 between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. daily to register for a testing appointment.