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COVID-19

Mask rule ‘kind of an honor system’

Thursday’s COVID-19 guidance that will permit fully vaccinated people to go maskless almost everywhere is welcome, but the change will make it hard to tell who’s following the rules, according to local observers. “It’s a good sign,” said Mike Luciano, owner of Mike’s Court in ...

GOP puts pandemic powers to ballot test

HARRISBURG — Republican lawmakers across the country have tried to roll back the emergency powers that governors wielded during the COVID-19 pandemic, as they ordered businesses shut, mask-wearing in public and students home for distance learning. Pennsylvania’s Legislature is now taking ...

Chamber discusses effect of pandemic on students

Students in Blair County have been stretched to never-before-seen limits by the challenges of COVID-19, and have experienced hybrid learning, virtual leaving and in-person learning during the pandemic, a local educator said. “The pandemic has had an impact on our lives and jobs — both ...

Students give vaccine a shot

Pharmacist Jessa Saive of Thompson’s Pharmacy gives a COVID-19 vaccine to senior Jenahvi Nedimyer, 18, during a clinic at Altoona Area High School on Wednesday afternoon. The shot was available to students over the age of 16. Mirror photo by Patrick Waksmunski

Fewer renters applying for pandemic relief funds

Fewer renters than expected are applying for pandemic assistance in Pennsylvania, alarming state officials who urged tenants who are behind on rent to submit their applications now in light of a judge’s recent decision striking down a national eviction moratorium. The ruling has been put on ...

Students may have option for extra year in school

HARRISBURG (AP) — Legislation that would give parents in Pennsylvania the option to have their children repeat a grade in school because of disruptions during the COVID-19 pandemic passed the state Senate on Wednesday. The bill, which passed unanimously, goes to the state House of ...

Staying safe — An old fear returns: mass shootings

PORTLAND, Ore. — Brianne Smith was overjoyed to get an email telling her to schedule a second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. Hours later, her relief was replaced by dread: a phone alert — another mass public shooting. Before the pandemic, she would scan for the nearest exit in public places ...

Easing vaccine patents faces hurdles

GENEVA — Several world leaders Thursday praised the U.S. call to remove patent protections on COVID-19 vaccines to help poor countries obtain shots. But the proposal faces a multitude of hurdles, including resistance from the pharmaceutical industry. Nor is it clear what effect such a step ...

Moving out

Cece Linder was living in a 770-square-foot apartment outside Washington, D.C., last spring when the area went into lockdown because of the coronavirus pandemic. In May 2020, after a few months of both living and working in the small space, Linder decided to leave the capital area and ...

Bill would restore work-search rules

HARRISBURG — Republicans in Pennsylvania’s GOP-controlled Legislature are advancing legislation to reinstate work-search requirements for people claiming unemployment benefits, with one survey showing that workers aren’t taking open jobs at a record rate. The bill cleared the House ...

College students encouraged to get COVID-19 vaccine

Amid fresh signs of sagging statewide demand for the COVID-19 vaccine, Pennsylvania officials on Wednesday encouraged hundreds of thousands of college students to get their shots before they go home for summer. Gov. Tom Wolf appeared in State College with the president and head football ...

Businesses ready for relief

The Wolf administration’s announcement Tuesday that coronavirus “mitigations” — except for masking — will end Memorial Day prompted satisfaction and optimism, as well as surprise and a bit of caution from local stakeholders. “It’s a step in the right direction,” said Mike ...

Easing restrictions ‘welcome news’

Pennsylvania will lift nearly all COVID-19 restrictions on Memorial Day, the Wolf administration announced Tuesday, promising to restore something approaching normalcy to the state more than a year into the pandemic and just in time for summer. Capacity restrictions on bars, restaurants and ...

Residents urged to get vaccine

HOLLIDAYSBURG — Blair County’s director of public safety is continuing to encourage people to get their COVID-19 vaccinations to counter health threats presented by the potentially deadly virus. As of Tuesday, 42,539 Blair County residents were fully or partially vaccinated against ...

UPMC Altoona gets ‘A’ from Leapfrog

UPMC Altoona has received an A, the highest mark, this spring from The Leapfrog Group, a nonprofit watchdog organization that rates hospitals on their ability to protect patients from preventable errors, accidents, injuries and infections. It’s the sixth consecutive A for the hospital from ...

GOP: Wolf should fire vendor that mishandled virus data

Pennsylvania should immediately terminate the no-bid state contract of a company that performed COVID-19 contact tracing and exposed the private medical information of tens of thousands of residents, Republican state lawmakers said Monday. GOP leaders also called for state and federal probes ...

Shelters struggle to vaccinate homeless people

PITTSBURGH — Light of Life Rescue Mission had a vaccine clinic planned to help vaccinate homeless people earlier this month. The shelter, which operates short- and long-term programs for the homeless, as well as addiction recovery and employment assistance, planned to administer the ...

UPMC sees ‘wave’ of COVID-19 of hospitalizations

The region is in the midst of another “wave” of COVID-19 hospitalizations, and one of the telling features has been that none of those at UPMC hospitals have been vaccinated, according to Dr. David Burwell, chief quality officer for UPMCs Altoona, Bedford, Somerset and Western ...

Rite Aid expands vaccinations

Rite Aid has expanded COVID-19 vaccinations to all of its more than 2,500 locations in 17 states, including Pennsylvania. While scheduling appointments in advance is recommended to reduce wait time and guarantee availability of the vaccine, Rite Aid is taking walk-ins on a limited basis. ...

Virus case numbers fall a bit

The numbers of new COVID-19 cases dropped this week in five of the six local counties, although hospitalizations rose in four of them, according to Friday’s weekly update of the state Department of Health’s early warning dashboard. The number of new cases dropped in Blair, Bedford, ...