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COVID-19

Finding a home: Local agency has shortage of dogs

Local humane society officials say they have not seen an increase in pet adoptions during the COVID-19 pandemic, despite shelter and humane groups nationwide seeing their numbers double. But that might be in part to a shortage of dogs. “People are home more to spend time with their ...

County inmates recover from virus

HOLLIDAYSBURG — The Blair County Prison population now includes 194 inmates who have recovered from COVID-19 conditions and three inmates with positive test results. Current inmates who tested positive in December — during one of two testing rounds — have since recovered and are now ...

Pandemic complicates illegal drug enforcement

Blair County law enforcement agencies reported increased drug activity during the coronavirus pandemic, but in some cases, social distancing restrictions hampered their efforts. “There were two issues that arose from the pandemic,” said Blair County District Attorney Pete Weeks. ...

Outbreak continues decline

The COVID-19 outbreak in the region continues to ease, as the two key indicators on the state’s early warning dashboard went down this week in all six local counties. Still, both indicators are above the thresholds of concern. The largest drop in the incidence rate — the number of new ...

State expands vaccine eligibility

The state Department of Health on Tuesday added everyone 65 and older and everyone 16 to 64 with health issues that make them vulnerable to COVID-19 now eligible for the vaccinations. The department also launched online tools that instruct users step-by-step on how to get vaccinated — ...

Biden taps Levine for post

WASHINGTON — President-elect Joe Biden has tapped Pennsylvania Health Secretary Rachel Levine to be his assistant secretary of health, leaving her poised to become the first openly transgender federal official to be confirmed by the U.S. Senate. A pediatrician and former Pennsylvania ...

AASD to discuss learning plan

The Altoona Area School Board on Tuesday scheduled a special meeting for 6 p.m. Jan. 26 to revisit a return to school plan. That meeting will be a working session where a new motion is anticipated regarding whether to send students back. On Thursday, the board voted 5-4 to remain on a ...

Residents want vaccination

HOLLIDAYSBURG — A week ago after federal leaders recommended adding those 65 and older to the top priority group for COVID-19 vaccinations, Blair County Director of Public Safety Mark Taylor’s said his office phones started ringing. “We’ve been fielding calls ever since, particularly ...

Recalled to duty

On a typical week, the VFW Blair County Veterans Honor Guard conducts five military funeral services, honoring the fallen with the playing of taps as well as the traditional folding and presentation of the American flag to the next of kin, and the firing of arms salute. When the COVID-19 ...

Schools get $2.2B in virus aid

HARRISBURG — Gov. Tom Wolf is dedicating $2.2 billion in federal stimulus funds to K-12 school districts and charter schools affected by the COVID-19 pandemic to support food programs, technological improvements and other education services. “All schools have been affected by the COVID-19 ...

Area outbreak easing slowly

Both of the key metrics listed in the state’s early warning COVID-19 dashboard for all six local counties remain well above the thresholds of concern this week, although all but two of the 12 numbers have improved from three weeks ago. Clearfield County’s incidence rate — the number of ...

Jailed judge loses bid for pandemic release

WILKES-BARRE (AP) — A disgraced Pennsylvania judge who locked up thousands of juvenile offenders while he was taking kickbacks from the owner and builder of for-profit detention centers has lost his bid to be released from prison because of COVID-19. Mark Ciavarella, a former Luzerne County ...

Wolf, GOP spar over virus relief aid

Gov. Tom Wolf called on the Republican majorities in the House and Senate on Thursday to authorize $145 million recently made available from the workers compensation fund to create a program to help businesses damaged by COVID-19. His administration shifted the money to the general fund three ...

AASD votes to stay virtual

The Altoona Area School District board voted 5-4 to stay with virtual learning for all students for now. At its special meeting Thursday, board members voted in favor of sending all PreK-12th grade students back to school using a hybrid model two weeks after all teachers and staff have ...

Commissioners reflect on adapting amid pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has had its impact on just about everything — including county government. The Blair County commissioners on Thursday touched on several pandemic topics during a Zoom presentation to the Blair County Chamber of Commerce Breakfast Club. Despite the many negatives, the ...

HASD to return to in-person learning

HOLLIDAYSBURG — The Hollidaysburg Area School Board voted 5-4 Wednesday night to return to full time face-to-face instruction on Tuesday after a three-hour session. The decision affects all students in the district. Voting in favor of students returning were Melissa Mitchell, Rick ...

First Houtzdale prisoner dies from COVID-19

HOUTZDALE — Officials from the state correctional institute at Houtzdale issued a statement Wednesday confirming their first inmate death from COVID-19. The inmate, 59, had underlying medical conditions and was sent to a hospital Dec. 27, where he tested positive for the virus, according to ...

Virus aid cut to nursing homes

A $175-million program involving 11 hospital systems that helped long-term care facilities deal with COVID-19 for six months ended recently, and the Wolf administration has replaced it with a less-well-funded program to hold things together through the end of February. The administration ...

More public COVID-19 testing coming

HOLLIDAYSBURG — As the COVID-19 vaccination process continues to develop, arrangements are being made to again offer COVID-19 testing in February at the Blair County Convention Center. AMI Expeditionary Healthcare, the state Department of Health contractor that set up a COVID-19 drive-thru ...

Levine: Biden vaccine plan OK

The state Department of Health has no problem with the upcoming Biden administration’s plan to stop withholding second doses of the COVID-19 vaccines and instead, distribute them as they’re manufactured — relying on the pharmaceutical firms to keep up with demand, so recipients’ second ...