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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 testing clinic at the convention center in November, will return to the center from Feb. 5-9 for more testing, county Director of Public Safety Mark Taylor said Tuesday when addressing commissioners.

More information about the first-come, first-serve testing opportunity will be released as it becomes available, Taylor said.

The state, in response to recent increases in COVID-19 cases, set up drive-thru clinics in Clarion, Bradford and Pike counties.

Blair County’s COVID-19 case numbers have been increasing, and its positivity rate is back up over 13%, Taylor told commissioners. But the amount of local people hospitalized for COVID-19 reasons hasn’t increased, he added.

“I’m not ready to concede that we’re heading into another spread,” Taylor said, a reference to a projected increase in COVID-19 cases after holiday gatherings and travel.

The COVID-19 vaccination process that started this month at local hospitals and nursing homes is prompting questions about future availability, Commissioner Amy Webster said Tuesday.

The county, which is working with the state Department of Health that’s directing the vaccination process, has posted information on its website, Webster said. Those interested in updates, Webster said, should keep checking the county’s website, www.blairco.org.

Based on available numbers, the state indicates that about 3,000 of Blair County’s 121,800 residents have been vaccinated. Taylor said Tuesday that he thinks more than 3,000 have been administered, which will be reflected when the state’s number is updated.

On Tuesday, Taylor also reiterated a recommendation issued last week, advising non-hospital affiliated health care personnel to pursue vaccinations as part of the first group — referred to as 1a — through an employer, a local agency or a local hospital.

Vaccines that aren’t needed for someone in the 1a group can be made available to those in the 1b group, which he described as “very, very large.”

The 1b group includes those 75 years old and older, those receiving home and community-based services, correctional officers and workers serving people in congregate care settings, food and agricultural workers, postal workers, grocery store workers, education workers, clergy, public transit and those caring for children or adults in early childhood and adult day care programs.

Based on the size of the 1b group, Taylor said he expects a mass vaccination clinic will be needed, but he couldn’t offer a timeframe as to when.

Mirror Staff Writer Kay Stephens is at 814-946-7456.

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