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Residents urged to book vaccines

Blair has seen uptick in COVID-19 cases

HOLLIDAYSBURG — Blair County leaders are urging residents to book COVID-19 vaccination appointments through local health care facilities and pharmacies as soon as they become eligible.

“The biggest areas where we’re seeing vaccine availability now are at CVS, Rite Aid, Giant Eagle, Weis and Walmart pharmacies,” Blair County Director of Public Safety Mark Taylor told commissioners Tuesday.

A few weeks ago, Taylor and other county leaders were putting plans in place for a mass vaccination clinic that could be set up quickly at the Blair County Convention Center.

The convention center was previously used as a vaccine testing site.

When the state Department of Health cut the number of vaccine providers from about 1,000 to 300, its leaders spoke of setting up 27 regional mass vaccination sites.

As of Tuesday, however, Taylor had no update on that plan.

“There’s still no word on the need for any mass vaccination efforts,” Taylor said. “We stand ready if that happens.”

Since Pennsylvania started distributing COVID-19 vaccinations in January, nearly 30,000 Blair County residents have received at least one or both of their COVID-19 vaccines.

Taylor said Tuesday that he would advise those who qualify for COVID-19 vaccinations to keep checking for appointments with local providers.

He and Commissioner Amy Webster also referenced April 19, the date when the state Department of Health intends to make COVID-19 vaccinations available to everyone.

“As Commissioner Webster pointed out, that doesn’t mean you’re going to get vaccinated in the month of April,” Taylor said. “But you will be able to get registered.”

Blair County has seen an increase in residents diagnosed with COVID-19 in recent weeks, which Taylor attributed to an easing of restrictions and more people being in contact with others.

He said the county is now averaging about 29 cases per day. The amount of hospitalized patients with COVID-19 symptoms is about 15 per day, he said.

“I don’t see it getting alarming yet,” Taylor said, “but we’re still seeing increases.”

He also urged people to be careful and to follow practices designed to keep COVID-19 from spreading.

“Everybody needs to keep up their vigilance until we get more people vaccinated and hopefully, work our way out of this pandemic that’s impacted so many of our lives,” Taylor said.

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

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