Daily Times (Primos, PA)

Wolf: Vaccine ‘winning’ against coronaviru­s despite state surge

- By Michael Rubinkam

Pennsylvan­ia is “winning” the race to contain a recent spike in COVID-19 cases and hospitaliz­ations thanks to its accelerati­ng vaccine rollout, the governor said Wednesday, as state officials sought to address what they view as the pandemic’s next big challenge — persuading stragglers to get the shot.

The Wolf administra­tion is pushing people to get inoculated against the coronaviru­s as soon as possible, saying vaccines will be what end the pandemic, and has so far shown little appetite for new mitigation measures to address the latest surge in infections and hospitaliz­ations.

“It’s a race between the vaccine and the upsurge, this fourth upsurge, and I think the vaccine is winning,” Gov. Tom Wolf said Wednesday outside Bethlehem Baptist Church in McKeesport, near Pittsburgh, which will host a community vaccine clinic operated by the Allegheny County Health Department.

Pennsylvan­ia this week eased restrictio­ns on bar seating, restaurant capacity and indoor and outdoor events, even though the state —along with New York, Michigan, Florida and New Jersey — accounted for nearly half of the nation’s reported infections over a recent seven-day reporting period.

But Wolf said an increasing vaccine supply has put Pennsylvan­ia in a much different position than it was in November, when the state and the rest of the country were heading into the pandemic’s darkest period. He predicted that anyone who wants a shot will have been able to receive at least an initial dose by the second week of May.

Katherine White, of Downtown, receives the Pfizer vaccine from Peg Schmidt, a registered nurse with Allegheny Health Network, during Allegheny Health Network’s vaccine clinic for those in the 1A and 1B phases at DICK’S Sporting Goods’ Corporate Office, Tuesday, April 6, 20121, in Coraopolis a suburb of Pittsburgh. Allegheny Health Network vaccinated over 6,500people, making it their biggest clinic yet.

“The real race, the real end of this is going to be because enough people get vaccinated that we actually can get back to life pretty much as normal, and that’s the strategy we have,” Wolf said.

Facing a deadline set by President Joe Biden, the state recently expanded eligibilit­y to more frontline workers and said that every adult in Pennsylvan­ia will qualify for a COVID-19 vaccine starting April 19.

Pennsylvan­ia received 440,000 first doses this week — the most since the vaccine rollout began in December — with pharmacies and the city of Philadelph­ia receiving hundreds of thousands of additional doses directly from the federal government. More than 44% of the state’s adult population has gotten at least one shot,

according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Even though demand still outstrips supply, state officials believe that vaccine hesitancy will soon become a bigger challenge. On Wednesday, Acting Health Secretary Alison Beam traveled to Allentown to highlight the work of the the Muslim Aid Initiative, a volunteer group in the Philadelph­ia area that’s been encouragin­g Muslims to get vaccinated, and that of other groups working to address vaccine hesitancy in minority communitie­s.

On the other side of the state, Wolf appeared with the Rev. Earlene Coleman, senior pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church. She exhorted young people who might be reluctant to roll up their sleeves.


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