Pennsylvania urges vaccination for medics, as Allegheny County reports 830 new COVID-19 cases, four deaths

by PublicSource Reporters

Pennsylvania Department of Health [DOH] Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine called on hospitals Wednesday to vaccinate healthcare providers with whom they work with closely but don’t directly employ during phase one of inoculations. She drew particular attention to emergency medical personnel.

“EMS providers are called to care for people experiencing a health crisis and who are in immediate need of care,” Levine said during a virtual press conference. “While EMS workers do take steps to protect themselves, including wearing PPE, they are walking into unknown situations and are really our frontline first responders.”

Right now, the state places the responsibility upon hospitals to vaccinate healthcare workers who assist hospitals while not being directly employed, according to Levine.

“If someone in the community has difficulty, of course they can contact [DOH], but we’ll be working with the hospitals as well as other providers such as [federally qualified health centers] to be able to accomplish this, and we’ll work to facilitate it with them,” Levine said.

Ahead of Christmas Eve, Levine issued her now-regular warning to stay home in order to control the spread of the virus.

“In the meantime, until everyone can get vaccinated, we absolutely need people to answer the call and wear a mask, to wash their hands frequently, to avoid small and large gatherings, to social distance, to stay home, and to download the COVID Alert PA app,” Levine said.

The Allegheny County Health Department reported 830 new COVID-19 cases and four new deaths Wednesday.

Since Tuesday, the federal government has distributed 127,755 vaccine doses across 109 hospitals in Pennsylvania. As of Wednesday, 41,444 of these vaccine doses have been administered.

DOH Director of Testing and Contact Tracing Michael Huff said during a press conference Tuesday that he expects testing to become more readily available in the future, with additional sites and more widespread rapid testing.

Huff also said the state is working “very closely” with a vendor that is creating an at-home testing solution. “I would suggest to you that probably in the next two months, you’re going to see some of these kits at the drugstores and other areas. And in the next three to six months, I think they’ll be readily available.” On Dec. 17, the FDA granted emergency use authorization for the first at-home testing kit.

Secretary or Health Dr. Rachel Levine during an Oct. 26, 2020 press conference.


Pennsylvania urges vaccination for medics, as Allegheny County reports 830 new COVID-19 cases, four deaths

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