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Wolf promotes new plans, old mitigation rules

State officials held press events almost daily last week, detailing expectations in vaccine delivery, increasing illness numbers and changes to vaccination protocols, as well as the usual reminders to maintain mitigation efforts.

Governor Tom Wolf announced a fourth version of the Pa. vaccine distribution plan Friday, which follows the blueprint set forth by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Most of the process, said Wolf, such as the number of vaccines delivered and when, is controlled at the federal level through Operation Warp Speed, and the state is trying to distribute vaccines as widely and quickly as it can.

Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine described the revisions; the ongoing phase 1A, including front line healthcare workers long-term care facility residents and staff; 1B, which includes individuals 75 and older and those with significant health issues as well as first responders, corrections officers, U.S. postal workers, teachers, clergy, and adult and child day care, public transit, manufacturing and grocery store workers.

Phase 1C includes those aged 65-74 and people with high-risk conditions, and many essential workers not covered under 1B, such as transportation, public waste, public health, government and banking workers.

Phase 2, not expected to begin until the spring, is open vaccinations for the general public.

Thursday, Education Secretary Noe Ortega explained school reopening models which focus on elementary students, saying educators must continue strategies for limiting the number of children in classrooms and distancing, reminding us that in the state 52,000 children between 5-18 have contracted the virus.

He insisted, however, that local officials are still making decisions for what is best or their school districts. “This is a recommendation, not a mandate,” he said.

Meanwhile, Director of Testing Michael Huff said days ago Pennsylvania had already exceeded 8.3 million COVID-19 test results delivered, but that care and caution must be exercised as it’s becoming clear that as many as 40 percent of those testing positive are asymptomatic.

The state is focusing more efforts on social support coordination for the many residents feeling alone and anxious in a threatening world, and expanding contact tracer numbers and work hours.

A single care of the new UK B117 variant of the virus has been found discovered in Pennsylvania, but the individual was exposed while traveling abroad, not through local community contact.

As of Monday, the state has _248,981_ confirmed COVID-19 cases and 9,312 deaths. Lehigh County has 8,637 confirmed and 374 deaths; Northampton County has 6,842 confirmed and 322 deaths; the city of Bethlehem has 2,161 confirmed and 84 deaths.