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- 46th and current president of the United States
Dec. 22—Under threat of a federal mandate, most area nursing homes saw significant increases in staff vaccination rates last month, Pennsylvania Department of Health data shows.
On Nov. 4, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration released new COVID-19 vaccine requirements ordered by President Joe Biden.
All health care workers were to have received at least one vaccine dose by Dec. 5 and be fully vaccinated by Jan. 4.
Rulings by two federal judges put Biden's order on hold Nov. 30. The mandate remains under appeal.
Comparing the health department's long-term facility vaccine reports for early November and early December shows that out of 24 Cambria, Somerset, Bedford and Blair county homes reporting, 18 saw staff vaccination rates go up. One rate remained stable and five other homes had slight drops in the percentage of staff fully vaccinated.
The latest report on the health department's website includes vaccination data through either Nov. 28 or Dec. 5, depending on the home. It was compared to the report that include data through Oct. 31 or Nov. 7.
Pennknoll Village in Everett had the largest increase, with 19.6% more staff fully vaccinated in one month. The county's only other nursing home, ProMedica Skilled Nursing and Rehabilitation of Bedford, was up by 16.3%.
Richland Healthcare and Rehabilitation had Cambria County's largest increase, at 11.3%, while Siemon's Lakeview Manor Nursing and Rehabilitation of Somerset led Somerset County increases, at 12.3%
Half of the Blair County homes reporting showed a lower percentage of employees were fully vaccinated in early December. Garvey Manor in Hollidaysburg had Blair's largest increase, 3.8% more fully vaccinated.
Altoona Center for Nursing Care, Homewood at Martinsburg, The Lutheran Home at Hollidaysburg and Maybrook Hills Rehabilitation & Health Care Center in Altoona saw small decreases in the staff rates.
There were no December reports posted for The Presbyterian Home in Hollidaysburg or the Hollidaysburg Veterans Home.
Overall, The Patriot, A Choice Community, in Somerset had the highest staff vaccination rate at 97.5%. That was actually down from 99% in early November.
Topping Cambria County was Villa Crest in Conemaugh Township, at 91.4% of staff fully vaccinated, followed by Arbutus Park Manor in Richland Township, at 77.7%, and Laurelwood Care Center in Upper Yoder Township, at 73.4%.
Garvey Manor's 82.5% rate was highest in Blair County and ProMedica's 74.1% led Bedford County homes.
A new tool against serious illness from COVID-19 was approved Wednesday by federal regulators.
Paxlovid is the first pill against the virus and is a faster, cheaper way to treat early infections. The pills will be scarce at first, officials predict.
U.S. Rep. Dr. John Joyce, R-Blair, called the new drug is "game changer."
"An oral therapeutic — a pill or tablet — that prevents severe illness or hospitalization is a game-changer in our battle against COVID-19," Joyce said. "American innovation and ingenuity will lead us through the pandemic, and (Wednesday's) announcement marks yet another American milestone ... in our efforts against the coronavirus."
Wednesday's update of the state's latest COVID-19 numbers showed 9,838 new positives and 168 additional deaths, bringing Pennsylvania's totals to 1,913,959 cases and 35,615 deaths attributed to COVID-19.
Cambria County added 60 cases and five deaths, Somerset County added 45 cases and three deaths, Bedford County added 23 cases and two deaths, Blair County added 44 cases and seven deaths, Indiana County added 26 cases and one death, Clearfield County added 50 cases and two deaths, Centre County added 99 cases and two deaths and Westmoreland County added 123 cases and 11 deaths.
The health department is reactivating the free COVID-19 testing site outside Blair County Convention Center. Free testing was offered last weekend and will return next week, operating from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday in the convention center parking lot.
Combining updates from the state and Philadelphia health departments shows 7,916,070 Pennsylvanians are fully vaccinated. Vaccine providers have administered 19,185,024 doses, including 2,402,699 boosters.