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Video: Allegany County Covid-19 news conference today sounds alarm: Get vaccinated, mask up, or face community trauma

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By Andrew Harris

The live stream event today hosted by Allegany County Chairman Curt Crandall was intended to raise a big red flag over Allegany County. Crandall and his guest speakers, all healthcare professionals of some stripe, had one overlying theme: Please get vaccinated and please, everyone, wear a mask indoors. Each speaker re-iterated this point and reminded the public that unless vaccination rates rapidly increase and masking becomes predominant, the pain of this pandemic will not end.

Scott Lanphier of Medical Transport Services Inc explained that the ambulance operations in Allegany County are stressed to the max. Besides the constant calls for emergency assistance, he and other paramedics are forced to transport patients many hours from home to the nearest hospital. He told the public, ” Allegany County needs to make some changes in order to help us, help you.”

Jones Memorial Hospital CEO James Helms took to the microphone and tried to beat his drum a little louder than in past similar statements. Helms made a point that his plea on October 12th of this year was not heeded. At the time Helms predicted a major post-Thanksgiving surge of infections, hospitalizations, and deaths without vaccination and masking. He ominously announced, “Well that time is here.”

Helms went on to announce the latest data from Jones Memorial, as of Tuesday December 7th, 68% of inpatients are infected with Covid-19. Concerning the recent wave of Covid-19 related deaths, Helms provided data relative to vaccination:

“Vaccines have been proven to prevent serious illness, 74% of the 12 fatalities were unvaccinated.”

Another representative from Jones Memorial hospital, Dr. Julie Anderson, Emergency Room physican addressed the impact of this surge on ER services. She explained that due to the volume of patients with Covid-19, the vital community service is on the verge of overload. The Jones Memorial Hospital Emergency Room has seen an 8-fold increase in patients needing emergency care. She reported that on Monday, December 6th, the nine bed ER was treating eleven patients, all with Covid-19 and the needing oxygen.

Dr. Anderson wanted to bluntly address the relationship between emergency room overload and vaccination rates:

“The choice to remain unvaccinated endangers both you and the lives of those around you.”

Anderson also stressed that those who need emergency services should not avoid seeking that care. The ER remains committed to providing care for anyone facing a life or limb emergency.

Allegany County Health Department Director Tyler Shaw was the final speaker of the press conference. His comments echoed the rest of the panel with an urgent tone. He detailed just how severe community spread had become and illustrated the point with the most recent information possible. At a county testing clinic yesterday, over 50% of those tested were Covid-19 positive.

Shaw was recently in the news for imploring county Chairman Curt Crandall to impose an indoor mask mandate in all public buildings. Those requests from Shaw have not been heeded.

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