Courtesy of Potter County Today
As the second anniversary of the COVID-19 coronavirus public health emergency passed last week, restrictions were being lifted and life for many area residents was evolving to a new normal. Yet, the virus still lurks. Public health officials are tracking another variant that has been rapidly spreading in Great Britain and is already responsible for 25 percent of new cases in the U.S. It’s possible that the variant will rapidly spread, touching off another round of deaths and public health protections.
A two-year retrospective from the Pa. Dept. of Health (DOH) and its counterpart in New York State included statistical summaries that may have been unthinkable to many people when the pandemic was declared two years ago.
- Potter County, 3,150 confirmed cases and 91 deaths
- McKean County, 8,133 cases, 138 deaths
- Tioga County, 7,928 cases, 190 deaths
- Clinton County, 9,007 cases, 124 deaths
- Cattaraugus County, N.Y., 15,306 cases, 219 deaths
- Allegany County, N.Y., 8,860 cases, 152 deaths
- Cameron County, 813 cases, 19 deaths
Free vaccinations and COVID-19 tests are widely available, but there have been few takers since the Christmas holiday season. Vaccination rate has been frozen at 47 percent in Potter County, this month, while the statewide figure has ratcheted up to 90 percent among all residents age 5 and older. Over the past two weeks, only 18 Potter County residents have received an initial injection or a booster shot. Total numbers as of Wednesday were 1,222 with a single dose and 6,019 boosted.
Acing Pennsylvania Health Secretary Keara Klinepeter continues to emphasize the importance of vaccines. “Unfortunately, we’re not out of this yet, and it really does take everybody, especially in our rural counties, to help us pull out of this,” she said.
UPMC Cole offers the vaccine to eligible patients at its outpatient offices. Buchanan Brothers Pharmacy in Coudersport administers the vaccine by appointment; call 814-274-8660. Rite Aid pharmacies continue to book appointments. To access the online reservation form, click here.
Klinepeter said she is also concerned about low testing rates in both counties. Testing is available at local pharmacies and at UPMC Cole. At-home test kits can be ordered online at covidtests.gov by calling 1-800-232-0233.
DOH said those showing symptoms of COVID-19 infection should be tested. Among these are fever, chills, muscle pain or body aches, headaches or confusion, difficulty staying awake or waking up, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, congestion or runny nose, sore throat, new loss of taste or smell, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.