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New COVID death is reported in area

There was another COVID-related death and two new cases in Warren County reported by the Pennsylvania Department of Health on Wednesday.

So far, 97 county residents have died as a result of COVID.

There have been a total of 2,142 cases in the county. Of those 1,748 are confirmed and 394 are probable.

According to the department there have been 5,465.5 cases per 100,000 population in the county – 5.47 percent. Only four counties – Susquehanna (the lowest at 4,180.7), Wyoming, Pike, and Sullivan – have lower rates. Forest County, following an outbreak at State Correctional Institution – Forest, has easily the highest rate in the state at 19,001.0 per 100,000 – just short of one in five.

Union County has the second highest rate at 11,388.4.

Eight new COVID-19 cases and one new virus-related death were reported Wednesday morning by the Chautauqua County (New York) Department of Health. To date there have been 7,462 total confirmed cases, 7,214 recoveries and 137 fatalities.

The single-digit new cases represents an ongoing downward trend in recent weeks.

According to the department’s latest vaccine stats, 2,190 county residents are partially covered and 2,164 have received both doses.

Warren County has the lowest positivity rate in the state from a number of metrics, according to Warren General Hospital Chief Nursing Officer Joe Akif.

Sometimes, good news has negative repercussions.

Vaccinations are typically handled in the patient’s county of residence. In a time when supply is limited, county’s with low rates aren’t likely destinations for heavy shipments of vaccine.

“With the algorithm that the State Department of Health is using for vaccine distribution, it really places a lot of stress on counties to vaccinate their own,” Akif said. “The distribution to counties has been based on the communities’ experience with COVID. To include population over 65, positive COVID hospitalizations, and COVID deaths. Warren County currently has the lowest positivity rate in the state. While this is good for the community, it does not move us up the list to get larger numbers of vaccinations.”

Those who are looking for vaccine may run into barriers, just as those from elsewhere who are trying to be vaccinated here might.

“It has been the hospital’s practice to only vaccinate Warren County residents, unless they are residents from outside the county working in one of the 1A categories in Warren County,” Akif said. “As we stand up our on-line registration and telephone service, the first question is ‘Are you a Warren County resident?’ If the answer is no, we will redirect individuals to seek vaccination in their home county.”

“Initially some of our contiguous counties had a mass vaccination that Warren County residents attended,” Akif said. “I do not believe that will be the case in the future.”

“It would appear that the state is looking to coordinate larger scale vaccination clinics in larger populated areas,” he said. “In the end, the state has left this up to the vaccinating entities.”

“With the limited number of vaccines that we receive, we have decided to care for our residents first,” Akif said. “We are typically receiving only 100 or 200 doses at a time.”

“The state also dictates whether those doses will be first or second doses,” he said. “This ties our hands and limits our flexibility. So, with over 40,000 residents living in Warren County, I do not see us vaccinating people from outside the county any time soon.”

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