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Nine new cases, no new deaths reported in county

There were nine new cases of COVID-19 and no new deaths reported for Warren County on Friday.

There have been a total of 2,153 cases in the county, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Health’s latest data.

Of those, 1,757 were confirmed and 396 were probables.

The number of COVID-related deaths of county residents remained at 98.

According to the department’s vaccination dashboard, the number of county residents who have received vaccine continues to grow slowly.

As of Friday’s report, 2,307 residents had received both doses of the vaccine and are fully covered. Another 2,292 had received the first dose for partial coverage.

The doses are the same — in what they contain and the amount given to the patient — but two doses administered four to six weeks apart (in the case of the Moderna vaccine) are required for full effectiveness.

On Friday, the state announced a change in its policy for quarantines, aligning with those advised by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

“Under the updated guidance, people who have had both doses of a two-dose vaccine, or one dose of a single dose vaccine, do not need to quarantine after an exposure to another person with COVID-19 if they meet all the following criteria: they are fully vaccinated (i.e., more than two weeks following receipt of the second dose in a two-dose series, or of one dose of a single-dose vaccine); they are within three months following receipt of the last dose in the series; and they have remained asymptomatic since the current COVID-19 exposure.”

“This does not mean the vaccine is only effective for three months, but rather that it is unclear how long immunity from vaccine will last,” according to the department. Testing is ongoing.

Those who are showing symptoms are expected to isolate.

Vaccine remains in short supply.

A mass testing (not vaccination) event will be held next week in Forest County, where there have been 1,378 total cases and 21 deaths.

An outbreak at State Correctional Institution – Forest launched the county’s percentages to the highest in the state. There have been 19,014.8 cases per 100,000 residents in the county of about 7,300.

The next, and final, group of mass testing sites will include Forest County, according to the department.

Those sites have the capability to test up to 450 people per day and are not limited to residents of the county where the site is located.

The Forest County site is the Marienville Area Civic Association, 149 MACA Drive, Marienville, PA, 16239, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday, March 1, through Friday, March 5.

“No appointment is necessary. Testing is on a first-come, first-serve basis and is completely free to all patients,” according to a department release. “Patients must be ages three and older and are not required to show symptoms of COVID-19 in order to be tested. Mid-nasal passage swab PCR tests will be performed.”

“Patients are encouraged to bring a photo-ID or insurance card,” according to the release. “Registration will also be completed on-site. The turnaround time for testing results is two to seven days after testing.”

During that time, patients are asked to self-quarantine.

“Individuals who test positive will receive a phone call from AMI while individuals who test negative will receive a secured-PDF emailed to them from AMI,” according to the release.

“The AMI testing sites will be open to anyone who feels they need a test,” according to the release. “It is important that even people with no symptoms who test positive isolate to stop the spread of COVID-19.”

As the surges of late 2020 fade and an increasing number of people are vaccinated, demand for testing is dropping.

“Testing on a grand scale appears to be slowing down,” Warren General Hospital Chief Nursing Officer Joe Akif said. “The drive-in service (at the hospital) is seeing about half of what was previously presenting for testing.”

The mass testing for Warren County was held Dec. 10 through 14.

“Since the large scale event at the State Hospital, this seems to have really slowed down,” Akif said. “Patients that are symptomatic are who is being tested.”

A possible positive impact of COVID could be a drop in other communicable diseases. “We also have not seen any flu at this time,” Akif said. “We feel this is a by-product of the masking and distancing and diminished large scale events in the community.”

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