Pa. coronavirus update: Montco now pre-registering vaccinations by phone

Licensed practical nurse Starlette Sumpter administers COVID-19 vaccinations at a clinic

Licensed practical nurse Starlette Sumpter administers COVID-19 vaccinations at a clinic at Montgomery County Community College in Blue Bell, Pa. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

Ask us about COVID-19: What questions do you have about the coronavirus and vaccines?

As of Wednesday, Pennsylvania identified 2,786 additional positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 920,634. There are currently 1,963 people hospitalized with the virus, 418 are in intensive care. An additional 76 coronavirus deaths were reported Tuesday, bringing the commonwealth’s total COVID-19 fatalities to 23,787.

For the week ending Feb. 18, Pennsylvania’s positivity rate stood at 6.5%.

Montco now taking pre-registrations by phone

Montgomery County residents without an email address or internet access can now pre-register for the coronavirus vaccine by phone.

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The program is run through the Office of Senior Services and a technology company that serves older people called Mon Ami.

Some 160 volunteers have gone through background checks and have been fully trained to staff the hotlines, according to Chair of the Montgomery County Board of Commissioners Dr. Val Arkoosh.

Residents who pre-register by phone will get a call back notifying them of openings for vaccination appointments.

“After thorough training and onboarding, we are so pleased to have this program up and running,” said Arkoosh. “Our goal is to get the vaccine to anyone who wants it once our supply increases.”

The number to call is 833-875-3967. Arkoosh urged patience as it may take up to 12 weeks for people who register to hear back about scheduling a vaccine.

To get a sense of how many pre-registrants are ahead of you, follow this link.

Outbreak at cheerleading tournament prompts reminder

A COVID-19 outbreak stemming from a mid-February cheerleading tournament has Montco officials reminding organizations to reach out to county public health officials before they move ahead with events — even if the event falls under state guidelines.

The facility that hosted the event had a health and safety plan, according to Arkoosh, but it did not submit a COVID-19 mitigation plan to the county’s Office of Public Health.

Arkoosh did not say where the tournament took place when she issued her reminder.

She did say the tournament in question had 14 cheer teams participating, seven of which reported a total of 27 people testing positive for the virus. Arkoosh said the teams with positive cases represent multiple counties, including Montco.

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“Even if your gathering is within the allowed number of attendees for that space, the office of public health will work with you to make your event or gathering as safe as possible,” she said.

Pa. cracks down on restaurants flouting COVID-19 rules

Limited indoor dining may be allowed in Pennsylvania, but restaurants are still required to enforce coronavirus mitigation efforts, such as requiring meal purchases when serving alcohol and ending alcohol sales at 11 p.m.

Last week, the commonwealth’s Bureau of Food Safety ordered four businesses to close for violating mitigation efforts. Two of the businesses are in Lancaster County, another in Dauphin County, and the fourth is in Schuylkill County.

Ordering business closures is the bureau’s final recourse, when dealing with establishments flouting coronavirus precautions, opting for an “education-first” model instead.

Throughout the pandemic, the bureau has followed up on the public’s coronavirus-related complaints. Last week, the department received more than 500 food facility virus-related complaints. According to the bureau, almost 80 of those complaints were referred to local health jurisdictions and 21 led to bureau inspections.

The following restaurants were ordered closed:

  • Village Café, Gordonville, Lancaster County
  • Fire & Ice Smokehouse & Creamery, Halifax, Dauphin County
  • White Horse Luncheonette, Gap, Lancaster County
  • Sunny Cupboard, Schuylkill Haven, Schuylkill County

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