Pennsylvania governor, health secretary give update on COVID-19 and vaccine plan
Today we’re releasing an updated vaccine plan for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. This is the administration’s fourth version of the vaccine plan. We have updated it to incorporate new information and changing recommendations from our federal partners, as well as to ensure the plan is accurate and isas timely as possible. The updated plan is gonna help us act swiftly and efficiently when we reach the new stage on each new phase of the vaccine distribution. Now, vaccinations, as you all know, are an important tool in stopping the spread of Cove in 19 in the Pennsylvania Department of Health. The Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency have done a lot of hard work to ensure a smooth and efficient roll out of this vaccine. Of course, most of the vaccine distribution process is controlled by the federal government, and unfortunately, that means there are a lot of things that we here in Pennsylvania simply can’t control. But that’s something that’s that’s just the reality. They’re also some things we don’t know. For example, my administration doesn’t control how much vaccine we get or when we get it, and we don’t know exactly when everybody, every group is going to be able to get vaccinated. However, we’re doing everything we possibly can to make sure this process It’s a smooth and quick as it could possibly be. We also want to make sure this process is this fair as it could possibly be. The first shipments of vaccine are being given to health care workers and through the federal pharmacy partnership with information the Department of Health has shared with the federal government, people are working and residing in our long term care facilities. Those folks, uh, they’re gonna be, uh, also able to begin receiving the vaccine. They have already begun receiving the vaccine and there are hopeful signs a time when many things many things seem to be beyond our control. There’s still some things that are in our control. We aren’t sure how fast the vaccines you’re gonna be coming. We’re working as hard as we can to make them come as fast as we can. But we’ve got to keep in mind that there are indeed still many things that are within our control. And that’s been true throughout the pandemic. And it’s true now when we work together, we slow the spread of cove in 19. We protect our families. We protect our communities. The steps we take to slow the spread and keep ourselves and our community safe are important and they work. When we follow mitigation measures, we get ourselves one step closer to a future without Kobe. 19. Those are things we all know. Stay at home when you can. Ordering curbside pickup when you shop. When you can do that wearing a mask whenever you’re around people washing your hands regularly, staying at least 6 ft away from others when you have to be in public, these things actually work. They actually helped to spread slow the spread of the virus. And when we take these steps consistently, we make our communities safer places to be. We make our own lives safer. Our recent success in slowing the spread of the virus and the hope that we’ve all been given with the introduction of these vaccines should energize all of us to continue the fight against this disease. For the time that that remains that we have to deal with this, we need to remain vigilant as vaccine distribution expands. This is going to take time, but a future without Covad 19 is coming. And I thank all Pennsylvanians for joining me and fighting for that much, much awaited future. So thank you very much. And now I’m going to turn things over to Dr Rachel Levin. Secretary. Thank you, Governor. Like you, I am saddened by the events in our nation’s capital. But I’ve always said I am hopeful and optimistic person, and I know that our country can do better and we’ll do better. Yeah, statewide and nationally, we are seeing an uptick in vaccinations. To date, Pennsylvania has received 827,300 doses off the two approved vaccines. And through our missions to vaccinate healthcare personnel and those living and working in skilled nursing facilities, we have vaccinated over 235,000 Pennsylvanians. It is important to remember, however, that there is a delay in the reporting of the vaccinations both through the hospitals of about 24 hours and through Walgreens and CVS are partners in the long term care mission by up to 72 hours. So we expected, actually that Maura vaccinations have been given. But that’s the data we have right now. Please note that this might not be reflected yet on our dashboard, we are waiting for CVS to complete the upload of of its data into our system. As Governor Wolf mentioned today, we are releasing the latest version off our vaccination plans. This update aligns our plan with the latest recommendations from the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practice or the A sip from the CDC. Phase one A of the plan has been further defined to identify specific health care providers. There are approximately one million healthcare personnel as well a skilled nursing in long term care residents and staff that are in Phase one A. There is now a phase one B, and that’s actually even significantly larger group of people that includes individuals 75 or older and those with significant health issues and essential frontline workers for one B so that includes first responders, correctional officers and others serving people in congregate settings, U S postal service workers, manufacturing workers, grocery store workers, teachers and support staff, clergy and other essential support for houses of worship, public transit workers and people caring for Children or adults in early childhood in adult day programs. This new update also creates a Phase one c phase one C includes includes those age 65 to 74 as well as people with several high risk conditions such as cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, heart conditions, pregnant women. Also included in Phase one see are those essential workers that are not included in one A and one B. This is really quite an extensive list, but I’ll give some examples. Public safety workers, transportation workers, energy, waste and waste water workers, finance and banking workers. Federal, state, county and local government workers, including including county election workers, elected officials and members of the judiciary and their staff, legal services, media services, communication workers and public health workers. The update of our vaccination plan also includes a face to now when there is more vaccine available. Anyone who was not previously covered in our 16 and older will then be vaccinated in this phase to the general public right to ensure that we’re getting input from Pennsylvanians on the plan, we have developed an online form for people to submit feedback and that’s available on our website. We know that there is significant interest among Pennsylvanians about when they will get vaccinated, of course, and we’re working to ensure that everyone who wants access to the cove in 19 vaccine gets it. I know it is difficult to ask, but we must have patience because, as the governor said, the amount of vaccine available to Pennsylvanians is limited. That is controlled by Operation Warp speed. As they distribute vaccine throughout the entire United States, it will take several months before there is vaccine available for everyone. We have said that sometime, maybe late spring, certainly by the summer that will be all go able to go on to phase two or the general public. There are many variables that will influence that specifically and, most importantly, how much vaccine we get for both the Madonna and the Pfizer vaccine. But then there are other vaccines in the pipeline that this spring might go to the FDA for their evaluation. That includes the Johnson and Johnson vaccine and the AstraZeneca vaccine. If those vaccines air approved, that will speed up the process significantly. We also want to ensure that the vaccine is provided in a way that is ethical, equitable and efficient, which is why Pennsylvania and the rest of the country is taking a phased approach to provide the vaccine as fast as possible in this fast assed manufactured and distributed to us. So what can people do now? So here’s what you can do right now as we roll out the vaccine. Certainly check with your health care provider to make sure that your candidate the vaccine confirm that with your health care provider. And as the governor said, please continue all of the mitigation measures that will protect you from exposure to covert 19. Wear a mask, wash your hands, use hand sanitizer social distance and avoid large and even small gatherings. Download the covert alert mobile app so you can get a notification. If you have come into contact with someone that is positive. We cannot let our guard down. Now. We must stay the course. We must stay united. And we must follow through on our personal and collective responsibility to each other, to our community, to our commonwealth, to prevent the spread of this virus. And now I’d like to introduce my friend and colleague Randy Pat Field director of the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency. Thank you, Dr Levin. Good afternoon, everyone. I’m pleased to be here with Governor Wolf and Dr Levin. The highlight. Some of our agencies ongoing efforts and support of the Department of Health as we continue into the next phase of the Cove in 19 Pandemic, which involves the distribution administration of Cove in 1919 vaccines. As you’ve heard here today, this phase comes during a peak winter resurgence that continues to affect the citizens of the state and adversely impact the health care delivery system while also continuing to disrupt businesses and personal lives. We’re in the midst of coordinating what will be the largest and most complex vaccine distribution and administration program in our states and this nation’s history, while still managing the ongoing impacts of the pandemic not only from a health perspective but also from an economic perspective. No one agency or level of government could do all that is needed to respond to such a complex and sustain event. That is where our agency comes in to be able to provide the support needed from a coordination, planning and logistics perspective. We regularly coordinate across all state agencies, stakeholders and levels of government during disasters and other emergencies to assure there’s a coordinated response. There is unity of effort, this pandemic has been no different as now more than probably ever before is required. Or it is going to be required that everyone working here is going to require everyone working together to effectively respond, using all the tools and expertise we have in our disposable or disposal. The citizens of the Commonwealth deserve nothing less. As we continue with the vaccination roll out, I’d like to just highlight two areas that many people may not be aware of that have played critical roles throughout the pandemic and will continue to play critical roles. Moving forward with the Vaccine administration one is our Private sector Partnership and Business Emergency Operation center. These components were developed a number of years ago to provide a conduit for businesses and other private sector of partners to receive information regularly, both during what we consider blue sky days as well as disasters and other emergencies. Working with the Department of Health and other agencies such as the the Department of Community and Economic Development and the Governor’s Office, we’ve been able to leverage the relationships that we have built over the years with these groups to provide the most up to date information as it becomes available so they can make the best informed decisions for their businesses and their operations. We’ve also hosted forums for partners to share best practices and challenges. They have worked through the complex situations that have been presented to them during the pandemic. This aspect will remain critical and be a critical component of our strategy to distribute relevant information to the business sector. There’s more information becomes available on vaccine administration. The second I’d like to highlight is the work that we have done. Uh, and it’s really a lot of it is behind the scenes to be able to manage what is a significantly complex process instead of problems. Sometimes as secretary of Health and Dr Levin indicated, the vaccine rollout has obviously is a dynamic process. We are dependent on information from the federal government. Sometimes this information changes definitely daily and sometimes hourly. This impacts our ability to be able to plan effectively, and it requires the ability to be able to crisis action plan and be able to develop plans and procedures and work flows in a very short period of time to be able to adjust to the constantly changing information. This is all done by a dedicated group of staff from our agency working with the other state agencies as applicable. To be able to develop these plans in very short order. We have used our crisis management software system repeatedly to be able to develop back and work flow in a very short period of time T to support a lot of the processes and procedures that we utilize throughout the pandemic. This will become critical as we move into the vaccination phase and get further into the vaccine roll out, especially as additional vaccine becomes available. We anticipate these challenges. We have been message by the federal government regarding these challenges and the need to be able to implement crisis action planning at times to be able to really make sure that we have needles going in people’s arms to deliver the vaccine. That is really the path to be able to get through the pandemic and to be able to stabilize things, and that’s what our agency is focused on. We have dedicated staff that work with the individuals needed to be able to develop these processes and procedures and continue to come to work every day to be ableto leverage those tools and support needed on behalf of the citizens of the Commonwealth. Our agency stands at the ready to be able to essentially, uh, meet any challenge that is needed with the end goal of being able to effectively distribute and administer the vaccine in support of the Department of Health and any other entities that are needed. And with that, I’d like to turn it back over to government will. We’re gonna open up for questions. Now. Our first reporter is Tyler Pratt from W. L V R. Tyler. Go ahead and a mute. Good afternoon. A quick question for the governor, followed by one for either Labine or pad field. Whoever it works for Governor Wolf following the events of Wednesday have you are Secretary of State Kathy Book, forehead toe, Retain any security or take on any additional measures. A number of the protests of the writers were from Pennsylvania. I think both of us feel very comfortable and secure where we are right now. All right, thank you. And, uh, for either secretary of being or pat Field thinking about how the vaccine may be administered and the logistical challenges a commonwealth thinking about, um, ramping up how we the infrastructure of how we get people covered vaccines may be considering possibly, like, drive through vaccination sites, which could handle larger volumes of people. Eso yes, we are considering how, as we get more vaccine in the future, how we’re going to continue to administer the vaccine, um, efficiently, but also equitably. So right now, you know, through healthcare workers were working with hospitals. They’re immunizing, not Onley their staff, but also other health care workers in their region. And we’re working with federally qualified health centers who are distributing vaccine and then, of course, health departments such as our community, um, and municipal health departments who are having some local vaccine clinics for those in one A. In addition, there’s a whole separate mission which is really coordinated by the federal government with Walgreens and CVS for the long term care facilities. But as we move through one a and certainly as we get into one B and then one see, we’re gonna be considering other measures. Now, one thing that we’re working on now is the federal government has just turned on the ability to use the retail pharmacy partnership were able to choose to partners that we can turn on within about two weeks, uh, to be able distribute in pharmacy. So that was just reported by the federal government this week. And so that’ll be another measure that we can use to distribute, uh, to distribute vaccine. Thank you. Next up, we have Chris Mamula from the post cause that Chris go ahead and on you. Thank you. Secretary Levina had a question about two things that have happened, uh, just this week and has has to do with the discovery of the identification of the, uh, contagious variant of the disease in Kaufman County and also the holiday get togethers. I’m wondering if these two factors are causing a special concern or special arrangements or anything different than the normal planning for the cove. It Sure So first I’ll talk about the holidays, so you know way Expect that we are seeing the beginning off an increasing number of new cases because of travel that people did over Christmas and then eventually New Year’s, and also potentially large or small gatherings that they attended Eso the entire country is seeing an increase in terms of the number of new cases. We tend to follow the pattern, Of course, of the rest of the country s. So we’ll be watching those numbers very carefully. We are in touch with the hospitals and other health care providers because several weeks after we see an increase, we see an increase in terms of hospitalizations. So we’ll need to work with them to prepare for that in terms of the of the of the variants. So, yes, we have detected one case of the United Kingdom variant. This was someone who had obtained the the the virus from international travel. So it does not involve actually community spread in Pennsylvania. We’re doing all of the robust, uh, case investigations and contact tracing involving that case. But there is no evidence that there is community spread. That variant in Pennsylvania are actually in the United States. Now, we’re gonna be expecting more cases, and we’re obviously in contact with the C D. C. As those cases air detected. Thank you, Secretary. Thank you. Next up, we have Steve Novak from the Lehigh Valley Times. I’m sorry. Early High Valley live. I’m sorry. Good. Steve. Sorry. Sorry. Can you hear me? Yes. Okay. Thank you for taking questions today, Uh, kind of going off of the last question there, looking at the pace of cases. Uh, by our count, we’re seeing 100,000 new cases every two weeks or faster in about 100. Uh, and sorry about 1000 deaths about every week. Eso how concerning are these faces right now, I think you touch a little bit on what’s driving them. And are there any additional recommendations things people can do besides three usual things that you talk about every week? Well, so, yes, we are been observing our case rates obviously extremely carefully every day. Um, today we announced 10,000, 178 new cases. That’s the first time we’ve been above 10,000 for a number of weeks. And, um, you know, as I discussed this with other public health officials nationally and locally, I mean, we think this is an increase from the holidays. This is not completely unexpected. Eso will be will be watching those numbers really carefully and then preparing for thean illness that these cases will cause and the potential hospitalizations. What people can do is to continue to practice all of the measures that the government I just talked about. It really is important. Toe wear a mask whenever you are outside your home. It is really important to wash your hands social distance, avoid large and small gatherings and really stay home unless you have a need, uh, to to go out. And that is the way that we will be able to stop the spread. Thank you. Next up, we have Paul go from the Pittsburgh Business Times. Go ahead, Paul. Hi. Secretary and Governor. Thanks for taking the time to questions. One is, um what do you see? Changing in the vaccine delivery process with the transition to the bite administration. Is that going thio Speed things up? Will that be something that, uh, maybe because of the transition, it might take a little time? How does that factor into your plans? Eso I don’t think that the transition will cause any hitch in the plans. Um, I know that that the Biden transition team is speaking with all of course, operation warp speed and the CDC and actually through esto, the Association of State and Territory health officials of which, on president, this year, we are having weekly in regular discussions with the Biden transition team about all aspects of the cove in 19 Pandemic, including having robust fact discussions about the the vaccines. Now, we just heard in the from the news today that there might be a difference in terms of how they will distribute the vaccines that they might not be holding back. Um, the vaccines for the second dose. Uh, that is brand new information in the last hour. And so we will be working to incorporate that into our plans. Yeah, The follow up is there was a request by letter for you from the Western Pennsylvania Chief Medical Officers Collaborative on by some of the hospitals here in western Pennsylvania, about being able to take a greater role in the vaccine. Roll out. I was wondering, if you’ve responded to then be having what your responses eso We have had a preliminary response to them, and we’re working on our final response. I mean, hospitals have a tremendous role in terms of the distribution and administration of the vaccines. I mean, right now they have the mission of immunizing not Onley their staff, but healthcare workers in the in their region along with federally qualified health centers and then, um, and then health departments so they actually have a very large role. And we’re always pleased to collaborate and coordinate with academic and other hospitals and health systems. Thank you. Next, we have Davian courts from the Beaver County Times. Go ahead and on Mute Day Wien Thank you so much for the time today. So we’re hearing from some of our counties that have more community based hospitals that are do not have Health department. They’re hearing a lot of confusion and no real clear plan for being able to get vaccine to the people in one B and one C. There be. They said that they’re being told to start getting those people in mind, but there’s no real plan for how this is gonna roll out with the updated plan today. Will we be seeing some more direction and some more clarity and how we’re going to vaccinate all these people? Yes. So again, we’re just putting out the plan now to make sure that we are in accordance with the, uh, a sip CDC recommendations. Now we know that some hospitals, particularly in some rural areas, uh, may have been able to move more quickly through one. A. Their staffs are smaller, etcetera. So we’ve not told anyone to stop vaccinating in any way. We want to make sure that we’re getting vaccine in tow. Arms. The vaccine providers should be vaccinating those nonaffiliated healthcare providers. So that is emergency medical technicians, that is, other physicians and other health care workers that need the vaccine that don’t aren’t aligned with the hospital or health system before moving toe one B. But we’re gonna be having mawr guidance. Um, you know, as more information comes out even as soon as next week, thank you. And the other, I guess we have to follow up with that is, um this may be related. Um, we’re also hearing from some community, some counties where we’re hearing that, you know, school nurses are already being able to get vaccinated in some kind of, but not in others. Um, is that kind of that result of the more rural counties that are able to move through one a quicker maybe, But school nurses are healthcare personnel, so school nurses air included, actually, in one A, so we would encourage any hospital health system F Q eight C or or health department to vaccinate school nurses. Now teachers and other school personnel are in are in one B and again, we’ll be having some more specific information about that next week. But, you know, we don’t want vaccines goto waste under any circumstances. So if I mean, if there’s nobody from one a standing there, please vaccinate the person that’s standing there to make sure the vaccine gets and arms. Thank you so much. Thank you. Next up, we have Asia tab from CBS 21. Go ahead, Asia. Hi, Dr Levin. Thank you for your time today So much. My question is, how has the response been to those who have already taken the vaccine? So, I mean, we have had, uh, you know, no, particularly have had no particular, um, at severe adverse reactions or any reports of any problems with the vaccine. We know that you know, the vaccine is inducing an immune response, and you can have when you have an immune response, a sore arm. You might feel somewhat tired. You might have a low grade fever, and sometimes that is seen. But we have seen no severe reactions in Pennsylvania. Thank you. Next up, we have Jan Murphy from Penn Live. Go ahead, Jan. All right. Thank you. I have questions for the Governor Pacific. Hi, Jan. Hi, Governor. I was wondering at the start of this you condemned the attack on the U. S. Capitol and those who participated in it. I was wondering what you have to say about Senator Mass Triano, who went down the back Trump rally. And you think he should resign or be held accountable in any way. He should be held accountable. And I think the voters should should should do that. I think I tweeted out a response that I was really upset. I think he and others, as I said earlier, who have responsibility for for speaking the truth and the honor of serving Pennsylvanians, need to make sure that that they’re telling the truth should he resign? If that z his decision, But you’re not calling for them. I’m not calling for it yet. Thanks, Jan. Next up we have Jim Millward from K Y W Go ahead, Jim. Uh, in addition, you mentioned the Biden administration Been talking about the instead of holding back at the doses of sending them out. Eight Governor has also sent a letter of U. S. Health Secretary. Uh, Governor, what did you consider where you ask to be a part of that? Did you consider being a part of that on? Do you have any thoughts or concerns about sending out all the virus and not holding that booster back first? I was not asked to be part of that letter, and I did not sign it. The concern, I think, is that of the many health professionals I’ll let Secretary Levin weigh in on this, but the, uh, the concern is that we get this vaccine into as many arms as we can as quickly and efficiently as possible. Uh, what the federal government until now has been doing is to say, we want to make sure that that those, uh, the both the Pfizer and the Madonna are to cycle two shots in the inoculation process. They want to make sure that there’s enough of the second cycle on DSO. They held back basically half of what was available on. That was the way to make sure that that second shot would be available. The by administration agrees a zai. Understand it now, this is out in the last hour. But the Biden administration agrees that that second shot needs to be done in a timely manner on. They’re gonna use the Defense Production Act to make sure and other means to make sure that the supply is effective. I think they’re trying to do whatever they can to get the vaccine out as quickly as possible. How they do that? I’m not sure what the right way is there working? Uh, they may know things that I don’t know, but I think we’re all on the same page of wanting to get these vaccines out as quickly as possible. Secretary of being, uh, So Thank you, Governor. I think one of the important points that we want to make is that we certainly agree with the F d A and the C D. C. That that we need to follow the guidelines put forth by the FDA and CDC in terms of having two doses. So we do not agree with what’s being done in the United Kingdom, where they’re going with a one dose regimen on. Then we’ll catch up on the second dose when it’s possible. So we really need to follow the science in terms of how the vaccines were studied and how they were designed. So the Pfizer vaccine a second dose in 21 days in the modern, A vaccine a second dose in 28 days now is the governor was saying, I mean previously Operation Warp speed to make sure that that second dose was available was actually putting aside, um, a second dose on. And they were doing this, not us, uh, for for every vaccine that’s given. And then they would automatically distribute that. What the Biden administration is saying is that they have complete confidence in the manufacturing and distribution system of Madonna and Pfizer and Operation Warp Speed, that that second dose will be available when it’s necessary, and not to store the second dose for 3 to 4 weeks. But to put it out, I think that that’s fine as long as you know that second dose will be available. Now, of course, they have much more granular knowledge about conversations with Madonna and with Pfizer and with operation were speed itself. And so what it looks like is that were given their specific knowledge that that that that doses will be there A. So long as the doses air there will be able to get more vaccine into arms. We’ve heard that there may be some health systems or hospitals that are holding half of their doses back to make sure they have the second dose. Is that a decision that they could make? Would you tell them or advise them in any way to do that or not To do that, we would advise them not to do that. And I’m not aware of any hospital in Pennsylvania that is notified us that they’re doing that So we don’t want to hold. Certainly the the principal even now has not been for the state or hospitals toe. Hold back the second dose again. Right. Until, um, until now, Operation warp speed was specifically doing that. I still would not recommend that any hospital hold back dose. If they’re getting doses, they should administer the doses. Thank you. Next we have Erin McCarthy from the Philadelphia Inquirer. Go ahead, Aaron. Thanks, Governor and Dr Levin, um, is state seeing a widespread issue with vaccine hesitancy in health workers? Um, is that contributing to the low number of doses that have been administered relative to the amount that have been delivered. You know, you even understanding if there is a perhaps 48 hour delay in reporting the number of doses that’s that have been administered relative to the amount delivered is Yeah, I do want I do want to emphasize that is that it’s it’s it’s really not going to be a good comparison to how much has been quote unquote delivered and then the daily report of the administration, because I think that with the delays of delivery and reporting, it’s not gonna mean that much. But given your question, we are seeing some vaccine hesitancy. We’re seeing some vaccine hesitancy in hospitals. We’re seeing some vaccine hesitant hesitancy in the long term care facilities. Um, you know, So what we really need is we need a national communication strategy. We need a national strategy coming out of the CDC in the federal government to communicate the safety and the effectiveness of these vaccines and to and to help people understand how and why they should receive them. And so we’re looking forward under the Biden administration for this national communication plan and we have discussed that with the transition committee and that the fellow also on the topic of communication, Uh, in the future, you mentioned that people who may be eligible for the vaccine and one B that they can reach out to their doctors now to see, uh, if they’re a candidate. But will they be notified in any kind of mass communication effort when it’s their turn? I’m thinking about older people who may be shut in or not followed the news as closely as you or I, or perhaps don’t even have a primary care doctor to call. So, yes, we will be again doing our own communication about the about the vaccine through press conferences, through press releases, through social media and through our communications with health care providers when you know as we move through the stages. But I think it’s critically important that we have a national communications plan again about the vaccine and the safety and effectiveness. Thank you. Next we have David Caplan from W. T. A. Go ahead, David. Hi, Dr Levin. A couple of questions you said earlier in the week, just talking about the stimulus money and needing that to sort of ramp up the public communication regarding the lower groups. Uh, that air vaccinated, going to get vaccinated. Yet any update on that stimulus money and the strategy to put out similar to other states, you know, start giving people an idea of when, exactly and how they might be able to get vaccinated. Yeah, We’re gonna be putting out more information week by week in terms of of, of how and then when given the the, uh the different phases that we’re outlining today. I don’t have that much more information about the stimulus funding. We’re just starting to get information from the C. D. C about the plan we have to put together and how we apply for that money. We hope that the federal government will be efficient in terms of evaluating our plan and getting us the money as soon as possible. That will help us in terms of vaccine distribution, hiring personnel to do vaccine clinics as well as our communication plan. Thank you. Next we have our final question for today from Flora Pass Terrero from Penn Much. Go ahead, Flora. Hi. Good afternoon. My question is for the governor. Hi, Flora. Hi governor. One of the first things you said was quote a future without Kobe. 19 is coming. We’re about 10 months into this and from the get go, you’ve been saying it’s not you, it’s the It’s the virus that has led to the mitigation and all of the restrictions that it can get. Mark, you can need to be with the virus in terms of cases, in terms of hospitalizations, in terms of the vaccine distribution, where do we need to be in your mind that you will be able to say Okay, I’m gonna lift these restrictions and I’m going to allow businesses to operate at 100% way. Need to be to see a really clear drop. And I think the vaccine, uh, you know, we get to 50 60 70% people having the vaccine. I think we could be really confident that we’ve made that were on the road. Thio Complete elimination of covert and we can get back to life is normal. Uh, exactly. I don’t have the exact 70%. It’s a 65%. I don’t have exactly what the number is, uh, but, uh, the vaccine is the key to that future. And when that happens, when we get to the point where we all feel confident, confident that we could reopen, we we will. And again keep in mind this is not a decision that I’m making. It’s not a decision that the government’s making every each individual Pennsylvania is gonna make. That made 13 million decisions as to whether it’s safe to go to a restaurant, safe, to go to a store, safe to go to a family gathering. And I don’t know how long that Z gonna last. But I think, uh, that’s, uh something that we can all start to think about once we get past the crisis we’re in right now with, as the secretary said, 10,000 cases just yesterday in Pennsylvania, that’s too many, and we can’t conceive of normality. Normally, when we have that many cases, I forgive me. There was a little bit of interference there. Did you say that you would feel comfortable when 60 to 75% of the population was vaccinated? Is that what you said? I e. I would feel comfortable. I also want to make clear that what I feel is not the sum total of what’s gonna happen. We could weaken. The policies, could change. But each individual Pennsylvania is gonna have to make up their own mind as to whether they want to go out and whether they want to get back to life as it was before the pandemic. And I don’t know how long that that is going to take in terms of the policies, I think I’d be looking at a 65 to 75% vaccination rate. I think I’d be looking at a really fast drop in the in the case count I’d be looking at You know how well our hospitals were doing in terms of their capacity. Those are the kinds of things on. I think I don’t know if that’s two months away or three months away or six months away. But I think right now we see it coming because we have the vaccines. That’s something we did not have in March. So, yes, I can much more easily visualized ah, life beyond Kobe 19 now than I could back in March. Okay?
Pennsylvania governor, health secretary give update on COVID-19 and vaccine plan
An updated plan for rolling out the COVID-19 vaccine in Pennsylvania was announced by Gov. Tom Wolf and Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine on Friday.Watch the vaccine news conference in the video player above.The new plan adds a “Phase 1C” which includes people ages 65-74 and those considered at high risk because of health issues such as cancer, COPD and heart conditions, and pregnant women.Phase 1C also includes many essential workers who are not part of 1A or 1B. The list includes public safety; transportation; energy and wastewater workers; finance and banking; federal, state, county and local government workers; elected officials; judiciary and staff; legal services; media services; communication workers; and public health.The plan includes a Phase 2 for the general public when more vaccine is available. This includes anyone 16 and older who was not previously covered.(Click here to read the updated vaccine plan.)This story will be updated. Below is the full statement from the governor’s office.The commonwealth’s COVID-19 vaccination distribution plan was designed to be fluid and flexible to meet guidance and recommendations from the federal government. Today, Governor Tom Wolf and Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine announced the fourth version of the plan, detailing the updates and how the state is working to ensure safe, swift implementation.“Vaccinations are an important tool in stopping the spread of COVID-19, and the Pennsylvania Department of Health and the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency have done a lot of hard work to facilitate a smooth, strategic vaccine rollout,” Gov. Wolf said. “But most of the vaccine distribution process is controlled by the federal government and unfortunately, that means there are a lot of unknowns.“However, my administration is doing everything we can now to prepare for the day when the vaccine is more widely available. There are hopeful signs we must embrace. They will help us regain control in a time when many things may seem very out of control.”The first shipments of vaccine to Pennsylvania are being given to health care workers, and through the Federal Pharmacy Partnership with information the Department of Health has shared with the federal government, people working and residing in the state’s long-term care facilities have also begun to receive the vaccine. This work continues.While the vaccine supply remains limited the department’s goals are to prioritize persons who receive the vaccine to maximize benefits and minimize harms caused by the virus. Ongoing goals remain to promote justice, mitigate health inequities, and promote transparency. Getting Pennsylvanians immunized with a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine is an essential step in reducing the number of cases, hospitalizations and deaths. The Department of Health guides the distribution and administration of the COVID-19 vaccine throughout 66 of the 67 counties in the commonwealth. Philadelphia County receives independent federal funding, its own vaccine allotment, and is establishing its own COVID-19 vaccination administration plan.The state’s vaccination plan follows the blueprint set forth by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) regarding a COVID-19 Vaccination Plan. The plan is an interim one that is being continuously updated to reflect the latest recommendations from the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) and other guidance available and feedback received. Dr. Levine provided details of the newly revised state plan.“This update aligns our plan with the latest recommendations from the ACIP and CDC,” Dr. Levine said. “Phase 1A has been further defined to identify specific health care providers. Phase 1B is now a significantly larger group of people that includes people age 75 and older, those with significant health issues and essential workers. This update also creates a Phase 1C, which is those people age 65-74 and people with high-risk conditions such as cancer, COPD, hearth conditions and pregnant women, and those essential workers not included in Phase 1A or B.”When more vaccine is available, anyone who was not previously covered and is age 16 and older, will now be vaccinated in Phase 2.The revised plan as posted on the department’s website includes a comment form for all interested parties to provide input to be considered by the department. This form helps to fulfill the administration’s goal of promoting transparency and making this fluid process as inclusive as possible. “Our recent success in slowing the spread of the virus, and the hope that we’ve been given with the introduction of these vaccines should energize all of us to continue the fight against this disease,” Gov. Wolf said. “We need to remain patient as vaccine distribution expands and the Department of Health works to keep everyone informed of the status of vaccine.“It will take time, but a future without COVID-19 is possible, and I thank all Pennsylvanians for joining me in fighting for that future.”The most up-to-date information regarding the COVID-19 vaccine, including the fourth version of the plan can be found on the vaccine section of the department’s website.
HARRISBURG, Pa. —
An updated plan for rolling out the COVID-19 vaccine in Pennsylvania was announced by Gov. Tom Wolf and Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine on Friday.
Watch the vaccine news conference in the video player above.
The new plan adds a “Phase 1C” which includes people ages 65-74 and those considered at high risk because of health issues such as cancer, COPD and heart conditions, and pregnant women.
Phase 1C also includes many essential workers who are not part of 1A or 1B. The list includes public safety; transportation; energy and wastewater workers; finance and banking; federal, state, county and local government workers; elected officials; judiciary and staff; legal services; media services; communication workers; and public health.
The plan includes a Phase 2 for the general public when more vaccine is available. This includes anyone 16 and older who was not previously covered.
(Click here to read the updated vaccine plan.)
This story will be updated. Below is the full statement from the governor’s office.
The commonwealth’s COVID-19 vaccination distribution plan was designed to be fluid and flexible to meet guidance and recommendations from the federal government. Today, Governor Tom Wolf and Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine announced the fourth version of the plan, detailing the updates and how the state is working to ensure safe, swift implementation.
“Vaccinations are an important tool in stopping the spread of COVID-19, and the Pennsylvania Department of Health and the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency have done a lot of hard work to facilitate a smooth, strategic vaccine rollout,” Gov. Wolf said. “But most of the vaccine distribution process is controlled by the federal government and unfortunately, that means there are a lot of unknowns.
“However, my administration is doing everything we can now to prepare for the day when the vaccine is more widely available. There are hopeful signs we must embrace. They will help us regain control in a time when many things may seem very out of control.”
The first shipments of vaccine to Pennsylvania are being given to health care workers, and through the Federal Pharmacy Partnership with information the Department of Health has shared with the federal government, people working and residing in the state’s long-term care facilities have also begun to receive the vaccine. This work continues.
While the vaccine supply remains limited the department’s goals are to prioritize persons who receive the vaccine to maximize benefits and minimize harms caused by the virus. Ongoing goals remain to promote justice, mitigate health inequities, and promote transparency.
Getting Pennsylvanians immunized with a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine is an essential step in reducing the number of cases, hospitalizations and deaths. The Department of Health guides the distribution and administration of the COVID-19 vaccine throughout 66 of the 67 counties in the commonwealth. Philadelphia County receives independent federal funding, its own vaccine allotment, and is establishing its own COVID-19 vaccination administration plan.
The state’s vaccination plan follows the blueprint set forth by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) regarding a COVID-19 Vaccination Plan. The plan is an interim one that is being continuously updated to reflect the latest recommendations from the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) and other guidance available and feedback received.
Dr. Levine provided details of the newly revised state plan.
“This update aligns our plan with the latest recommendations from the ACIP and CDC,” Dr. Levine said. “Phase 1A has been further defined to identify specific health care providers. Phase 1B is now a significantly larger group of people that includes people age 75 and older, those with significant health issues and essential workers. This update also creates a Phase 1C, which is those people age 65-74 and people with high-risk conditions such as cancer, COPD, hearth conditions and pregnant women, and those essential workers not included in Phase 1A or B.”
When more vaccine is available, anyone who was not previously covered and is age 16 and older, will now be vaccinated in Phase 2.
The revised plan as posted on the department’s website includes a comment form for all interested parties to provide input to be considered by the department. This form helps to fulfill the administration’s goal of promoting transparency and making this fluid process as inclusive as possible.
“Our recent success in slowing the spread of the virus, and the hope that we’ve been given with the introduction of these vaccines should energize all of us to continue the fight against this disease,” Gov. Wolf said. “We need to remain patient as vaccine distribution expands and the Department of Health works to keep everyone informed of the status of vaccine.
“It will take time, but a future without COVID-19 is possible, and I thank all Pennsylvanians for joining me in fighting for that future.”
The most up-to-date information regarding the COVID-19 vaccine, including the fourth version of the plan can be found on the vaccine section of the department’s website.