Mercer County lags on vaccine rate

COVID-19 statistics as of May 2, 2021

Mercer County continued to lag behind other Pennsylvania counties in the rate of residents fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

As of Sunday, 33,172 Mercer County residents had received two doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines or one dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. That comes to 30,315.1 per 100,000 population, which places the county in 18th place for the vaccination rate among Pennsylvania counties.

The county was ranked 15th on April 26 and was sitting at 11th as of last month.

Mercer County's ranking is based on figures provided by the state Department of Health, which is tracking vaccinations in 66 of the state's 67 counties, with Philadelphia as the exception.

That data shows that 42.9% of Mercer County residents have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, which places the county in 38th place.

Montour County has the highest percentage of residents, 66%, with at least one dose. That means that 10,017 of Montour County's 15,170 eligible residents are at least partly vaccinated.

Mercer County has 92,573 eligible residents, with 39,754 having received a dose.

Hospital demand

Pennsylvania hospitals report having 2,283 people hospitalized with COVID-19, with 518 being treated in intensive care units. The 14-day moving average for hospitalizations was at 2,533.3 Sunday, lower than the 2,644 from the previous Sunday, April 25.

However, hospitalizations are still higher than it the 1,501 figure from March 22, before the current surge. The previous hospitalization surge peaked Dec. 28, at 6,089.

The spring surge peak was 2,724.6, on May 4.

U.S. plans to expand vaccine distribution

WASHINGTON — The White House says the U.S. trade representative will begin talks with the World Trade Organization on ways to overcome intellectual property issues that are keeping critically needed COVID-19 vaccines from being more widely distributed.

The White House has been under intense pressure to join an effort to help waive patent rules for the vaccines so that poorer countries can begin to make their own generic versions.

White House chief of staff Ron Klain said Sunday on CBS’ “Face the Nation” that U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai will be starting talks “on how we can get this vaccine more widely distributed, more widely licensed, more widely shared.”

Klain and National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said the administration would have more to say on the matter in the coming days.

India expands vaccinations

NEW DELHI — India has opened vaccinations to all adults in hopes of taming a monstrous spike in COVID-19 infections.

The world’s largest maker of vaccines is still short of critical supplies — the result of lagging manufacturing and raw material shortages. Those factors delayed the rollout in several states.

Only a fraction of India’s population likely can afford the prices charged by private hospitals for the shot. That means states and the federal government will be in charge of immunizing 900 million Indian adults.

India set another global record Saturday with 401,993 daily cases, taking its tally to more than 19.1 million. There were 3,523 confirmed deaths in the past 24 hours, raising the overall death toll to 211,853, according to the Health Ministry.

President masks out of 'habit'

WASHINGTON — A top White House adviser to President Joe Biden is suggesting that he still wears a mask outdoors because it has become a “matter of habit.”

Anita Dunn told CNN’s “State of the Union” that she still wore her mask outdoors after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said fully vaccinated people like herself and the president don’t need to, especially if they’re outside alone and away from other people.

Said Dunn: “I myself found that I was still wearing my mask outdoors this week because it has become such a matter of habit.”

Biden wore a mask outside several times last week as he approached the microphone for speeches.

The CDC recently said fully vaccinated Americans don’t need to cover their faces anymore unless they’re in a big crowd of strangers.

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