DuBOIS — Penn Highlands Healthcare Chief Medical Officer Russell Cameron provided an overview of some updates on data relating to COVID-19 during Thursday’s media teleconference.

“Early on in the pandemic, national virology and infectious disease experts stated that when the vaccine would become available, vaccinating healthcare workers, and then elderly individuals, would be the most effective place to start vaccinations,” said Cameron. “Starting with these two groups isn’t just a process of prioritizing who is most vulnerable, this approach also protects the care providers who are caring for those who become ill with COVID.”

Within the past several weeks, both statewide and within Penn Highlands Healthcare, Cameron said they began to see infection rates lowering.

“Yesterday (Wednesday), our count of COVID-19 in patients, in our systems, was approximately 15, which is much lower than it was in December,” said Cameron. “It’s very important for folks to know that it is as important as ever to continue to practice precautions, such as wearing masks, over the mouth and nose, social distancing, frequent hand, washing and sanitizing, avoiding crowds, and public locations, as much as possible.”

Cameron said it’s important for everyone to be aware that the infection rates continue to change and, at any time, there could be spikes in the number of cases, which could lead to another lockdown.

“If we continue to practice these precautions, we hope we won’t reach a point again,” said Cameron. “We have established the age guidelines for our current vaccine eligibility, based on global mortality rates. Data tells us, age is the most significant determining factor, correlated with COVID-19 related mortalities.”

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