Rosalie Danchanko

Rosalie Danchanko

Nearly 3,000 people will get a shot in the arm by the end of this month after a third mass-vaccination clinic was announced Tuesday.

Highlands Health, Johnstown’s free medical clinic, has received almost 1,200 doses of Pfizer vaccine and will hold its vaccination clinic Friday and Saturday at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, 335 Locust St., in downtown Johnstown.

The Highlands Health announcement comes just five days after Conemaugh Health System and the Cambria County Department of Emergency Services announced clinics scheduled for March 22 and 29 at The Johnstown Galleria in Richland Township, with more than 1,800 doses to be given.

“To our absolute surprise, the clinic will be receiving more than 1,100 COVID vaccines this week,” Executive Director Rosalie Danchanko said. “The clinic has been requesting large quantities of the vaccines for the past month and has only received 300 doses to date.”

The free clinic has been signing up clients to receive the vaccine, but still had about 100 slots available, as of Tuesday afternoon.

“We have called all of the people on our waiting list and preregistered them,” Danchanko said. Some of those on the list had received vaccine elsewhere, which created the open slots.

Registration for those in Phase 1A of the state’s vaccine protocol is available online at www.highlandshealthclinic.com or by phone at 814-534-6242. Danchanko said a standby list is also being created.

The free clinic has focused its vaccine outreach on low-income neighborhoods and vulnerable populations, even sending volunteers door to door for registration and having nurses provide in-home vaccinations for homebound individuals.

Highlands Health is launching a new robot calling system by Nightingale Calling LLC that uses artificial intelligence software to call or text those registered and even help with free transportation through CamTran, Danchanko said.

A phone’s caller ID will display 814-655-2008 when the scheduling call comes in.

Nightingale Calling LLC is a startup company that also provides a calling system that does safety and wellness checks for separated families, founder J. Scott Lowery said. The company is based in Hartford, Connecticut. Lowery is a native of Latrobe.

About 40 volunteers are lined up to help with the Highlands Health Clinics, scheduled for 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

Maj. Bruce Jordon and members of the 458th Army Reserve Engineering Battalion in Upper Yoder Township will provide a military tent where those arriving will be staged before entering the church.

“We are setting up five inoculation stations,” Danchanko said. “They will come in a few at a time and check in. Then they will march right in there and get a shot in their arm.”

An area has been set up for those receiving the shot to be observed for at least 15 minutes in case of severe allergic reactions.

“If they want to go upstairs and pray, they can do that too,” she said. “It’s going to be a holy event.”

Meanwhile, the COVID-19 pandemic refuses to release its grip on the region.

There were 2,975 new cases and 40 additional deaths Tuesday, bringing Pennsylvania’s totals to 953,136 cases and 24,396 deaths attributed to COVID-19 since the pandemic struck in March 2020.

The seven-day rolling average of new cases is now 2,471 cases a day. While that is down from 2,659 two weeks ago and from 3,775 average cases a day one month ago, it remains well above the initial spring 2020 surge and even the mid-summer surge when some parks and swimming pools were closed.

Westmoreland County’s 684th death was the eight-county region’s only additional COVID-19 fatality. It was the second consecutive day with only one area death in the Department of Health’s midday update.

Cambria County added 49 new COVID-19 cases and now has totals of 11,875 cases and 396 deaths.

Somerset County added 25 cases to reach 7,750 cases and 186 deaths.

Bedford County added three cases to reach 3,847 cases and 129 deaths.

Blair County added 23 cases to reach 10,741 cases and 305 deaths.

Indiana County added nine cases to reach 4,140 cases and 160 deaths.

Clearfield County added 45 cases to reach 6,495 cases and 117 deaths.

Centre County added 90 cases to reach 12,177 cases and 213 deaths.

Westmoreland County added 100 cases to reach 27,303 cases and 684 deaths.

More than 3 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been put in the arms of more than 2 million Pennsylvanians.

Through Monday, 981,209 are considered fully protected and another 1,085,121 have received the first dose of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine and are partially protected.

Just more than 480,000 doses of vaccine have been allocated to be administered this week. 

Randy Griffith is a multimedia reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. He can be reached at 532-5057. Follow him on Twitter @PhotoGriffer57.

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