Feb. 19—HERMITAGE — The county's transit service could help give a lift to people who scheduled a COVID-19 vaccination but can't get a ride to the clinic.

Mercer County Community Transit is providing free rides to COVID-19 vaccination appointments. Mercer County Regional Council of Governments Executive Director Kim DiCintio announced the program Wednesday at the COG's meeting.

"Vaccines are hard enough to get a hold of, we don't want transit to be an issue," she said.

Those with an vaccine appointment but no transportation can contact COG's transit office at 724-981-6222 and schedule an appointment for MCCT to pick them up, take the person to get vaccinated and bring them home, DiCintio said.

She recommended that people call MCCT as soon as they schedule their vaccinations to give the service a day or two notice. The transit buses are not doing drive-through clinics but the agency's service is county-wide.

"Even if it helps one person, we're happy with that," said Jill Boozer, administrative transit manager with COG.

COG also operates the Shenango Valley Shuttle Service. While MCCT offers service in Mercer County and limited service in Lawrence, Crawford and Butler counties, the service can also take people to Pittsburgh for medical appointments, Boozer said.

The SVSS is COG's fixed-route service that operates four routes in the Shenango Valley and one route to the Mercer County Courthouse and the Grove City Outlets.

MCCT has 16,693 registered clients. Prior to restrictions imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic, MCCT provided over 96,000 passenger trips and SVSS provided over 83,000 passenger trips in a single year, Boozer said.

For more information on COG's transportation services or other resources, residents can call 724-981-6222.

By the numbers

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 56,384 new COVID-19 cases Monday in the United States, the lowest figure since Oct. 18, when the CDC reported 47,144 new cases.

The seven-day average for new cases fell to 77,385 as of Thursday, the lowest figure since Oct. 28 (75,317).

Daily death counts have fallen over the past few days as well. On Monday, the CDC reported 1,217 fatalities, the lowest since Dec. 6 (1,089). The U.S. has not had a day with fewer than 1,000 COVID-19 deaths since Nov. 29 (901).

The nation has averaged 2,708 fatalities a day over the last week, but that number should decrease sharply by Saturday, when the Feb. 12 total — 5,520, the second-worst day of the pandemic — drops out of the seven-day rolling average statistics.

Hospital preparedness

Pennsylvania Department of Health reported Thursday that hospitalization numbers continue to improve. COVID-19 admissions, which were more than 4,500 a month ago, were at 2,124, a decrease of 54%.

Intensive care unit admissions fell by almost 50%, from 950 to 467, in the past month. The state's hospitals had 763 ICU beds available Thursday. Ventilator use decreased from 583 on Jan. 19 to 255 Thursday, a decline of 56%.

Like David L. Dye on Facebook or email him at ddye@sharonherald.com.

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