CARLISLE, Pa. (WHTM) — COVID cases in Pennsylvania continue to rise and now one EMS company in the Midstate is requiring its staff to be vaccinated, and urging others to do the same.
The assistant chief of Cumberland Goodwill EMS in Cumberland County says they’re seeing more COVID patients and hospital overcrowding. He says getting the vaccine is important for everyone to get the care they need.
Cumberland County has one of the higher vaccination rates in Pa. but even there, COVID cases are trending in the wrong direction.
“We were in early July only seeing one or two COVID patients suspected or confirmed a week. Now that’s up to 11, 12, 13, even 14 in some recent weeks,” Cumberland Goodwill EMS Assistant Chief Nathan Harig said.
Harig says some of those COVID patients are causing backlogs at local hospitals.
“We’ve also seen the divert status of hospitals that say ‘hey, I’m overwhelmed right now. It’s very much a request, but it’s that idea that look, unless this patient is the sickest of the sick, please bypass me and take them someplace else,'” Harig said
Harig says Cumberland Goodwill made the decision several months back that once there was a fully FDA approved vaccine, they would mandate the shot.
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“It’s one of those just add-on vaccinations that it just makes sense. We’ve had a tremendous response from our staff. We’re over 97% vaccinated. October 1st is our deadline for our last few holdouts,” Harig said.
President Biden announced Thursday a new OSHA rule to require businesses with 100 or more employees to get vaccinated or face weekly testing. It also mandates workers at health care facilities that receive medicare payments to get vaccinated.
“You hate that they have to mandate it, but it’s one of those tools that ‘hey, we’re just trying to push everyone over the finish line because we’re all done with this pandemic,” Harig said.
Harig says even though hospital admission numbers aren’t necessarily going up, wait times, crowding and stress levels are.