UK COVID-19 variant found in Montco, officials ask Pa. Health Department for vaccine increase

MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Pa. (KYW Newsradio) — The more contagious variant of the coronavirus has been found in Montgomery County. County health officials are now begging the Pennsylvania Department of Health to increase the amount of vaccines coming into the county.

Montgomery County Commissioner Val Arkoosh didn’t say where exactly the variant was located, but said the person who tested for it hasn’t traveled anywhere recently.

“This is just a reminder that it is quite likely that this more contagious U.K. variant is here in Montgomery County,” she said.

Arkoosh said her goal is simple.

“I want to get as many shots into as many arms here in Montgomery County as humanly possible.”

And the best way to do that, she said, would be to centralize the supply coming into the county through the county’s clinic, which is doing 1,000 shots per day and could go higher if they had more vaccines.

But she said the state health department is in charge of allotment, splitting up vaccines coming into the county, some to the county’s Office of Public Health, some to hospitals and health systems, others to independent pharmacies or health care providers.

She said that model makes sense for Pennsylvania counties that don’t have a health department.

“But in our county, the best, most efficient, most equitable way to get vaccine into people’s arms is to give as much as possible to our office of public health,” Arkoosh said.

She said they’re also begging the state and federal government to take demographics, such as the number of people 65 and older, into account when they determine allotment of vaccines.

More than 120,000 people have registered with the county, and she recommends people sign up with as many outlets as possible.