50+ organizations urge Franklin County residents to take precautions against COVID-19
Dozens of organizations around Franklin County have united to encourage local people to stem the spread of COVID-19.
Fifty-seven groups have signed on to Healthy Franklin County's Call to Action as of Dec. 28. Together, they urge people to follow steps to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus:
- Wash hands frequently.
- Wear a mask, properly, when not at home.
- Stay home as much as possible, and practice social distancing when elsewhere.
- Get tested as soon as possible if symptoms arise.
"It's critical to demonstrate unity during a public health crisis," said Noel Purdy, executive director of Healthy Franklin County. "It's been a challenge communicating to the general community the gravity of the situation and how we all can save lives together by wearing a mask, washing our hands and social distancing. These are simple measures that can alleviate the stress on our healthcare system."
Like the trend seen in Pennsylvania and nationwide, December has been the toughest month of the pandemic so far in Franklin County. Fifteen days this month saw more than 100 cases reported, and more than 200 cases were reported on five of those days, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Health.
The highest number of cases reported in November was 170; October's highest daily case number was 54. Both were county records when they were first reported.
The fall through early winter has been the deadliest period of the pandemic. November and December both saw more than 75 deaths, accounting for more than 73% of the 211 COVID-19 deaths since the spring.
More than 100 people have been hospitalized with COVID-19 at the county's hospitals every day for two weeks. The moving 14-day average of COVID-19 hospitalizations was just over 108 on Dec. 28, down slightly from the peak of 112 on Dec. 22. The number began rapidly growing in early November after months of just a few daily hospitalizations..
South Central Community Action Programs, which helps families facing poverty, is one of the local organizations to join the call to action to help stop the spread. The pandemic has affected everything the organization does to help the community's most vulnerable, said CEO Megan Shreve.
"We have modified all processes in an effort to keep folks safe. From reducing census at our shelters, so we can have space for someone to quarantine in place if need be, to doing education and case management via Zoom or phones so that folks don’t have to come into our offices as often, to having our WIC card loading stations managed in a way that there is no exchange between the consumer and staff and appointments are staggered so no one has to wait," she said in an email.
SCCAP has seen huge jumps in need in two key areas: Food assistance and rent assistance.
"We have also served nearly double the number of clients needing assistance with food and 11 times the number of individuals requiring assistance with rent or utilities," Shreve said.
A large variety of organizations have joined the call to action, including local governments, community support agencies, law enforcement, school districts, nonprofit organizations and businesses. See the full list at healthyfranklincounty.org.
Amber South can be reached at email@example.com.