Wolf, task force urge lawmakers to promote COVID-19 vaccines

HARRISBURG, Pa. — Gov. Tom Wolf and Pennsylvania’s coronavirus task force are asking state lawmakers to urge their constituents to get vaccinated, citing the highly contagious delta variant.

Wolf and the task force, which includes Democratic and Republican appointees from the House and Senate, asked members of the General Assembly to “use every tool at your disposal, starting now,” to promote the COVID-19 vaccines on social media, in printed materials and at local events.

“We are at a pivotal moment in this pandemic — a moment that has already passed in states like Arkansas, Missouri and Louisiana,” said the letter, released Friday.

[Here is how to stay informed about coronavirus updates from WPXI]

New COVID-19 cases have more than tripled over the past two weeks, to an average of about 725 per day, according to Johns Hopkins University Center for Systems Science and Engineering. Hospitalizations have started to rise again, too, increasing by more than a third over the past 10 days, according to state data.

New cases and hospitalizations are still a fraction of what they were at the height of the pandemic last winter.

The pace of vaccinations, meanwhile, has slowed dramatically to about 12,500 people per day. Nearly 63% of Pennsylvania adults are fully vaccinated, according to federal data.

The letter from Wolf and the task force warned that a resurgent virus could wreak havoc on nursing homes, threaten the state’s work force and burden hospitals. It urged lawmakers to “talk about our shared goals: protecting ourselves and those we love. Please do this with care, with understanding, and with urgency.”

The state Department of Health is also planning a text messaging campaign to encourage more than 250,000 people who skipped their second shot of the two-dose COVID-19 vaccine to follow through and get it. The department said the messages will go out early next week.