COVID-19

It is a timely announcement.

The White Township Walmart at 3100 Oakland Ave. said it plans to administer COVID-19 vaccines Thursday and Saturday.

A spokesman for Walmart said vaccines will be issued to residents in the state’s Phase 1A and Phase 1B categories.

That includes grocery store employees; food/agriculture workers; people in congregate settings not otherwise specified as long-term care facilities, and persons receiving home and community-based services; U.S. Postal Service employees; manufacturing workers; clergy and other essential support for houses of worship; and education and public transit workers.

The Walmart spokesman said Tuesday that there were available slots, and that eligible patients can make an appointment by calling (800) 753-8827 and pressing Option 1.

The Walmart announcement coincided with the latest COVID-19 update from Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

An IUP spokeswoman said Tuesday that it had received notice that eight students tested positive for COVID-19 between Friday and Monday.

IUP Executive Director of Media Relations Michelle Fryling said one of the students reported as testing positive lives on campus, while seven live in off-campus housing in Indiana County.

The latest testing period also comes two weeks after authorities had to deal with a weekend of unsanctioned IUPatty’s events in and around Indiana and White Township.

But it’s not known if that’s a factor in the latest count, or in an uptick in cases indicated in a testing of Indiana’s sanitary sewage system.

“COVID-19 RNA levels at our Wastewater Treatment Plant have increased since last week’s sample testing,” the borough posted on its website on April 1. “This unfortunately ends our four-week streak of decreasing levels.”

Fryling said the state Department of Health, through its contact tracing work, may have a better answer to that question.

State health officials could not be reached Tuesday night.

For the week ending April 2, however, the Department of Health had Indiana among 17 counties where the spread of the virus is in the moderate level of transmission, along locally with Cambria and Jefferson.

Armstrong, Clearfield and Westmoreland counties all are among 45 counties listed as being in the substantial level of community transmission:

Speaking of vaccinations, Fryling said IUP’s Health Services is authorized to provide vaccines, “and we are continuing to try and get vaccines, but we do not have a supply at this time. We are referring employees to their community suppliers, including (Indiana Regional Medical Center) and its ongoing vaccination clinics.”

IRMC announced on its website that it is now administering vaccines, by appointment only, for all of Phase1A, including first responders, grocery store workers, and food and agriculture workers, and Phase 1B.

The White Township hospital plans to expand to Phase 1C on April 12 and to everyone ages 16 and over on April 19.

IRMC said it offers the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, which is a two-dose vaccine.

“Be sure that you are scheduling for the first dose if you have not received a vaccine yet,” the hospital advised. “You may also schedule for your second dose, which needs to be approximately 28 days later.”

Fryling said none of the State System universities — including IUP — have the legal authority to require vaccinations for employees or for students.

“IUP has sent messaging to employees, and is sending messaging to students, to let them know of the governor’s announcement about the change in who can get vaccinated, starting on April 19,” Fryling said.

“We are referring them to their own health provider or physician for advice on this medical issue.”

This article was updated at 8:45 a.m. Wednesday to correct to the available vaccination dates to Thursday and Saturday.