JOHNSTOWN, Pa. – Dr. Denise Johnson, acting state secretary of health and the commonwealth’s physician general, stopped in Cambria County on Monday to wish the employees of the local state Department of Health a happy Public Health Thank You Day.
“Our public health workers are saving lives every day,” she said. The national celebration is marked on the first Monday before Thanksgiving every year.
Johnson said she wanted to get to the western part of the state and express her appreciation to the employees in the office on Donald Lane in Richland Township.
During the visit, the health secretary spent time chatting with the group before moving on to her next appointment.
She said she also planned to visit an office in Cumberland County and that other leaders from the state health department were visiting locations across the commonwealth that day.
Those drop-ins were in conjunction with an email blast expressing thanks.
“It’s nice to be appreciated and have a visit from the acting secretary,” Daniel Bott said.
The clerical assistant was one of the several employees in Johnstown with whom Johnson met.
Bott described Johnson as a nice and “very friendly” individual, adding that it was a cool opportunity to chat with her.
In addition to the meet-and-greet, Johnson was also there to pass on reminders of the importance of vaccines during the winter season.
She said with the increased time spent indoors and holiday gatherings approaching to remember that respiratory viruses are circulating.
Johnson noted that COVID-19 is still a threat to public health and that respiratory syncytial virus, better known as RSV, and the flu are on the rise.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Cambria, Somerset and the surrounding counties have low transmission rates for the novel coronavirus.
There were 82 cases reported in Cambria County and 59 in Somerset County as of Nov. 16, and Mercer County is the only one in Pennsylvania with a high transmission rate, the data show.
As for the flu, the CDC lists the state as experiencing moderate activity.
Across the country, Influenza A has been the most prominent this year and Influenza B is nearly non-existent.
Johnson said it’s important to get the flu vaccine as well as the COVID-19 bivalent booster, and people can get both at the same time.
“You certainly need both because COVID and the flu are different viruses,” she said.
The health leader also pointed out the importance of “Cover, Clean and Contain.”
That applies to covering a cough, washing hands frequently and a person staying home if they’re experiencing cold, flu or COVID-19 symptoms.
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