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County to fund group’s COVID education efforts

Lycoming County commissioners voted to approve $25,000 for the Let’s End COVID group to further educate the community about coronavirus and the need for being vaccinated.

The vote did not come until after much discussion and members of the group talking to commissioners about the education efforts.

Commissioners agreed to initially fund the group $25,000 with the intent to provide another money stream later.

Let’s End COVID had requested $50,000 for its educational campaign.

Much of the discussion during the meeting revolved around funding, which is to be reimbursed to the county by the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency.

“We believe this is a serious issue,” Commissioner Tony Mussare said. “We were willing to provide $50,000 even before the reimbursement was known.”

Mussare and Commissioners Rick Mirabito and Scott Metzger each voted in favor of the $25,000 funding amount.

However, Mirabito noted that might be insufficient for Let’s End COVID to successfully proceed with its campaign.

“This gets us through the first month,” Metzger added.

He noted that many COVID infection cases are from the city.

“What are they bringing to the table?” he asked. “They need to be in the conversation with us.”

It was noted that city may also be funding the group’s efforts.

Joe Smith, a co-organizer of the group, said all efforts will be made to track results of the educational campaign.

“We hope you give us your support,” he told the commissioners.

Another group member, Barbara Hemmendinger, said 30.6 percent of the county is fully vaccinated, including about 72 percent of people 65 or older.

However, she noted that many young people remain unvaccinated.

In addition, more women than men are receiving vaccines in the county.

“Seventy percent of the Israeli population is fully vaccinated,” she added.

John Shireman, of Jersey Shore, said coronavirus continues to be an issue in the area.

“I think there is a great need for an educational program in Lycoming County,” he said.

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