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COVID-19 cases surge as Thanksgiving holiday approaches

With nearly all Americans eligible for the vaccine, local health officials say it's more important than ever to get the shot.

PENNSYLVANIA, USA — There was a steady stream of people in and out of DePietro's Pharmacy in Dunmore on Monday, as many looked to get more protection against the coronavirus in time for the holidays.

"We've definitely seen an uptick in the amount of vaccines that we've given daily. A lot of people are getting a little scared definitely want to get that extra dose before going home and seeing family and friends," said J.J. Gaughan, a pharmacist at DiPietro's pharmacy.

Jackson Conway is one of them. He's home from college visiting for Thanksgiving and got his COVID-19 booster shot.

"I'm seeing a bunch of families I haven't seen. You know we all have our own different lives, so we're all coming from different places, so it's just nice to stay safe," said Conway.

Others, like teacher Jessica Ogonosky of Dunmore, got her booster too, not only for the holidays but to protect herself from her students.

"A lot of our students are out, either quarantined or with COVID. So I think just as a precaution, and as a good role model for our students, it's a good idea to get it," said Ogonosky.

But even with people getting vaccinated daily, Dr. James Cruse, chief medical officer at Wayne Memorial Community Health Center, says it's not enough.

"COVID is bad; it's definitely not over. We may actually have the worst of the pandemic, maybe in front of us. So it's not like, 'Oh, this is over. I didn't have to get vaccinated.' I think it's more important than ever to get vaccinated now," said Dr. Cruse.

Dr. Cruse says right now he's seeing a major surge in cases and deaths in unvaccinated people. He's encouraging people to get vaccinated this winter.

"We're going into the holiday season. We're going into cold weather where more people are inside, and we have 409 cases per 100,000 per week. This time last year or at the end of October last year, we were running about 40 cases for 100,000 per week. So were about 10 times where we were last year going into the winter season," said Dr. Cruse.

Booster shot or not, local health officials say some protection is better than nothing at all.

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