Gov. Tom Wolf addresses members of the media during a December news conference.

One day after they became eligible to sign up for a COVID-19 vaccine, Gov. Tom Wolf saluted the commonwealth’s 180,000 grocery store workers Tuesday, saying that all Pennsylvanians owed them “a debt of gratitude.”

At Weis Markets in the Cumberland County town of Enola, Wolf said, “This is a huge step forward in our vaccine rollout. ... Our communities will be safer when the people who work most closely with the public are safer. After everything our grocery workers have done to take care of us over the past year, it’s time for us to take care of them.”

Phase 1B of Pennsylvania’s vaccination plan started Monday, and, along with grocery store workers, U.S. Postal Service employees and workers in such areas as manufacturing, education and public transit are eligible. Pennsylvanians in the 1C category will be eligible for appointments next week, and all Pennsylvania adults will be allowed to sign up April 19.

Shortly before Wolf appeared at the grocery store, the Pennsylvania Department of Health announced that there were 4,255 additional positive cases of COVID-19 across the state, bringing the total over the last 13 months to 1,049,655. There were also 37 additional deaths reported, for a total of 25,237.

One of those deaths was in Fayette County, which has recorded 291 deaths as a result of COVID-19. Allegheny County also has had two additional deaths, with its cumulative total now at 1,824. There were also two additional deaths in Westmoreland County, for a total of 709. No new deaths were reported in either Washington or Greene counties.

In the past 24 hours, Allegheny County added 533 new cases, for a total of 88,155. Washington County recorded 112 new cases for a total of 15,502 since the start of the pandemic. Greene County added 29 more, bringing its total to 2,942, and Fayette County added 65 additional cases. The total in Fayette now stands at 11,461. There were 164 new cases in Westmoreland County, bringing its cumulative total to 29,886.

Staff Writer

Brad Hundt came to the Observer-Reporter in 1998 after stints at newspapers in Georgia and Michigan. He serves as editorial page editor, and has covered the arts and entertainment and worked as a municipal beat reporter.

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