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St. Vincent College freshman Amari Graham (center), a Derry Area High School graduate, was one of the many SVC students that helped distribute groceries at last week's event.

Raegan Lynch, a third-grade student at Latrobe Elementary School, says hello to Les the Wildcat before heading into the classroom for the beginning of school.

Retired Pittsburgh Steelers tight end Vance McDonald was on hand at the food distribution event to help Kathye Mellon and Grant with their donation boxes.

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Coronavirus spread slows at county prison

While Westmoreland County remains in the high category for transmission of coronavirus (COVID-19) cases, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a recent increase of coronavirus cases among inmates at Westmoreland County Prison has slowed, prison officials announced Monday.

At the monthly prison board meeting, Warden Bryan Kline said just 13 positive cases of the virus remained, less than a week after the jail saw as many as 29 new infections and it has mostly been contained.

“It’s all contained to one unit and we’ve canceled that unit’s visits and other services including religious services,” Kline said.

Video conferences are being utilized for all hearings, so inmates don’t have to leave the facility and risk spreading the virus.

Kline reported that there were nearly 600 inmates housed at the jail as of Monday.

Vaccine numbers, however, at the jail are still behind with only a little more than 21% of inmates, or 128 inmates, were fully vaccinated and another 12 are partially vaccinated. The jail is hosting another vaccine clinic for inmates on Wednesday.

Additional mitigation measures remain in place at the jail, including facial coverings required for inmates and staff. In addition, new arrivals are placed in quarantine prior to joining the rest of the prison population as a way of preventing the spread of coronavirus.

In addition, prison officials are encouraging inmates to utilize the video visitation system to meet remotely with family and friends. County commissioners, who attended the meeting in person after ending quarantine for an exposure to COVID-19 through a staffer last week, agreed to continue free video visits for inmates through the rest of the year.

In other business, board members approved several personnel moves at the meeting, including hiring Jinia Kelly and Andrew Roscoe to join the next training class, and Blake Roble and Scott Pasqualino with start dates of Aug. 9. In addition, the resignations of Jacob Holden, effective July 31, and Mandi Downs, effective Aug. 4, were accepted.

Also, the board accepted the termination of an agreement with Nicholas Borgfeldt for chaplaincy services, effective Sept. 23, and will prepare and post a request for proposals for chaplain and religious support services for the jail for a one-year period.

Candidates will submit proposals that include an explanation of prior experiences and provide five references for review. In addition, recommended minimum experience should be three years of pastoral experience in an institutional setting or one year of formal chaplaincy training or bachelor’s degree in Biblical studies and pastoral counseling.

According to Kline, Borgfeldt provided religious services at the jail for about a year and a half.