Professional sports in Pittsburgh teamed up with health officials on Friday to promote COVID-19 vaccines and identified them as the only way out of the pandemic.
Pirates, Steelers and Penguins also joined Democrat US Senator Bob Casey in persuading people who are low in vaccines and are reluctant to increase the dose.
“We can stop this,” said Donald M. Yealy, a UPMC doctor who also attended the virtual panel discussion.
Acting Health Secretary Alison Beam said 70% of Pennsylvania adults must be vaccinated against the virus before it’s safe enough to lift the face mask mandate.
As of Friday, the vaccination rate for adults was 43.4%.
“Now we have a challenge ahead of us,” said Beam.
Marcy McGovern, who represented the pirates, said people shed tears after being vaccinated at mass hospitals in PNC Park after having “life changing experiences” and knowing they could hug their grandchildren again.
Meanwhile, Yealy said COVID-19 pneumonia is safely preventable with a vaccine.
“The virus can only continue if it has a safe haven,” Yealy said. “I don’t want you to have trouble breathing.”
Casey said the nation still has a long way to go to get to the other side of the pandemic.
He said the vaccines had undergone clinical trials and would “continue to be subject to safety surveillance”.
The teams said they are now receiving calls from promoters wanting to book concerts at their stadiums.
McGovern said the pirates wanted to return to live concerts in the fall or spring of 2022.
The state went on Friday to see new virus cases and deaths related to the disease.
The state health ministry announced 2,986 new virus cases, bringing the total to 1,169,678 since March 2020.
There have been 47 new statewide COVID-19 deaths, including one in Washington County.
Washington County reported 40 new virus cases, bringing the total to 17,162. In Greene County, eight new cases were added to the total of 3,180. Fayette County reported 31 new cases, bringing the total to 12,653.