York County breaks single-day record for COVID-19 deaths

Harper Ho
York Dispatch
A woman waits in line for a train at the 30th Street Station ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday, Friday, Nov. 20, 2020, in Philadelphia. As governors and mayors grapple with an out-of-control pandemic, they are ratcheting up mask mandates and imposing restrictions on small indoor gatherings, which have been blamed for accelerating the spread of the coronavirus. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

York County on Tuesday saw its deadliest day of the pandemic as the state Health Department reported eight new deaths attributed to COVID-19.

This is the highest number of COVID-19 related deaths over a one-day period reported in York County since the outbreak began, surpassing the previous high of seven deaths on one day in April. The new death count shows that York County continues to break its record even eight months into the pandemic. 

As of Tuesday, the death toll in York stood at 253 since the start of the outbreak.

None of the deaths reported Tuesday in the county stemmed from long-term care facilities, said state Department of Health spokesperson Nate Wardle.

He said that of Tuesday's 180 new deaths linked to COVID-19 statewide, 30 could be traced to long-term care facilities. The majority of the increases are from community spread, Wardle said.

"These deaths represent deaths largely over the last several days, and show the seriousness of COVID-19 in Pennsylvania," Wardle said of the statewide total. "Not all deaths reported today occurred over the past few days; some are spread out several days ago. We think that the holiday and some backlogs in several areas helped contribute to this."

As of Tuesday, cases per 100,000 people in York County averaged 644 over the past 14 days, the most common metric used to compare case increases among municipalities. That number was the third-highest on record. The two previous records came on Sunday and Monday, when there was an average of 654 and 667 cases, respectively.

York County's infection rate was 12.2%, a record-breaking number that positions it above the state's 11.7% average. That ranks 35th among the state's 67 counties. 

There were 161 patients with COVID-19 at WellSpan York Hospital, which has a capacity of about 600 beds, said WellSpan spokesperson Ryan Coyle.

"To put that into perspective, we're approaching one out of every three patients essentially with COVID-19 within the hospital. So we have seen a very steep increase in hospitalization," said Coyle. "Not everyone needs ICU, intensive care unit care, for COVID-19, but the sheer volume of an increase in patients is ... concerning to us."

The moving average of the number of COVID-19 patients hospitalized as well as on ventilators in the past 14 days is trending upward, according to the state's graphs. 

York City officials shuttered city offices Monday in response to the rising number of cases.