York County breaks record for daily COVID-19 deaths

Digital billboards in downtown York City encourage residents to wear a mask to combat the spread of COVID-19.

York County recorded 11 deaths linked to COVID-19 as of noon Wednesday, a record-breaking increase that brings the county's death toll to 361, according to the state Department of Health.

The county's previous record of 10 deaths was set on Dec. 15, then matched on Saturday. At least 73 of the county's total COVID-19 related deaths were recorded in the last 14 days. Countywide, there have been more than 80 deaths per 100,000 people, according to the state's COVID-19 dashboard. 

The county's case total on Wednesday also hit 20,897, an increase of 565 cases over the day prior. At least 6,468 of those cases were recorded in the last 14 days. This equates to more than 4,661 cases per 100,000 people. 

York County has the eighth highest number of recorded COVID-19 cases in the state and the 13th highest number of deaths related to the disease. 

Statewide, there were 9,605 new cases, bringing the case total to 581,156. About 62% of patients have recovered. There were also 230 additional virus-related deaths. The death toll now stands at 14,442.

More:COVID-19 kills 11 more in York County, smashes record

There have been 3,181,266 patients in the state who have tested negative for COVID-19, 105,798 of whom reside in York County.

About one-third of hospitals in south-central Pennsylvania anticipate staffing shortages within the next week, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Health. However, hospitals in the region are also reporting a slight decline in COVID-19 admissions, which are down about 1%. There are 75 adult ICU beds available in York County, which equates to about 13% of the total.

Statewide, there are 6,142 COVID-19 patients hospitalized, with 1,263 patients in ICU. 

WellSpan Health's York Hospital saw a spike in COVID-19 admissions in early November, which has since leveled off. There had been 171 admissions  related to COVID-19 as of Tuesday.

WellSpan spokesperson Ryan Coyle said the health system does not release the number of their available beds but said they are capable of moving patients across its seven hospitals in south-central Pennsylvania if one facility has reached maximum capacity. 

"We'll move people around as needed," Coyle said. 

Coyle said officials are concerned that the holiday season will increase pressure on hospitals, and WellSpan is taking measures to accommodate staffing shortages, such as recruiting temporary staff. He said they are also preparing to staff clinics that provide COVID-19 vaccinations.  

As of Wednesday, about 18.2 million cases of COVID-19 had been confirmed in the U.S., according to Johns Hopkins University. There were more than 323,000 deaths linked to the disease.

Worldwide, there had been about 78.2 million confirmed cases and more than 1.7 million deaths.