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COVID-19 continues its steady march across York County amid vaccine push

Erin Bamer
York Dispatch

While local schools prepare to lift their mask requirements, COVID-19 continues to spread at a steady pace throughout York County and in school buildings. 

In all, York County has recorded 67,519 cases and 1,042 deaths since the start of the pandemic, including 281 new cases and four deaths recorded since Wednesday.  

According to state Department of Health data, the county had 118 patients hospitalized for COVID-19 as of Thursday, including 29 adult patients in the ICU and 17 patients on ventilators. 

Across all 67 counties, the state has seen 1,666,724 cases and 32,729 deaths. There have been more than 5.8 million negative COVID-19 tests throughout Pennsylvania, including 196,861 in York County.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert, told attendees of a Reuters summit that the disease could become an endemic illness — much like seasonal flu — by next year if enough people are vaccinated.

“I hope we do, and it might even be likely, if we implement a good vaccination of the unvaccinated and a really good uptake of boosting those who are fully vaccinated," he said.

More:Gov. Tom Wolf's mask mandate must expire Dec. 4, judge rules amid school debate

More:York County districts pass last year's COVID-19 total less than halfway through school year

As of Thursday, local public schools had recorded 3,043 cases during the 2021-22 school year, including 38 new cases recorded since Wednesday. York County schools have already broken last school year's total case count and at this rate will more than double last year's total by summer. 

In the 2020-21 school year, York County districts recorded at least 2,861 cases, though the true total was likely over 3,000 due to recordkeeping disparities that still exist this year. 

Despite the continued spread, a Pennsylvania judge ruled this week that the statewide mask order in place for schools and child care facilities must expire Dec. 4, although that is unlikely to be the final legal development in the case. Gov. Tom Wolf has also announced that he plans to lift the order Jan. 17. 

Following these announcements, multiple York County school boards have revised their health and safety plan to make masks optional immediately once the state order is lifted, whether that be by the judge's order or the state removing it. 

More:More than 2,800 COVID-19 cases recorded at York County schools during school year

More:COVID-19 reporting varies widely among York County schools

No two school districts are tracking COVID-19 cases in the same way. 

Five districts — Dallastown, Hanover, Northeastern, Southern and West Shore — are not posting their total cases for the school year. Instead, some of them are only publishing cases recorded during the previous 14 days, while others are only posting active cases. 

Among other districts, COVID-19 tracking varies. Some districts don't include cases that were contracted while the students or staff were off district property. Some combine probable and confirmed cases, while others keep the two separate. 

It's impossible to know the exact number of COVID-19 cases linked to every school district in the county. But The York Dispatch will continue to keep track of the number of cases in each district to the best of our knowledge.

You can keep track of your district's recorded cases for the 2021-2022 school year here. We will continue to update on a daily basis as numbers change.