More than 400 new COVID-19 cases reported in York County on Thursday

Erin Bamer
York Dispatch

Debates over the efficacy of mask mandates continue throughout Pennsylvania, but the rate of COVID-19 spread is only increasing locally and statewide. 

The state officially passed 1.8 million cases logged since the start of the pandemic Thursday, with 1,806,671 cases, according to state Department of Health data. There have been 34,271 COVID-19 related deaths and 5.9 million negative tests taken in the same period. 

York County has reached 73,728 cases and 1,097 deaths since the start of the pandemic. That includes 446 additional cases and two new deaths recorded Thursday. New cases in York County have spiked since Thanksgiving; so far the daily rate of new deaths has remained steady. 

York County COVID data for Thursday, Dec. 10

York County had 196 patients hospitalized for COVID-19 as of Thursday, 10 more than were reported Wednesday. That includes 41 adult patients in the ICU and 31 patients on ventilators, according to state data. 

Meanwhile, the state Supreme Court just started hearing its first arguments in a lawsuit challenging acting Health Secretary Alison Beam's authority to enact a statewide mask order for schools on Wednesday. It is unclear when the court will make its decision, but the West York Area School District has already made masks optional, making it the first local district to publicly defy the order. 

More:West York schools defy Wolf's mandate, make masks optional

If the court upholds the order, the mandate is still expected to lift by Jan. 17, according to an earlier announcement by Gov. Tom Wolf. Several York County school districts plan to lift their mask requirements as soon as the state does. 

Public schools in York County reached at least 3,828 cases on Thursday, including 55 new cases recorded over the previous 24 hours. It's the seventh day in a row that new cases in schools have been above the daily average.

Local schools have already recorded more than 300 COVID-19 cases this week alone, which is higher than the weekly average for this school year. 

York County schools have topped the previous school year's total case count and at this rate will more than double last year's total by the summer. In the 2020-21 school year, county schools recorded about 2,800 cases.

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