York County logs 13 new COVID-19 deaths as the U.S. death toll passes 800,000

Erin Bamer
York Dispatch

York County recorded 13 COVID-19 related deaths Wednesday,  as the U.S. death toll surpassed 800,000 since the start of the pandemic.

The local figure nears the record for highest daily deaths reported in York County. The previous record was 14 deaths, set on two separate occasions last  December, just as the government was rolling out an emergency-use vaccine campaign for health care workers and older Americans.

York County's WellSpan York Hospital is nearing the level of hospitalizations it saw during the height of the pandemic last year, with 173 patients as of Tuesday, according to its website. Overall, WellSpan's eight locations are reporting  more COVID-19 patients than ever before, at 442.

"Our care teams are tired," said spokesman Ryan Coyle. "They are doing all that they can, but they need everyone to take this seriously so that our hospitals are not overwhelmed more than they already are."

READ MORE: Gov. Tom Wolf calls on FEMA to help respond to COVID-19 surge

Just after Thanksgiving, WellSpan announced it was delaying all nonemergency care as a result of the surge. Spokesman Ryan Coyle confirmed Wednesday this practice is continuing and that some patients are being triaged in waiting rooms as they wait for hospital beds. 

York Hospital has been operating at over 100% capacity for several days now, Coyle said. This means that some patients are being treated in nontraditional areas such as pre-operative or post-operative rooms and emergency room bays, he said. 

The limited capacity is not just a concern for COVID-19 patients, but all patients needing emergency treatments, Coyle said. It also puts strain on hospital employees. 

National toll: The national COVID-19 death toll topped 800,000 on Tuesday, according to Johns Hopkins University data reported by The Associated Press. The U.S. has the highest reported death count of any country in the world, though it is believed the true total is even higher due to cases that were overlooked or concealed.

“I urge all Americans: do your patriotic duty to keep our country safe, to protect yourself and those around you and to honor the memory of all those we have lost,” President Joe Biden said. “Now is the time.”

More:Pennsylvania high court throws out mask mandate for schools

York County, meanwhile, passed 76,000 cases recorded throughout the pandemic, with  76,049 cases and 1,125 deaths recorded as of Wednesday.  That includes 292 new cases   logged over the last 24 hours.

Globally, reported COVID-19 deaths have surpassed 5.3 million. Though the U.S. accounts for just 4% of the world's population, it makes up about 15% of global deaths since the pandemic began in early 2020. 

York County has the highest daily cases per capita among its four neighboring counties, at 87 daily cases per 100,000 people, according to The New York Times. However, the rate of transmission is lower in York County compared with most of its neighbors. 

  • York County: 49% increase in cases over the last 14 days
  • Lancaster County: 62% increase in cases over the last 14 days
  • Adams County: 72% increase in cases over the last 14 days
  • Cumberland County: 37% increase in cases over the last 14 days
  • Dauphin County: 79% increase in cases over the last 14 days

Across all 67 counties, the state had recorded 1,857,879 cases as of Wednesday, including 34,990 deaths. In addition, there have been 5.9 million negative tests taken, with 200,482 of those coming from York County, according to the state Department of Health. 

Local hospitals had 222 patients hospitalized for COVID-19 as of Wednesday, including nine new hospitalizations since Tuesday. Of those patients, 43 adults are in the ICU, and 33 patients are on ventilators.

Cases rising in schools: COVID-19 cases have also been rising across local public schools. York County schools have recorded at least 4,163 cases this school year, including 79 new cases since Tuesday. For the past 11 days, daily cases in schools have exceeded the daily average of 53 cases. 

York County schools have already surpassed last year's total case count by more than 1,000 cases. At this rate, local schools will nearly triple last year's total by the end of this school year. 

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.