York County schools log more than 400 COVID-19 cases Tuesday, smashing previous record

Erin Bamer
York Dispatch

York County schools smashed their previous record for daily COVID-19 cases Tuesday, logging more than 400 new cases in just 24 hours. 

The county's 16 public school districts recorded 423 new cases among them, more than double the last record for daily cases, which was just hit Monday with 188 cases. This brings the total cases logged this school year to 6,064. 

To compare, earlier this school year, local districts never even came close to recording 400 cases within an entire week. Typically, weekly cases hovered around 250. 

Tuesday's spike likely incorporated cases that were added to York County's total cases Monday, which was another record high of 2,888 cases. It's also indicative of the high transmissibility of the omicron variant, which medical experts believe to have a higher impact on children than previous strains, though the severity of the infections does not appear to be as high. 

York City Medical Director Dr. Matthew Howie warned that cases would likely continue to rise amid the current surge. 

"We have not crested yet," Howie said. "Mitigation is still critically important."

More:COVID-19 surge spurs differing hospitalization rates among children

Meanwhile, York County recorded 697 new cases of COVID-19 Tuesday, for a total of 97,888 cases since the pandemic began, according to the state Department of Health. Five new deaths were also recorded Tuesday, bringing the total toll to 1,251.

York County has the highest daily cases per capita among its four neighboring counties, at 259 daily cases per 100,000 people, according to The New York Times. However, the rate of COVID-19 spread in York County is lower than in most of its neighbors:

  • York County: 71% increase in cases over the last 14 days
  • Lancaster County: 177% increase in cases over the last 14 days
  • Adams County: 4% increase in cases over the last 14 days
  • Cumberland County: 123% increase in cases over the last 14 days
  • Dauphin County: 269% increase in cases over the last 14 days

Across Pennsylvania, the case total increased to 2,316,537 on Tuesday. The state reported the death toll has reached 37,899 since the start of the pandemic, according to the state Department of Health.

More:Strike team's stint in York could be extended amid growing COVID-19 outbreak

York County COVID-19 data as of Jan. 11, 2022.

Hospitals in the county had a total of 271 patients hospitalized for COVID-19 as of Tuesday, an increase of 12 since Monday. Of those patients, 50 adults were in the ICU and 38 were on ventilators, according to the state Department of Health. 

WellSpan York Hospital had 213 patients hospitalized with COVID-19 as of Monday. The rest of the WellSpan Health system also is seeing a surge in COVID-19 hospitalizations, with 528 patients across all facilities, more than at any other time in the pandemic. 

York Hospital is currently receiving support in the form of a 23-person federal strike team, which arrived last week to aid the hospital for 30 days. That schedule could be extended if demand for care continues to rise. 

With few exceptions, there have been minimal new mitigation efforts from most local school districts. York Suburban just approved a new policy to require masks until York County's seven-day rolling average of cases drops below 400 for one full week. 

Aside from York Suburban, just one district, York City, has implemented universal masking for all schools, and it has been in place all year. Another district, West Shore, requires masking for individual schools based on the number of cases reported within 14 days.

So far, no districts in the county have announced a return to remote learning due to COVID-19. 

According to The Associated Press, Gov. Tom Wolf also does not plan to issue any new shutdowns in response to the surge. During a regularly scheduled appearance in KDKA-AM radio in Pittsburgh, Wolf reiterated that the vaccine is his administration's strategy for fighting the spread of COVID-19.

“The vaccine is our strategy, and people need to get the vaccine," Wolf said.

At the start of the pandemic in spring 2020, Wolf ordered schools to shut down for in-person instruction, issued a broad stay-at-home order, closed businesses deemed “non-life-sustaining” and ordered masks to be worn indoors and in public where social-distancing was impossible.

However, he has since seen that authority crimped amid pushback from Republican lawmakers.

Voters handed more authority over emergency disaster declarations to lawmakers, and the state Supreme Court ended Wolf's masking order in schools and child care centers, saying it lacked legal justification after the Republican-controlled Legislature voted in June to terminate Wolf’s COVID-19 emergency disaster declaration.

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.