York County logs 16 COVID-19 deaths, breaking single-day record as outbreak grows

Erin Bamer
York Dispatch

York County recorded 16 new COVID-19 related deaths Wednesday, breaking the county's previous record for daily deaths from over one year ago.

The day's death toll is indicative of the growing intensity of the current COVID-19 surge, primarily driven by the highly contagious omicron variant, which has strained local hospital systems.

“Unfortunately, those who are still unvaccinated are going to get the brunt of the severe aspect of this,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease doctor, said Wednesday during a virtual fireside chat with the Center for Strategic and International Studies. "Although it is less severe on a case-by-case basis, when you quantitatively have so many people who are infected, a fraction of them, even if it’s a small fraction, are going to get seriously ill and are going to die."

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According to the state Department of Health, York County's total COVID-19 death toll is 1,267. It recorded 908 new cases of COVID-19 Wednesday, for a total of 98,796 cases since the pandemic began.

The county's previous record for most daily COVID-19 deaths was hit on Dec. 21 and Dec. 23 of 2020, with 14 deaths recorded on each day.

Some of the deaths logged Wednesday could have happened earlier this month. A similar thing happened Monday, when York County added more than 2,800 new cases within 24 hours. But according to the state's COVID-19 dashboard, many of those cases were attributed to previous days. 

According to The Associated Press, holidays and weekends created lags in COVID-19 reports for many public health departments nationwide. Most experts believe the true case counts to be even higher than the numbers being reported, incorporating asymptomatic infections and people who test themselves at home. 

York County COVID-19 data as of Jan. 12, 2022.

York County has the highest daily cases per capita among its four neighboring counties, at 252 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: 65% increase in cases over the last 14 days
  • Lancaster County: 167% increase in cases over the last 14 days
  • Adams County: 2% increase in cases over the last 14 days
  • Cumberland County: 108% increase in cases over the last 14 days
  • Dauphin County: 211% increase in cases over the last 14 days

Across Pennsylvania, the case total increased to 2,348,276 on Wednesday. The state reported the death toll has reached 38,103 since the start of the pandemic, according to the state Department of Health.

Hospitals in the county had a total of 269 patients hospitalized for COVID-19 as of Wednesday, a decrease of two since Tuesday. Of those patients, 53 adults were in the ICU and 42 were on ventilators, according to the state Department of Health. 

WellSpan York Hospital had 213 patients hospitalized with COVID-19 as of Tuesday. The rest of the WellSpan Health system also is seeing a surge in COVID-19 hospitalizations, with 528 patients across all facilities.

Meanwhile, York County's 16 public school districts recorded 214 new cases among them Wednesday, bringing the total for this school year up to 6,278 cases. 

More than 200 cases in one day would have been an unprecedented number for schools as early as last week. But the day before, York County schools saw a staggering 423 cases in a single day, more than doubling the previous record for daily cases.

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

York County schools have already more than doubled the total number of COVID-19 cases that were recorded throughout all of the previous school year. If the trend of higher cases continue, by this summer local schools could have more than four times the cases they had last year. 

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.