York County reports 12 new COVID deaths as case counts begin to slow

Erin Bamer
York Dispatch

York County passed 1,300 COVID-19 deaths since the start of the pandemic Thursday, and local officials fear more deaths may be on the way.

The pace of new cases, however, has slowed this week — raising a glimmer of hope that the region may be near the crest of the omicron-driven surge.

 City of York Medical Director Dr. Matt Howie speaks at the York County Administrative Center in York City, Friday, Sept. 4, 2020. The recent uptick in positive COVID-19 testing, specifically at York County Prison, was addressed. Dawn J. Sagert photo

York City Medical Director Dr. Matthew Howie said it's too difficult to predict whether new cases will continue to drop locally. He said while the county's case rate is going in the right direction, the death rate may not be headed the same way. 

"I am concerned we may not have hit the peak in deaths," he said.

According to state data, York County saw 816 new cases and 12 additional deaths over the last 24 hours. That brings its total to 106,721 cases and 1,302 COVID-19 related deaths since the start of the pandemic.

Only about 53% of York County residents are fully vaccinated, according to the state Department of Health. That figure does not include residents who have received additional doses.

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On Wednesday, an Associated Press report revealed that a larger wave of omicron-related deaths may hit the U.S. in the coming weeks. The latest infection models forecast between 50,000 and 300,000 more deaths nationwide through mid-March. 

Despite this, COVID-19 hospitalization rates in York County have also begun to drop. Hospitals in York County had a total of 260 patients hospitalized for COVID-19 as of Thursday. Of those patients, 52 adults were in the ICU and 47 were on ventilators, according to the state Department of Health. 

WellSpan York Hospital had 202 patients hospitalized with COVID-19 as of Wednesday. The rest of the WellSpan Health system had 469 COVID-19 patients across all facilities, and that number has been steadily dropping since peaking at more than 500 patients earlier this month. 

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 on par with its immediate neighbors:

  • York County: 14% increase in cases over the last 14 days
  • Lancaster County: 7% decrease in cases over the last 14 days
  • Adams County: 12% increase in cases over the last 14 days
  • Cumberland County: 41% increase in cases over the last 14 days
  • Dauphin County: 3% increase in cases over the last 14 days
  • Philadelphia: 27% decrease in cases over the last 14 days
  • New York City: 42% decrease in cases over the last 14 days

Across Pennsylvania, the case total increased to 2,523,589 and 39,093 deaths since the start of the pandemic, according to the state Department of Health.

Schools: Meanwhile, York County's 16 public school districts logged 153 new COVID-19 cases Thursday, bringing the total for the 2021-2022 school year to 7,628. 

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