Officials urge caution even as York County's COVID-19 rates drop

Erin Bamer
York Dispatch

Despite the dramatic decline in COVID-19 cases across York County, officials say the region isn't out of the woods yet.

York City Medical Director Dr. Matthew Howie said that while the trends are promising, residents should not stop following safety measures like wearing masks and getting vaccinated.

"We must also remember that we are still solidly in winter respiratory virus season where the environment is very favorable for spread," he said. 

Howie pointed to England, which saw its omicron wave peak and taper off slightly earlier than the U.S. When cases dropped off there, officials were quick to lift COVID-19 restrictions. As a result, he said, the level of infections flattened rather than continuing to fall. 

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Since the start of the pandemic, York County has recorded 115,764 COVID-19 cases and 1,402 deaths. The county logged one new death Tuesday, and actually saw its total cases drop by 54.

The decrease was due to a code error that duplicated some of Monday's case numbers on the state Department of Health's dashboard, officials confirmed. On the same dashboard, Pennsylvania's total number of cases also dropped by about 4,000. So far,  the state has recorded 2,703,408 total COVID-19 cases and 41,781 deaths. 

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New cases have been steadily dropping across York County for the past few weeks, coming off a massive spike in cases driven by the omicron variant. During omicron's peak, the county normally logged more than 1,000 cases per day. 

While the county's current rate of new cases is nowhere near that level, York County still continues to see about 200 new cases on a typical day. This is similar to what the county was seeing in October, during a wave of cases linked to the delta variant. 

Only about 54% of York County residents are fully vaccinated, according to the state. That figure is 75% statewide.

As with cases, hospitalizations have also been steadily declining across York County. According to the state Department of Health, county hospitals had a  total of 117 COVID-19 patients as of Tuesday, down five from Monday. Of those patients, 26 adults were in the ICU, and 22 were on ventilators.

As of Sunday, WellSpan Health had 309 COVID-19 patients across all facilities, while York Hospital had 122 of those patients. The health system has seen COVID-19 hospitalizations drop dramatically over the last two weeks after peaking at more than 500 patients in mid-January.

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York County has the highest daily cases per capita among its neighboring counties, with 61 daily cases per 100,000 people, according to The New York Times. 

However, York County is also seeing a decreasing rate of new cases, at a level slightly above its immediate neighbors.

  • York County: 62% decrease in cases over the last 14 days
  • Lancaster County: 48% decrease in cases over the last 14 days
  • Adams County: 59% decrease in cases over the last 14 days
  • Cumberland County: 61% decrease in cases over the last 14 days
  • Dauphin County: 56% decrease in cases over the last 14 days
  • Philadelphia: 63% decrease in cases over the last 14 days
  • New York City: 77% decrease in cases over the last 14 days

Schools:  York County's 16 public school districts added 89 new cases Tuesday, bringing the total for the 2021-2022 school year to 9,307. 

Local districts are finally seeing daily cases level out to match numbers they were seeing in the fall. However, it's worth noting that the COVID-19 transmissions schools were seeing in the fall were still higher than anything districts saw last school year. 

Schools have already more than tripled the total number of cases recorded throughout all of the previous school year. With the potential for new variants on the horizon, it is impossible to say how many cases York County schools will log by the end of the school 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.