COVID-19 cases fall significantly in York County schools

Erin Bamer
York Dispatch

Local schools saw a major drop-off of new COVID-19 cases over the past two days, following a weekslong trend of declining cases across the rest of the county. 

York County logged 161 new COVID-19 cases and no new deaths Thursday, according to the state Department of Health. Since the start of the pandemic, the county has recorded 116,070 cases and 1,403 total deaths. 

York County's 16 public school districts added just 34 new cases Thursday, bringing the total for the 2021-2022 school year to 9,367. On Wednesday, districts recorded just 26 new cases.

That's a massive drop from the transmission rates schools were experiencing just last week, when local schools routinely logged over 200 cases in a single day. The recent numbers are even lower than what schools were seeing during the wave of delta variant infections in the fall. 

READ MORE: Ivermectin for all? Local GOP lawmaker's bill would allow for use of drug for COVID

More:York County college student dies after falling off cliff in Montour County

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.

Even throughout the omicron surge, when local school districts at one point logged over 400 cases in a single day, most districts kept masks optional. Decisions on mask policies have varied nationwide, but now that the wave of infections is receding, more districts are considering lifting restrictions, The Associated Press reported

The long-term effects of the pandemic and the ensuing debates over mask policies continue to have an effect on educators and district administrators, however. 

“That’s why superintendents are leaving the profession in numbers, because they’re caught in the middle. They’re damned if they do, they’re damned if they don’t,” Dan Domenech, executive director of the American Association of School Administrators, told the AP.

York County schools have 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 2021-22 school year.

As with cases, hospitalizations have been steadily declining across York County. According to the state Department of Health, county hospitals had a total of 108 COVID-19 patients as of Thursday, down 16 from Wednesday. Of those patients, 22 adults were in the ICU, and 22 were on ventilators.

As of Wednesday, WellSpan Health had 279 COVID-19 patients across all facilities; its York Hospital had 128 of those patients. The health system has seen COVID-19 hospitalizations drop dramatically over the last few weeks after peaking at more than 500 patients in mid-January.

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

York County has the highest daily cases per capita among its neighboring counties, with 57 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 on par with its immediate neighbors.

  • York County: 62% decrease in cases over the last 14 days
  • Lancaster County: 44% decrease in cases over the last 14 days
  • Adams County: 62% decrease in cases over the last 14 days
  • Cumberland County: 63% decrease in cases over the last 14 days
  • Dauphin County: 60% decrease in cases over the last 14 days
  • Philadelphia: 55% decrease in cases over the last 14 days
  • New York City: 75% decrease in cases over the last 14 days

Across Pennsylvania, the state has recorded 2,713,459 COVID-19 cases and 42,035 total deaths throughout the pandemic, according to the state Department of Health. 

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.