Three new COVID-19 deaths reported amid growing concern for flu season

Tina Locurto
York Dispatch

There were three new COVID-19 related deaths reported Tuesday in York County, bringing the overall total to 913 since the pandemic started.

The rise in deaths coincides with the start of October — the start of the flu season. Health officials urge residents to get their flu vaccine as early as possible, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.

“Every flu season is different, and this flu season leaves a lot of unknowns,” said acting Pennsylvania Physician General Dr. Denise Johnson. “One thing we do know is the flu is serious and can be deadly, which is why it is extremely important that Pennsylvanians are receiving their flu vaccine now."

Health officials said that since COVID-19 has similar symptoms to influenza, having a flu shot takes away the guesswork involved when diagnosing a patient. 

Susan Klingaman, a nurse with Penn State Health Medical Group, prepares a Moderna vaccine at the York County Food Bank on Monday, May 3, 2021. Tina Locurto photo.

Additionally, it is possible to get the flu and COVID-19 at the same time, according to the state health department. 

The flu vaccine also reduces the risk of being hospitalized.

On Tuesday, York County's hospitals saw a rolling average of 125 hospitalizations for COVID-19 over the past 14 days. For comparison, two weeks ago, the county had an average of 94 hospitalizations.

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Additionally, the state Department of Health reported 169 new cases of COVID-19 in York County during the same period, for a total of 57,361 cases.

Case counts and hospitalizations have been on the rise since the outbreak of the delta variant. 

Across all 67 counties as of Tuesday, the state Department of Health had reported 1,206,225 confirmed cases and 29,611 deaths since the pandemic began.

Additionally, 5,508,538 patients have tested negative for COVID-19 — including 188,746 in York County.

Meanwhile, York County schools surpassed 1,400 COVID-19 cases for the 2021-22 school year. That puts them more than halfway toward surpassing last year's total case count less than two months since classes resumed.

As of Tuesday, the total stood at 1,438 COVID-19 cases, counting 55 additional cases recorded over the last 24 hours. However, the true total number of cases is likely much higher due to reporting disparities between districts.

READ MORE: More Pa. children are being hospitalized for COVID-19 than ever. But why?

In the 2020-21 school year, York County districts recorded at least 2,861 cases, though the true total was likely over 3,000 because of the same disparities.

At this rate, local schools are on track to surpass last year's total before the end of the first semester.