York County's COVID cases increase by nearly 2K in two-day span

Tina Locurto
York Dispatch

The new year started with one new COVID-related death in York County reported in a two-day period.

This brings the new total to 1,196 since the pandemic began. Additionally, 1,974 new cases of COVID-19 were reported Friday and Saturday — bringing the new total in York County to 86,890. 

Pennsylvania passed 2 million COVID-19 cases logged since the start of the pandemic as hospitals continue to struggle with limited capacity.

York County will soon have a Federal Emergency Management Agency "strike team" to assist at WellSpan York Hospital, which had 211 COVID-19 patients on Sunday, according to WellSpan's dashboard. The additional help was supposed to be in place by Monday.

York County hospitals had 272 COVID-19 patients as of Saturday, an increase of 18 since Thursday. Of those patients, 57 adults were in the ICU and 50 were on ventilators.

Pennsylvania Department of Health COVID-19 Dashboard screenshot of York County statistics for Jan. 1, 2022.

WellSpan Health officials confirmed that York Hospital has operated  above 100% capacity for multiple days as a result of the recent COVID surge.

As a result of the high spread, hospitals are also taking steps to limit the demand. Penn State Health advised Thursday after seeing an influx of patients that emergency rooms should not be used for COVID-19 testing. 

"People seeking COVID-19 tests at the emergency department when they are not sick place a tremendous burden on the medical staff’s ability to treat patients who need emergent care,” said Dr. Peter Dillon, chief clinical officer of Penn State Health.

WellSpan health care system has delayed all nonemergency care and has held patients in nontraditional rooms, such as pre-operative or post-operative bays. 

Travel woes: Travel did not improve with the new year, either.

By early afternoon Sunday on the East Coast, more than 2,300 U.S. flights and more than 3,900 worldwide had been canceled, according to tracking service FlightAware, The Associated Press reported.

Airlines began blaming staffing shortages on increasing COVID-19 infections among crews just before Christmas. More than 12,000 U.S. flights have been canceled since Dec. 24, according to AP.

Experts continue to advise that vaccination is one of the best methods of COVID prevention. 

There are early indications that the omicron variant causes milder illness than previous versions and that the combination of the vaccine and the booster seems to protect people from its worst effects, according to The Associated Press.

By Sunday, more than 54.9 million cases and 825,800 deaths had been reported in the U.S. since the beginning of the pandemic, according to Johns Hopkins University of Medicine. Worldwide, almost 290 million cases have been reported and 5.44 million deaths confirmed.

— Reach Tina Locurto at tlocurto@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at  @tina_locurto. Reporter Erin Bamer contributed to this story. Please consider subscribing to support local journalism.