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York County has one new coronavirus-related death, hospitals to resume elective surgeries

Logan Hullinger
York Dispatch

York County saw its ninth death linked to the coronavirus, while confirmed cases in the county reached 606, the state Department of Health reported Monday.

York County Coroner Pam Gay said she was notified of a death at WellSpan York Hospital on Sunday. Only six of the county's deaths have been reported to her since the outbreak began.

“COVID-19 is not gone yet,” Health Secretary Rachel Levine said. “We’re going to need to be really careful about the spread. We still want people to wear masks, and we still want people to practice as much social distancing as we can.”

Coronavirus cases in the county grew by 13 over the day prior, breaking 600 cases total since the beginning of the outbreak. Cases in the state increased by 885, bringing the total to 42,050, according to a Monday news release.

Statewide the death toll hit 1,597, up 47 since Sunday.

Both county and state death tolls remain lower than was reported in the middle of last week, when the state abruptly removed a significant number of "probable" virus-related deaths that required further investigation.

With Monday's statewide day-to-day increase in confirmed cases being the lowest since late March, paired with hospitals operating under capacity, Levine announced that hospitals will be able to resume elective surgeries.

They would be able to do so as long as they don't hinder their abilities to treat COVID-19 patients, she said.

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Statewide, roughly 47% of hospital beds, 40% of intensive care unit beds  and 70% of ventilators are available.

Local hospital data shows that there are 46 intensive care unit beds, 256 medical or surgical beds and 39 airborne isolation room beds available in York County hospitals. 

Three coronavirus patients in York County are on a ventilator, with 128 still available, according to the data.

Hospitals resuming elective surgeries is the latest development as the state prepares to transition into a phased reopening on May 8, which is broken down into red, yellow and green stages.

Gov. Tom Wolf's administration has said it is first looking at the north-central and northwestern regions, which have been less impacted by the coronavirus.

When a region is classified as yellow, some business closures will be rolled back, but . schools will remain closed and restaurants will still be restricted to curbside or delivery service.

The green phase will include lifting stay-at-home orders while still adhering to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and state health department guidelines, such as masks, if recommended. 

It is unlikely that south-central Pennsylvania will be one of the first regions to reopen because that would require 50 cases per 100,000 residents for two weeks before people can return to work in a given region.

York County, for example, as of noon Monday reported roughly 61 cases per 100,000 residents in the past two weeks.

— Logan Hullinger can be reached at lhullinger@yorkdispatch.com or via Twitter at @LoganHullYD.