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State refuses to detail 6 new COVID-19 deaths in York County

Logan Hullinger
York Dispatch

York County saw a surge in deaths linked to COVID-19 on Wednesday, but state health officials offered few details as to when and where they occurred.

The state health department reported six new deaths in the county as of noon, pushing the death toll to 149 since the outbreak began. It was York County's highest single-day increase in deaths since April 21, when seven  deaths were reported.

However, department spokesperson Nate Wardle would only confirm that two of those deaths occurred in long-term care facilities. There have been 82 deaths in those facilities since March.

"I do not have anything further to provide as far as when or where they occurred," Wardle said.

He would not detail the timing of the deaths. Nor would he provide any information about if they were related. 

The state has often refused to provide details related to COVID-19 cases and deaths by citing the Disease Prevention and Control Law, adopted in 1955 to deal with an outbreak of syphilis.

York County Coroner Pam Gay did not respond Wednesday to requests for comment.

The county's case total on Wednesday also hit 4,606, an increase of 52 cases over the day before. There have been 56,851 patients who have tested negative for COVID-19 in the county, about 3.2% of the total 1,790,412 negative patients in the state.

Statewide, there were 898 additional cases of COVID-19, which pushed the total to 152,544. About 81% of patients have recovered.

There were also 39 new deaths. The state death toll now stands at 8,062.

More:Coronavirus pandemic: Here's what York County's data looks like

More:Pennsylvania Senate OKs bill to loosen virus limits on restaurants, bars

York County ranked second in its COVID-19 case count per 100,000 people between Sept. 11 and Sept. 17, according to the most recent statistics made available by the state health department.

York's cases per 100,000 during that time period came in at 85.2, behind only Centre County's 322.5 cases.

The county's infection rate also ranked third in the state at 7.8%, falling behind Centre and Indiana counties, which had infection rates of 12.1% and 11.6%, respectively.

On Monday, Gov. Tom Wolf listed York County as one of 10 counties in the state with "concerning" positivity rates. 

State officials are expected to begin discussions with local school officials in the two hardest hit counties, Centre and Indiana, about what can be done to slow the spread of COVID-19, Wolf said in a news release. 

Statewide positivity rates have declined in recent weeks. 

The complete age breakdown of those who have tested positive in Pennsylvania is as follows, according to the state health department:

  • Approximately 1% are ages 0-4
  • Nearly 2% are ages 5-12
  • Approximately 4% are ages 13-18
  • Nearly 13% are ages 19-24
  • Approximately 36% are ages 25-49
  • Nearly 22% are ages 50-64
  • Nearly 22% are ages 65 or older

As of Wednesday morning, 6.9 million cases of COVID-19 had been confirmed in the U.S., according to Johns Hopkins University. Deaths linked to the disease surpassed 200,000.

Worldwide, there were 31.6 million confirmed cases and 972,000 deaths.

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