York County's COVID-19 rates stabilize as much of state sees rise

Logan Hullinger
York Dispatch
 City of York Medical Director Dr. Matt Howie speaks at the York County Administrative Center in York City, Friday, Sept. 4, 2020. The recent uptick in positive COVID-19 testing, specifically at York County Prison, was addressed. Dawn J. Sagert photo

York County's average daily increases in COVID-19 infections have stabilized, bucking a trend seen in more than half of Pennsylvania's counties, where numbers are on the rise.

Pennsylvania this past week was one of more than 30 states to see an increase in its average daily cases. On three separate days, the number of infections statewide surpassed any high point since April.

And Spotlight PA data shows that, as of Monday, 32 counties have seen their cases per 100,000 people increase over the past 14 days.

York County's average, though, saw no change from the previous two-week period, remaining at 142 cases per 100,000 people. That number ranks 30th in the state.

“When I hear we’re holding steady, that’s kudos to the schools for doing a great job managing that,” said Dr. Matt Howie, medical director of the York City Health Bureau. "I think it’s also kudos to the general population. I think we’re all starting to pull the same direction.”

York's average marks a 23% decrease from one month ago, when the average number of daily cases per 100,000 people was 184.

More:York County had 180 deaths linked to COVID-19, 66 new cases

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

In recent weeks, a majority of states, including Pennsylvania, have seen larger-than-usual increases in their caseloads.

Over the past seven days, there have been an average of 1,245 cases reported in the state, a 47% increase since the previous weeklong period, The New York Times reported.

And, over the past two weeks, nearly half of the state's 67 counties have seen a similar upward trend in daily cases, including nearby Adams, Dauphin and Lebanon counties, which have averaged  101, 146 and 221, respectively.

With colleges' fall semesters underway, state officials have attributed the growing number of cases to large gatherings — something that has also resulted in an increase in cases among individuals between 19 and 24 years old.

“We know that congregation, especially in college and university settings, yields increased case counts. The mitigation efforts in place now are essential to flattening the curve and saving lives,” said Pennsylvania Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine in a statement Tuesday.

Some York County schools have taken precautionary measures to avoid spiking numbers.

Earlier this month, York College implemented an on-campus "fall break" in an effort to reduce the number of students gathering.

And last month, Harrisburg Area Community College announced it would hold its classes online for the rest of the school year.

Although county-level data of age demographic shifts are not available, regional data provided by the state shows demographics changing across the board since April.

In the south-central region, nearly 11% of cases are among those between 19 and 24 years old, an increase of four percentage points since April.

The most notable increase, though, has occurred in the north-central region of the state. There, the 19-24 age group accounts for 36% of all cases, up from 7% in April.

Infection rates have become a point of comparison when looking at how counties are faring during the pandemic, and York County has made improvements in terms of how it stacks up with other areas.

The county's infection rate came in at 4.6% between Oct. 2 and Oct. 8, the most recent statistics made available by the state health department.

That ranks 19th in the state, and although that is an increase from the previous weeklong period, it marks a significant change from figures late last month.

The county's infection rate at that point in time ranked third in the state at 7.8%, prompting concerns from Gov. Tom Wolf.

As of Tuesday, York County had 5,553 COVID-19 cases and 180 deaths linked to the disease, the state health department reported.

Statewide, the case total hit 174,646 and the death toll now stands at 8,384.

There have been 2,060,093 patients in the state who have tested negative for COVID-19, 66,625 of whom reside in York County.

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