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Number of York County COVID-19 cases again on the rise

Logan Hullinger
York Dispatch
A COVID-19 particle is pictured in this image provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC/TNS)

One week after COVID-19 case increases in York County seemed to have stabilized, health officials are concerned by what appears to be an uptick, which could indicate a fall resurgence.

As of Tuesday, York County's average number of cases per 100,000 people over a 14-day period was 179, which ranked 18th in the state, according to the state Department of Health. That's a 21% increase from the week prior, when the average was 142 — a number that was unchanged from the previous two-week period, prompting a sigh of relief from local health officials. 

"The 14-day average takes into account trends over time," said state Health Department spokesperson Nate Wardle. "Seeing a 14-day average increase by 30 cases is concerning. It shows that even when averaging out the data over 14 days, the increases are occurring."

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

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

York County on Wednesday saw an additional 42 cases, pushing the case total to 5,839 since the outbreak began. That did lower the 14-day average to 173, though other counties' data was not available.

That 14-day average still was the highest that it's been since Sept. 16, when it came in at 188.

However, York County still isn't one of the 30 counties in the state that have a clear trend of steadily growing case increases, according to a Spotlight PA analysis.

Those counties that have indicated rising case averages per 100,000 people include nearby Cumberland and Lebanon counties, which have averages of 141 and 327, respectively, according to the investigative news outlet.

State officials have recently cautioned that numbers are indicating a fall resurgence of COVID-19. The state has seen case increases surpassing 1,000 cases for the past 15 days.

Over the past week, there has been an average of 1,514 new cases per day statewide, an increase of 42% from the average two weeks earlier, according to The New York Times.

"We know that large gatherings, going to bars and restaurants and other items are leading to these increases," Wardle said. "However, we are also seeing, both in Pennsylvania and nationally, that small gatherings with family or friends are also contributing to the increase."

Dr. Matt Howie, medical director of the York City Bureau of Health, agreed that the recent numbers are of concern.

However, he added that he didn't want to speculate too much because averages "reflect relatively small numbers, so variation over time is to be expected."

Howie said cases could be on the rise for numerous reasons.

Those reasons include the fact that cooler weather in the fall means people spend more time indoors; school and restaurant openings lead to individuals sitting in closed spaces; and "message fatigue" puts distancing and mask-wearing at risk.

"While I am an optimist by nature, I am also a realist," Howie said. "Coronavirus is not done with us, and York is no exception."

When looking at other measurements, York County also has seen increases in areas such as its positivity rate.

The county's positivity rate was 4.9% between Oct. 9 and Oct. 15, the most recent data available. That is a slight increase since the last seven-day period between Oct. 2 and Oct. 8, when the positivity rate was 4.6%. 

York County's rate ranks 22nd in the state, but it is still above the statewide average of 4.3%.

The county has averaged 56 hospitalizations per day over that same time period, up 2.9 since the previous seven-day period. That is the 13th highest increase in daily hospitalizations in the state.

As of noon Wednesday, York County had 6,013 cases of COVID-19 and 196 deaths linked to the disease.

Statewide, there were 186,297 cases and 8,562 deaths.

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