York County's COVID-19 case rate lowest since June 2020

Logan Hullinger
York Dispatch

York County's COVID-19 case rate is as low as it was this time last year, continuing a downward trend that has proved promising — at least temporarily — to local health officials.

As of Thursday, there had been 54 cases per 100,000 people in the county over the past 14 days. That's the lowest the case rate has been locally since June 20, 2020, when there were 48 cases per 100,000 over the same number of days.

In total, the county has seen 46,919 cases and 823 deaths. There have been five deaths in the 14 days that ended Thursday, a decrease from the 11 deaths over the previous 14-day period, according to state Health Department data.

“I think we do owe ourselves the right to catch a breath a little here,” said Dr. Matt Howie, medical director of the York City Health Bureau. “We owe ourselves the ability to appreciate the pause.”

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Howie cautioned that COVID-19 doesn't spread as efficiently during the summer as it does during the fall and winter seasons. But there is still a light at the end of the tunnel, even if there are doubts in the future, he said. 

The state Health Department also has concerns.

"Public health officials are concerned about the potential for a future surge and remain vigilant in efforts to combat the virus. The reality is that unvaccinated and even partially vaccinated people are susceptible to contracting the coronavirus, regardless of their age or the community in which they live," said department spokesperson Mark O’Neil.

York's positivity rate, or the percentage of patients who have tested positive for COVID-19, has also dramatically decreased in as little as a week.

 Between June 4 and June 10, the most recent data available, the positivity rate was 1.8%. That's down from 4.1% in the previous seven-day period.

However, vaccination rates have also steeply decreased in York, an indication that health officials in the past have said shows vaccine hesitancy remains.

“We’re running into human nature, and human nature is risk averse,” Howie said.

In the past 14 days, 1,140 residents per 100,000 received the first vaccine dose. That's the lowest number since before Jan. 11, when the number was 1,221. 

While those who initially wanted to be vaccinated have been served, those who are hesitant or outright oppose getting a shot remain to be convinced, health officials have said.

In total, 28,626 York County residents are partially vaccinated and 181,886 are fully vaccinated.

York's progress during the COVID-19 pandemic mirrors that of the state as a whole, according to an analysis by The New York Times. 

The state's 14-day case count is down 49% from the 14-day period the day before. Deaths are down 19%, and 58% of residents are fully vaccinated, which ranks eighth in the country.

In total, there have been 1,209,448 COVID-19 cases in the state and 27,546 deaths linked to the disease, according to the state Health Department.

1,400,279 residents have been partially vaccinated and 5,177,770 have been fully vaccinated.

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