York County COVID-19 case rate doubles over past two weeks

Logan Hullinger
York Dispatch
A man wears a U.S. flag face mask on July 19, 2021, on a street in Hollywood, on the second day of the return of the indoor mask mandate in Los Angeles County due to a spike in coronavirus cases. (Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images/TNS)

York County's COVID-19 case rate doubled over the past two weeks, bucking a downward trend as mask mandates resurface across the country in response to the delta variant.

As of Tuesday, York County had seen 53 cases per 100,000 people over the past 14-day period. That's a 103.8% increase over the previous 14-day period, when there were 26 cases per 100,000 people. The upward trend mirrors what states across the country are experiencing.

“I think the delta variant is absolutely a key player in this,” said Dr. Matt Howie, medical director of the York City Health Bureau. “I think there are pockets of spread right now."

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COVID-19 cases are surging nationwide as states grapple with the highly contagious variant. A growing number of breakthrough cases, or cases among those who are fully vaccinated, have also surfaced.

The U.S. has seen the variant in 83.2% of recent cases, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The variant has been present in 69.4% of cases in the region that encompasses Pennsylvania.

State and county-level figures were not available, but state Health Department spokesperson Maggi Barton said every county in Pennsylvania is seeing an uptick in cases.

Statewide, the number of cases over the most recent 14-day period increased by 185% over the previous period, The New York Times reported.

Meanwhile, summer events such as the York State Fair bring in massive crowds.

“I don’t know whether (the fair) will be a super spreader event, but when you get that many individuals in that space, there will be some spread that occurs,” Howie said.

In response to increased spread, the CDC is expected to reverse its masking recommendations, advising that even vaccinated individuals should wear masks indoors where cases are surging.

Some cities, such as St. Louis; Savannah, Georgia; and Provincetown, Massachusetts, have already reinstated mask mandates, The Associated Press reported.

In addition, California has opted to require proof of vaccination for state employees and health care workers, and New York City is requiring city employees to be vaccinated or be tested weekly for the virus.

At the federal level, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is requiring front-line health care workers to get vaccinated within the next two months.

Howie said both the mask and vaccine precautions are reasonable given the uptick in cases.

But he also acknowledged a potential silver lining for York County — its vaccination rate may be making progress after plummeting since April.

As of Tuesday, 784 patients per 100,000 people had received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine over the past 14 days. That's a 27.3% increase over the previous 14-day period, when the number was 616. 

Those receiving a dose that left them fully vaccinated decreased during the same time period.

As of Tuesday, 735 patients per 100,000 people had received a final dose of the vaccine over the past 14 days. That's a 25.7% decrease compared with the previous 14-day period, when the number was 989.

In total, 14,749 people have been partially vaccinated in York County and 190,455 people have been fully vaccinated.

Meanwhile, WellSpan Health is slated to close its mass vaccination clinic at the Manchester Crossroads shopping center to increase its coverage area.

“The hospitalization numbers over the last month or so have been flat, but as we continue to see case counts go up, we know there is potential that we may see more individuals seeking care," said spokesperson Ryan Coyle.

WellSpan is transitioning to vaccination services at the following sites before the clinic closes, although Coyle noted residents' interest in vaccines remains low.

  • WellSpan Family Medicine-Roosevelt Avenue, 1401 Roosevelt Ave.
  • WellSpan Family Medicine-Stony Brook, 422 E. Market St.
  • WellSpan Family Medicine-Spring Grove, 430 N. Main St. No. 4, Spring Grove. 
  • WellSpan Family Medicine-Stonebridge, 13515 Wolfe Road, New Freedom. 
  • York City community COVID-19 vaccine site at Family First Health, 116 S. George St.
  • WellSpan Pharmacy at Apple Hill Medical Center, 25 Monument Road, Suite 265 (vaccination walk-in hours from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday)
  • Walk-ins are accepted at the family medicine locations during normal business hours. Patients can also make an appointment by utilizing MyWellSpan or by calling the COVID-19 hotline at 1-855-851-3641.

There have been 47,371 COVID-19 cases and 838 deaths in York County since the outbreak began, according to the state Health Department.

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