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York County COVID hospitalizations triple in a week

Matt Enright
York Dispatch

York County's COVID cases continue at the same pace, according to state data.

But the number of hospitalizations has more than tripled over the last week.

Thirty-eight people were hospitalized in York County due to COVID-19 on Wednesday, with three people in the ICU and two on a ventilator. That's 27 more than last week.

WellSpan Health and UPMC both say they haven't seen a steep increase in terms of hospitalizations this week.

"Our COVID-19 hospitalization numbers continue to fluctuate up and down by  very small increments day to day, but nothing that would require our care teams to adjust their approach," WellSpan Health spokesperson Ryan Coyle said via email.

The county reported 798 additional cases and two more deaths, bringing its pandemic totals to 134,827 and 1,565 respectively.

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"I think we're muddling on right now," Dr. Matt Howie, medical director of the York City Bureau of Health, said of COVID.

There has not been a new coronavirus variant for some time, Howie said. Right now, a lot of transmission of the virus is through school-aged children and their parents, which makes sense with schools being back in session, he said.

"Obviously, we'd expect to see an increased number of cases in that setting, and that's been bearing out," Howie said. "Fortunately, we're not seeing a surge in the over-65 group in terms of COVID, and that's who I'm paying a lot of attention to. They have a lot of complications when they get infected." 

That's what makes variants so critical, because they generally have "escape from immune capture," which means  the antibodies previously available aren't quite as effective on variants. 

"Because people have been vaccinated, because people have been infected previously, we are not seeing the same degree of hospitalizations," UPMC infectious disease specialist Dr. John Goldman said via email. 

"As more of us get vaccinated, the virus doesn't have the same chances of mutating like it did before. Wear the mask in risky settings or if you are at higher risk."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention continues to rank York County as "low" on its community levels metric. That means residents should get tested if they have symptoms and stay up-to-date with COVID vaccines.

The new bivalent vaccine, which combines half the original vaccine recipe and half protection against the newest omicron variants, BA.4 and BA.5, can assist with that.

As for what people can do to help mitigate the spread of COVID, Howie said they remain the same: get tested if you have symptoms, stay home if you're not feeling well, wear masks in enclosed spaces, space out if you can and get the vaccine and booster.

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There's room for optimism, the World Health Organization's director-general told reporters this week as worldwide deaths from COVID-19 dropped to levels not seen since March 2020.

"We are not there yet. But the end is in sight," WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters at a virtual news conference as reported by Reuters. "Now is the time to run harder and make sure we cross the line and reap the rewards of all our hard work."

That includes strengthening policies for COVID and future viruses as well as continuing testing for the virus and vaccinating 100% of high-risk populations, Tedros said. 

— Reach Matt Enright via email at or via Twitter at @Matthew_Enright.