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New flu, COVID cases start to wane but health officials say it's too early to spot a trend

Noel Miller
York Dispatch

York County continues to report widespread flu and COVID-19 cases, likely spurred by holiday gatherings, and health officials are unsure what the future could hold.

"People in our communities are still gathering for many seasonal celebrations, including the New Year’s holiday this weekend," said WellSpan Health spokesperson Julie Kupchella. "At this point, it is too soon to know the effect the holidays and indoor gatherings will have on this trend."

Ordinarily, the worst respiratory illnesses peak in January or early February. This fall, however, the combination of COVID-19, seasonal flu and respiratory syncytial virus, known as RSV, meant that patients began filling hospital waiting rooms in November.

Pennsylvania's flu season came early this year but there's a glimmer of good news: the worst may be behind us now.

York County added 1,367 flu cases in the last week — down slightly from the week before — for a total of 8,397 cases so far this season, according to state Department of Health data. Statewide, the total reached more than 144,000 cases.

COVID also remains a threat, with York county reporting 630 new cases and three additional deaths.

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Health professionals have been concerned about case numbers rising rapidly during the holidays.

"We do anticipate holiday gatherings may lead to additional cases and potential hospitalizations for both COVID-19 and the flu in early January," said WellSpan Health spokesperson Ryan Coyle.

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Health officials continue to recommend people get up to date on their vaccinations and boosters.

"We'd like to remind patients that it is not too late to get a flu vaccine or schedule a COVID-19 booster to help protect yourself from becoming ill as we continue through the respiratory virus season and into the new year," Kupchella said.

Traffic is directed at the new drive-thru COVID-19 testing site at the WellSpan Education Center located at 1409 Williams Road in Springettsbury Township Monday, Jan. 10, 2022. The site is open for testing Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. No appointments are necessary. Bill Kalina photo

Washing hands thoroughly and avoiding exposure to those who seem ill is the best protection as the flu season continues, she added.

— Reach Noel Miller at NMiller3@yorkdispatch.com or via Twitter at @TheNoelM.