York County reports more COVID deaths as new cases decline

Matt Enright
York Dispatch

York County's COVID outlook is a mixed one as health officials reported an uptick in hospitalizations and deaths despite a drop in new positive cases.

York County added 595 cases and six deaths over the last week, according to the state Department of Health, bringing its pandemic totals to 136,166 and 1,574, respectively. Last week, the county reported 744 new cases and three deaths.

The county also reported 45 hospitalizations this week, up from 37, with four in the ICU and two on a ventilator. That's far lower than the rolling average around this time last year, but a sharp increase from just a month ago.

Local authorities are still pushing the public to get vaccinated, particularly as bivalent boosters that are effective against the several omicron variants are now widely available.

"Administration of both the bivalent booster and flu vaccine has been steady at WellSpan locations — and we do expect volumes to increase in October and November," WellSpan spokesperson Ryan Coyle said Thursday. It is safe to receive the vaccine booster and the flu shot at the same time, he added.

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According to a New York Times data analysis, the daily average of reported cases is 85, a 25% decrease from the average two weeks ago, and the county remains at a low community level, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Meanwhile, the CDC is tracking additional variants that have emerged in the last week.

According to CDC data, BF.7 — short for BA. — made up 1.7% of sequenced infections nationwide. Another variant, BA.2.75 — dubbed Centaurus — comprised 1.3% of the infections studied.

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Dr. Stuart Ray, vice chair of medicine for data integrity and analytics at Johns Hopkins Department of Medicine, told Fortune that it's possible these new variants are more transmissible than previous versions, based on the available research. And it's not yet clear how well the bivalent booster works against them.

Ray added that the variants are continually evolving, so he wouldn't be surprised to see more of them emerge this fall.

“It’s been a while since we went from alpha to beta to gamma to delta, then to omicron,” he said. “We may be complacent. This may be feeding into the notion that this is behind us.”

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