York County reports 7 new COVID deaths as experts warn of fall surge

Matt Enright
York Dispatch

York County reported seven new COVID deaths over the last week amid expert warnings of a possible fall surge.

Despite the recent rise in deaths — last week's update saw six deaths — the number of new cases being reported continued to fall.

According to the state Department of Health, the county reported 467 new cases, for a total of 137,108 since the pandemic began. The county has reported 1,582 COVID deaths since March 2020. Meanwhile, the county's hospitals saw a net increase of two COVID patients, for a total of 35.

Experts are warning that, as the fall goes on, people should be prepared for another surge in cases due to new variants of the virus. And a new Scottish study on long COVID shows that those who get infected by the virus don't necessarily recover quickly.

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The study, first reported by the Washington Post and published in scientific journal Nature Communications, shows that 1 in 20 people have not fully recovered between six and 18 months after infection.

Jill Pell, a University of Glasgow professor who led the research on the study, told the Washington Post the study revealed the impact of long COVID.

“There are lots of different impacts going beyond health to quality of life, employment, schooling and the ability to look after yourself,” she said.

Local health officials have recommended that residents get the COVID-19 vaccine and booster for omicron, as well as social distance and wear a mask when that is not possible.

"It is how we care for our community," York City Health Bureau Director Dr. Matt Howie said last week.

In European countries like the United Kingdom, France and Italy, COVID cases have begun rising, and health experts warn that the U.S. could be next.

"In the past, what's happened in Europe often has been a harbinger for what's about to happen in the United States," Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, told NPR. "So I think the bottom line message for us in this country is: We have to be prepared for what they are beginning to see in Europe."

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Variant BA.5 remains the dominant variant, accounting for 79.2% of COVID cases. However, new variant BA 4.6 made up 13.6% of the U.S. cases this week. This variant is being identified as one of a few variants that could potentially drive a surge of cases.

During an event with the University of South California Annenberg Center for Health Journalism, Dr. Anthony Fauci said people should be prepared for a new variant to emerge that could elude the current vaccines and boosters.

“We should anticipate that we very well may get another variant that would emerge, that would elude the immune response that we’ve gotten from infection and/or from vaccination,” Fauci told CNBC.

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