Steady rise in York County's COVID numbers continues

Matt Enright
York Dispatch

York County continues to report a steady increase in new COVID cases — although the fall spike many feared has yet to materialize.

"Fortunately, we are seeing our community's immune protection hold up to the more diverse variants circulating in the area," York City Bureau of Health director Dr. Matt Howie said. "Health care resources are meeting the demand so far."

The county reported 489 new cases and three deaths to the state Department of Health last week, bringing its pandemic totals to 138,984 and 1,599 respectively. The total number of hospitalizations also remained steady at 35. Two of those patients were in the ICU, but none were on a ventilator.

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Fast-growing variants BQ.1 and BQ.1.1 continued to account for a growing number of cases in the country, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. While BA.5 accounted for 29.7% of new cases in the U.S. last week, BQ.1.1 accounted for 24.1% and BQ.1 accounted for 20.1%, both record highs.

 City of York Medical Director Dr. Matt Howie speaks at the York County Administrative Center in York City, Friday, Sept. 4, 2020. The recent uptick in positive COVID-19 testing, specifically at York County Prison, was addressed. Dawn J. Sagert photo

UPMC infectious disease specialist Dr. John Goldman attributed the relative stasis to vaccination.

"Because people have been vaccinated, because people have been infected previously, we are not seeing the same degree of hospitalizations," Goldman said. "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".

Of course, indoor holiday gatherings will increase the level of risk.

"We are not done yet with COVID-19," Howie said. "Keep supporting each other as we are learning what the 'new normal' looks like."

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As Thanksgiving approaches, health officials are warning that people should get the booster before the holiday.

“The message from the local health departments on this is that you should by now ― if you are eligible and able — be getting your booster to protect you through the holidays,” chief executive officer of the National Association of County and City Health Officials Lori Tremmel Freeman told CNN.

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