YORK COUNTY

York County reports steady COVID cases as flu begins to wane

Matt Enright
York Dispatch

York County's still reporting significant COVID cases and deaths but, as the winter of the "tripledemic" continues, local hospitals remain in relatively good shape.

“We aren't seeing a high rate of hospitalizations," said UPMC infectious disease specialist Dr. John Goldman, noting that the numbers of both COVID-19 and flu patients who need hospital beds have remained steady.

According to state Department of Health data, York County reported 443 new cases and six deaths from COVID-19, bringing its pandemic totals to 145,116 and 1,637 respectively. New flu cases, meanwhile, fell to 233 this week for a season total of 10,030. On Wednesday, 34 people in York County were hospitalized with COVID-19, with four adults in ICU and one on a ventilator.

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That being said, COVID-19 is still a concern. According to preliminary data from Johns Hopkins University as reported by CNN, more than 267,000 people in the U.S. died of COVID-19 in 2022. That's a reduction from more than 350,000 deaths in 2020 and more than 475,000 deaths in 2021.

Even with the reduction, that death total could mean COVID-19 is the third leading cause of death in the U.S. for the third year in a row.

Pinpointing a cause of death can be difficult, however.

"It’s really part art, part science,” Robert Anderson, chief of the mortality statistics division of the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics, told CNN. “Sometimes it’s very difficult to determine the cause of death.”

COVID-19 testing at Terminal E at Logan International Airport on June 6, 2022, in Boston. (Matt Stone/Boston Herald/TNS)

According to Johns Hopkins, approximately 7,000 people have died of COVID-19 so far in 2023 across the U.S.

"We strongly urge adults and children to get their flu shots and their COVID booster," Goldman said. "Influenza and COVID vaccinations protect us from severe disease, hospitalization and death."

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Goldman said the hospital system still recommends masking in high-risk settings and for high-risk individuals.

The "kraken" variant, XBB.1.5, was responsible for 43% of current COVID cases, according to CDC data.

According to the CDC, York County's community level is currently medium for COVID. That indicates that residents should wear a high-quality mask or respirator when indoors in public if they're at high risk to get sick, self-test if you live with someone who's at high risk to get sick, stay up-to-date with vaccines and boosters, avoid contact with people who have suspected or confirmed COVID-19, follow recommendations for isolation if you have suspected or confirmed COVID-19, and follow the recommendations for what to do if you are exposed to someone with COVID-19.

The World Health Organization recently updated its guidelines to instruct people that they should mask regardless of the local situation given current spreading of COVID.

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