York County reports two COVID-related deaths, slight uptick in cases

Matt Enright
York Dispatch

York County reported a slight uptick in new COVID cases as the spread of the disease remains relatively stable following a seasonal peak in December.

According to state Department of Health data, the county added 411 cases and two deaths over the last week, bringing its pandemic totals to 146,887 and 1,655, respectively.

While York County residents continue to die of the disease, the nation is preparing to end the emergency declaration in May. That declaration made federal funds available to public health officials nationwide.

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The end of the declaration will mean, for example, that Medicare beneficiaries will have to pay out-of-pocket for home COVID-19 tests and treatments, according to analysis by the Kaiser Family Foundation. In-person lab tests ordered by doctors and other health care providers, however, would still be covered.

Nothing would change about the access and cost of COVID-19 vaccines and boosters, Kaiser reported. However, some people may lose the flexibility afforded by health insurance plans with regard to telemedicine.

"Overall, the widest ranging impact from the end of the public health emergency will likely be higher costs for COVID tests – both at-home tests and those performed by clinicians," the analysis reads. "As many Americans delay or go without needed care due to cost, the end of free COVID tests could have broad implications for the people’s ability to get timely COVID diagnoses or prevent transmission."

Xavier Becerra, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services secretary, wrote in a letter to state governors that the federal government would work to "ensure an orderly transition."

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Pennsylvania appears likely to exceed 4 million cases of COVID this year. So far, the state has reported 3.5 million total cases across the pandemic and 50,055 deaths.

Meanwhile, York County added just 39 cases of flu, according to state data. That's a new low in flu cases added per week during the current flu season and continues to assuage concerns health officials had of a "tripledemic" of COVID, flu and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV).

The World Health Organization said earlier this month that COVID-19 remains a global health emergency but that the organization is hopeful the world will transition out of the emergency phase of the pandemic.

“We remain hopeful that in the coming year, the world will transition to a new phase in which we reduce hospitalizations and deaths to the lowest possible level, and health systems are able to manage COVID-19 in an integrated and sustainable way,” said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the WHO's director-general, according to CNBC.

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