Amid the rise of the Delta variant, Allegheny County appears to have avoided the increase in COVID-19 transmission that several parts of the country have faced, a success county officials credit to its comparatively high vaccination rate. There has, however, been a slight increase in detected infections, with 42 cases reported on Thursday.
“Our numbers here continue to be very, very good in Allegheny County, which is something everybody should be very pleased and proud to be where we are,” County Executive Rich Fitzgerald said in a press briefing Wednesday. “We see around the country in many, many states an absolute explosion, if you will, another wave that’s coming in places like Florida and Missouri and Mississippi, etc., where vaccination rates are much much lower than what we’ve seen here.”
The average number of new daily cases has remained about the same in the last two weeks as the previous two weeks: about 10 to 15, which Allegheny County Health Department Director Dr. Debra Bogen characterized as very low. ACHD has identified nine total cases of the Delta variant.
“If we look at how the variant has played out in other areas, of course it concerns me,” Bogen said. “At this point, we haven’t seen that impact locally.”
On the day of the briefing, ACHD reported 55 new cases over 48 hours, a small but notable jump from what the county has typically been seeing.
“But that’s two days of data,” Bogen said during the briefing. “That does not make a trend. So we’re basically going to follow the data and see what happens and keep you informed through our various methods to make sure you’re aware as well. It’s really a wait and see.”
About 66% of Allegheny County residents ages 10 and older have been at least partially vaccinated and about 60% have been fully vaccinated.
“What it means to me is that we still have work to do to get more people vaccinated in the county,” Bogen said. “Our team is waiting for an updated data set from the state so we can dive into the details to really better identify communities and areas that have lower rates of vaccination than others. And that will allow us to target specific areas and populations.”
From Fitzgerald’s perspective, the current state of the pandemic in Allegheny County remains good, but that doesn’t mean the county should throw caution to the wind.
“The numbers again have looked very good, and we want to continue along those lines, but to just think that this is over would be premature,” Fitzgerald said.
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