Delta variant fuels majority of Allegheny County cases; officials expect more hospitalizations

by PublicSource

PublicSource has been tracking COVID-19’s spread on a daily basis since March 2020. More than a year later, in an effort to direct our resources into enterprise reporting on the pandemic and other important issues, we will cover the Allegheny County Health Department’s weekly briefing on Wednesdays and update the numbers on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. We may adjust as the prevalence of the coronavirus ebbs and flows. If you have questions or comments, please email PublicSource’s managing editor halle@publicsource.org.

The Delta variant of COVID-19 is driving a continued increase in cases and hospitalizations in Allegheny County. 

Allegheny County Health Department Director Dr. Debra Bogen reported that the county is experiencing more than 100 new confirmed and probable cases of the virus per day. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC] estimates the Delta variant comprises two-thirds of new cases in the Pittsburgh region. 

The extent of the virus’ resurgence in the county likely exceeds what’s been reported, due to asymptomatic transmission, Bogen said. She emphasized the renewed importance of testing, and urged county residents — vaccinated or not — to get tested if they believe they’ve been exposed to COVID-19. 

“The Delta variant is very contagious and is driving the current wave of the pandemic across the United States. Locally, our cases are rising quickly and we are starting to see increased hospitalizations,” Bogen said. “Please, I ask you again, go get vaccinated.

In the last 28 days, 20% of the new cases have stemmed from people who were fully vaccinated according to available data, Bogen said — an increase that is to be expected as more people become vaccinated. Around 67% of the county’s population has received at least one dose of the vaccine, according to the CDC

The increase in hospitalizations, Bogen said, is being driven by the county’s unvaccinated population. While vaccinated people can contract COVID-19, she stressed that vaccines are effective against serious illness.

Despite warning of a potential return to mask mandates in last week’s briefing, County Executive Rich Fitzgerald said the county is not considering a new mandate at this time, nor did he specifically mention that the CDC now recommends universal masking in indoor public spaces.

“At this point, we’re recommending to follow the CDC guidelines,” Fitzgerald said. Allegheny County is now classified by the CDC as having “substantial” spread of COVID-19

Allegheny County Health Department Director Dr. Debra Bogen (courtesy of Allegheny County)

 

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Delta variant fuels majority of Allegheny County cases; officials expect more hospitalizations

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