‘Vaccines continue to do their job.’ No mask mandate in Allegheny County.

According to newly released state data, 97% of Pennsylvania’s COVID-19-related deaths since January involved individuals who were unvaccinated or partially vaccinated. Statewide, unvaccinated or partially vaccinated people have accounted for 94% of reported COVID-19 cases and 95% of hospitalizations with COVID-19 listed as the primary diagnosis during the same period.

About 23% of Allegheny County’s new cases in August were “breakthrough” cases, in which a person contracted the virus despite being fully vaccinated, based on analysis of the best available data. This is an increase from the summer, when breakthrough cases made up 18% of new cases in July and 7% of new cases in June, Health Department Director Dr. Debra Bogen said at a Wednesday briefing.

About 10% of hospitalized COVID-19 patients in Allegheny County were vaccinated, and local COVID-19-related deaths remain uncommon among fully vaccinated people, Bogen said. 

“In other words, the vaccines continue to do their job: protect from serious illness, hospitalization and death,” Bogen said.

COVID-19-related deaths have increased overall in Allegheny County throughout the summer, going from 11 deaths in July to 54 deaths in August. At least 21 COVID-19-related deaths have been reported in Allegheny County so far in September, Bogen said.

On Sept. 12, Allegheny County Jail reported its first COVID-19 related death. According to the county, the incarcerated individual had other medical risk factors and had been hospitalized since late August. The individual was not vaccinated.

The Allegheny County Council rejected a proposed mask mandate for indoor and outdoor gatherings with at least 250 attendees on Tuesday. Rather than encouraging a mandate, County Executive Rich Fitzgerald encouraged county residents to follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s COVID-19 guidelines, which include wearing masks in areas with high numbers of COVID-19 cases like Allegheny County. 

About 71% of Allegheny County residents have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

— By PublicSource intern Amelia Winger

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