COVID cases sharply rise in Allegheny County as holiday season approaches

by PublicSource

Allegheny County reported an average of 600 to 650 new COVID-19 cases per day over the past two weeks, a dramatic increase of around 67% from just two weeks ago. The county reported nearly 900 new cases today alone, Dr. LuAnn Brink, the chief epidemiologist for the health department, said at a Wednesday press briefing. 

Brink does not expect the spread of the virus to improve as the holiday season approaches. 

“This is the time of year when people head inside and gather with others, and that, as we know, is the exact type of environment that fosters the spread of this virus,” she said.

The county has reported 67 COVID-related deaths so far in November, putting the county on track to report fewer deaths than in October. Last month the county saw its third-most COVID-related deaths since the pandemic began. Nearly all of the vaccinated individuals who have died from the virus were elderly or had underlying health conditions, Brink said. 

Nearly all of the county’s cases are the Delta variant of the virus, Brink added. 

As of Nov. 24, more than 748,000 Allegheny County residents are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, with an additional 113,000 partially vaccinated against the virus. About 189,000 residents have received vaccine booster doses, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Health

In October and November, the county reported about 7,700 cases among vaccinated individuals, accounting for 38% of the county’s cases during those two months.  

About 20% of children ages 5 to 9 in the county have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

“This is a good start, but we can do better,” Brink said. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended on Nov. 2 that children over age 5 receive the vaccine.  

As county residents prepare to travel during the holiday season, Brink recommended they get vaccinated if they have not already, practice social distancing and wear masks indoors and on public transportation.

— By PublicSource intern Amelia Winger

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


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