Allegheny County nears 2,500 COVID-related deaths

by PublicSource 

Nearly 2,500 Allegheny County residents have died due to COVID-related issues, County Health Director Dr. Debra Bogen said at a Wednesday press briefing. The county has reported about 500 COVID-related deaths since June. 

“Most tragic is that nearly all of these deaths were preventable with vaccines,” Bogen said about the deaths since this summer. 

Allegheny County has averaged about 650 new COVID-19 cases every day for the past two weeks. The county’s positivity rate for COVID-19 testing is approaching the peak of 14.5% reported last winter, Bogen said. 

Bogen does not expect the spread of the virus to decrease during the holiday season.

Nearly all of Allegheny County’s COVID-19 cases are the Delta variant of the virus. The county has yet to report a case of the virus’s Omicron variant, a highly infectious new strain that was first reported on Nov. 26 and has now reached 20 states. Bogen believes it’s “really just a matter of time” until the county reports its first Omicron case.

The county is testing a small sample of infections to determine what variants of the virus are present locally, Bogen said. 

Allegheny County residents should get vaccinated against the virus to reduce its spread, Bogen said. Fully vaccinated residents should receive a booster dose of the vaccine, she added.

After several weeks of decline, the county reported a slight increase in the number of individuals receiving their first dose or booster dose of a COVID-19 vaccine during the week of Dec. 4, which Bogen said may be a protective measure against the Omicron variant.  

Demand for vaccines among children appears to have dwindled, Bogen added. So far, the county has administered at least one vaccine dose to about 27% of children ages 5 to 9 and about 54% of children ages 10 to 19.

As of Dec. 8, nearly 765,000 Allegheny County residents are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. More than 238,000 residents have received vaccine booster doses, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Health.

— By PublicSource intern Amelia Winger

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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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