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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Allegheny County reported a noted drop in COVID infections this week, a positive sign after officials last week said cases appeared to be leveling off. For the week of Jan. 16-22, the county reported 11,821 infections, down from 22,326 cases the prior week.
Of the newly reported cases, about 8% were reinfections and 44% were in unvaccinated individuals. The county reported 72 deaths in the most recent week. There are currently 648 hospitalized patients in the county, according to state figures.
“In a cup-half-full analysis, our daily case counts have stabilized,” County Health Director Dr. Debra Bogen said in a Jan. 19 press conference, hoping that cases would soon decline.
Bogen noted last week that while hospitalizations had spiked, they have been well below pandemic highs from December 2020, when overall cases were at lower levels. Bogen credited this to the effectiveness of vaccines and an overall lower hospitalization rate for the omicron variant.
Bogen said results of municipal wastewater monitoring from the first week of January indicated more than 90% of the virus detected was the omicron variant. She added that now, nearly two weeks later, the percentage is most likely higher.
The wastewater monitoring program is in the developing stages of tracking emerging variants and will be used to predict future surges, Bogen said during the press conference.
Due to the increase of home testing, new cases of COVID-19 in state data are undercounted, because home test results are not added to the state reporting system. However, to improve the local data of new cases, and the county recently launched a new voluntary online self-test reporting form.
“This data will not be added to the state data, but we will report them separately,” Bogen said. “When residents self-report positive tests, they receive the latest guidance on isolation and quarantine, and links to more information.”
— By PublicSource intern Katelyn Vue
(For more information or help with scheduling an appointment through Allegheny County’s Area Agency on Aging, residents can call 412-350-4234.)
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