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COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are rising in Pennsylvania

  • Anne Danahy/StateImpact Pennsylvania
Meg Edwards, left, of Flourtown, Pa., comforts her daughter, Kate Edwards, 15, as she receives a Pfizer COVID-19 vaccination from registered nurse Philene Moore at a Montgomery County, Pa. Office of Public Health vaccination clinic at the King of Prussia Mall, Tuesday, May 11, 2021, in King of Prussia, Pa.

Matt Slocum / AP Photo

Meg Edwards, left, of Flourtown, Pa., comforts her daughter, Kate Edwards, 15, as she receives a Pfizer COVID-19 vaccination from registered nurse Philene Moore at a Montgomery County, Pa. Office of Public Health vaccination clinic at the King of Prussia Mall, Tuesday, May 11, 2021, in King of Prussia, Pa.

Pennsylvania is seeing an upswing in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, likely due to several factors, according to a Penn State infectious disease expert.

COVID cases in Pennsylvania increased an average of 4,000 a day in the past week, a rate last seen in February. Statewide, hospitalizations are climbing too — more than doubling in the past month. But that’s still nowhere near the high seen during the Omicron wave.

Matthew Ferrari, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Dynamics at Penn State, said it’s more important to focus on trends than the absolute numbers.

“But what we are seeing is an increasing trend, and that’s a concern,” Ferrari said.

Seth Wenig / AP Photo

Marvin Marcus, 79, a resident at the Hebrew Home at Riverdale, receives a COVID-19 booster shot in New York, Monday, Sept. 27, 2021. The deadline for hospital and nursing home workers in New York state to be vaccinated against COVID-19 arrived Monday with the prospect of severe staff shortages fueled by workers getting suspended or fired for refusing to be inoculated. All health care workers in New York state at hospitals and nursing homes are required to be vaccinated with at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine by Monday. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

Ferrari pointed to several factors behind the increase. Many adults who got boosters now have waning immunity again. There’s a shift in variants. And, there was just a period of low cases, so people have been returning to more activities.

“In some combination, those factors are probably what’s driving this increase,” Ferrari said. “What we don’t know, and what we unfortunately never know until after the fact, is how big that increase is going to be, how fast it’s going to escalate and where the peak is going to be.”

Ferrari said communities and individuals can look to lessons from the past and take steps to mitigate risks. That could include masking indoors and opting for gathering outside.

The state Department of Health is now updating its dashboard on a weekly, not daily, basis. As of Wednesday, the state reported a total of 2,877,660 cases since the pandemic began, an increase of 27,997 since last week. There were 1,156 people hospitalized. That number peaked on Jan. 14, when the state reported 7,516 hospitalized COVID patients.

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