As COVID cases surge in Pa., experts say there’s no need to lockdown

Coronavirus in Pennsylvania

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — More and more Pennsylvanians are getting vaccinated every day, While thousands of others are testing positive for COVID-19 at the same time.

While it’s a troubling trend, state health officials and infectious disease experts agree there’s no need to lockdown again. But they also agree, we do need to be careful.

As Pennsylvania businesses continue to inch closer to a return to normal, many are worried about what the recent spike in COVID cases will mean for them.

“What we’re seeing is cases shift in demographics to younger people, people who are more likely to be risk-tolerant and also most likely not to have been vaccinated yet because vaccine rollout has been slow to get to those groups,” said Dr. Amesh Adalja, senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security and a Pittsburgh based infectious disease, critical care and emergency medicine physician.

Nursing homes were a massive concern early in the pandemic. Cases have dropped 97% among long-term care residents, but the Pennsylvania Health Care Association is still worried.

“As we see the surge throughout Pennsylvania, that could have a direct effect on our most vulnerable and their providers of care,” said Zach Shamberg, president and CEO of the Pennsylvania Health Care Association.

The association surveyed 83 of its members and says 5% of residents and staff are still waiting to get vaccines after the federal pharmacy partnership ended.

“The troubling news is that we do not have a way to continue to vaccinate new residents and then new staff members that our providers are hiring,” Shamberg said.

But an encouraging sign, Adalja said is hospital capacity.

“They are nowhere near crisis standards. They are nowhere near what they were during the winter, so I do not think any kind of shutdown is justified,” Adalja said.

But he says COVID is not going away and people need to still be cautious, especially if they’re not vaccinated.

“I think that we’re in good shape and (on) a good trajectory so long as we continue to vaccinate at the rate that we’re doing,” Adalja said.

Adalja says the solution is to keep getting people vaccinated as quickly as possible, and for anyone who’s been exposed to COVID to get tested, so they don’t spread it to others.

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