DAUPHIN COUNTY, Pa. (WHTM) – The nation is seeing a rise in COVID-19 cases fueled by the BA.5 omicron variant. Health officials continue to stress the importance of staying up to date on vaccinations and boosters here in the Midstate.  

While counties in central Pennsylvania remain low, except Juniata and Mifflin, UPMC Doctor John Goldman wants to keep it that way. He says across UPMC’S seven-hospital system, 43 COVID patients are admitted with only one on a ventilator.

While 43 is an increase from 10 patients in the spring, Goldman says he doesn’t think this will have any affect on hospital care or crowding, if people keep themselves protected.

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“What we are seeing is a large number of cases, but the cases are going up much much faster than the hospitalizations and much much faster than the severe disease, so I do not think we’ll be anywhere close to being overwhelmed by this new strain,” said Goldman.

According to the CDC, about 71 million Americans are still completely unvaccinated. Goldman said vaccination and booster shots significantly prevent severe illness, hospitalization, and death.

The new strain is stronger and more contagious, so he advises parents to protect themselves before kids go back to school.

Goldman says come that time, due to infection spreading currently, he doesn’t see masking or social distancing coming back into the classroom.

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