DAUPHIN COUNTY, Pa. (WHTM) — In late January, Pennsylvania has seen a significant drop in COVID-19 cases and COVID-19 hospitalizations, signaling a possible slowdown of the recent Omicron surge.
“We’re hoping to see that fall continue,” Dr. John Goldman, UPMC infectious disease specialist, said.
It is an encouraging trend, but health systems said now is not the time to let our guard down.
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“It’s important to assess your risk,” Goldman said. “And assess the risk of those around you.”
Goldman also said the decline in cases and hospitalizations could be a sign the Midstate is past the worst part of the Omicron surge.
“Now, it’s running out of people who are not immune, either through vaccination or natural infection,” he said.
However, moving past the peak does not mean the state has reached the end. According to the Hospital Association of Pennsylvania, the number of people hospitalized for COVID-19 is still more than 2.5 times the average number over the course of the pandemic.
“It’s at about the same high level that it was for a good portion of last winter,” Goldman said of UPMC’s hospitalizations.
At WellSpan, COVID-19 hospitalizations dropped about 25% in just over two weeks, but its numbers are still similar to last winter’s surge. The strain is forcing WellSpan to postpone other procedures.
The good news is Goldman thinks this could be the last major surge of the pandemic. He said by spring or summer, the virus could fade to a lower level.
“It’ll become a disease that looks, that probably is seasonal like the flu,” he said.
However, the recent trends do not change Goldman’s message that everyone should get vaccinated.
“Even when you’re young and healthy, you can still get severely ill and still die. Most of our deaths have been young, healthy people recently,” he said.