The Thanksgiving holiday usually comes during a surge in respiratory virus transmission as people spend more time indoors. But this fall so far has bucked that trend in terms of COVID-19 cases.
The Pennsylvania Department of Health reported 10,052 additional coronavirus cases this week, compared to 9,953 last week. The seven-day moving average of newly reported cases was 1,436 per day, almost unchanged from the previous week, and down 18.3% over the past 30 days.
To date, there have been 3.35 million infections nationwide.
The past two weeks have seen the lowest additional case counts in seven months – when the state averaged about 1,350 cases a day in the third week of April.
The contours of the pandemic are markedly different from those of a year ago, as variants wax and wane and generally cause less severe disease, particularly in the vaccinated and boosted, than pre-omicron strains. Last year’s fall spike coincided with Omicron’s overwhelming ability to infect and re-infect humans, resulting in case numbers more than five times higher than the latest figures from the Department of Health.
While last year saw wave after wave of cases beginning in August, 2022 has seen a general decline in case counts since midsummer, to the point where the state and the Lehigh Valley are below the threshold for high virus transmission — more each than 100 cases per week 100,000 population.
The Lehigh Valley is just below that threshold — 97.4 population-adjusted cases per week — while the state is significantly lower at 78.5 weekly cases per 100,000 people. Pennsylvania fell below the national rate last week for the first time since September.
The latest figures for the nation will not be released until the end of the week.
The latest Omicron mutations, designated BQ.1 and BQ.1.1, are responsible for about half of all new infections reported in the multistate health region, which includes Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia and the District of Columbia , appeared. The formerly dominant BA.5 strain contributes to less than one in four new infections, according to the latest data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In the past week, 91 additional deaths have been reported so far, compared to 101 last week and 124 two weeks ago. Pennsylvania has recorded 48,271 deaths as of March 2020. Last week’s numbers are generally lower as death certificates are still being filed by local officials and reviewed by public health workers.
Like case counts, COVID-related deaths are not in line with previous seasonal waves, but are hovering at about 120 Pennsylvanians dying each week. That’s about a tenth the rate of last January and 13 times fewer weekly COVID deaths than in January 2021, before mass vaccinations began.
The latest data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows:
There are 9.26 million fully vaccinated people in Pennsylvania, which is 72.3% of the population. Another 2.19 million people need their follow-up vaccine. A total of 26.30 million shots were fired into the arms of 11.44 million people, or 89.4% of the state’s residents.
Included in these statewide numbers are 496,304 Lehigh Valley residents who are fully vaccinated, representing 73.6% of the local population. A total of 582,467 locals received 1,282,479 shots in the arm, representing 86.3% of the valley’s population.
According to CDC data, Pennsylvania residents receive an average of 3,323 vaccinations each day. Of these, 408 are first doses. The total number of vaccinations per day has decreased by 29% in the last 30 days. The number of first doses given each day has decreased by 30.5% over the past 30 days.
About 1.5 million bivalent boosters — designed to be effective against the original strain of coronavirus as well as the Omicron variant — have been administered to Pennsylvania residents aged five and older, representing less than 13% of the eligible population.
The highest acceptance is found in the senior population, but less than a third of seniors have taken the new boosters from Moderna or Pfizer. Overall, less than 13% of eligible Residents received the new boosters.
According to the latest report, 1,129 people were hospitalized, with 144 in intensive care and 54 on ventilators. Nationwide hospital admissions are down 8.4% over the past week and 10% over the past 30 days.
Hospitals in the Lehigh Valley reported 45 COVID-19 patients, including 14 in intensive care and six on ventilators. Local hospital admissions are down 4% over the past week and 10% over the past 30 days.
Cases: 657 additional case reports including 347 in Lehigh County, 310 in Northampton County. That brings the total to 200,316.
Deaths: Six new deaths (six in Lehigh County and zero in Northampton County. That brings the total to 2,506 (1,320 in Lehigh and 1,186 in Northampton).