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COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are rising in Pennsylvania

A chart showing the increases and decreases in the number of people hospitalized for COVID-19 in Pennsylvania in the past year.
This chart from the state Department of Health shows the number of COVID-19 patients hospitalized in Pennsylvania, using the moving average of the past 14 days. Cases and hospitalizations have been increasing in May 2022, but have not reached the levels seen earlier in the year.

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.

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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