cases, but not much

The Pennsylvania Department of Health’s COVID-19 Dashboard weekly report shows a slowdown in the growth rate of cases and reinfections for Berks County and Pennsylvania in the second Omicron surge.

However, COVID hospitalizations continued to increase from the previous week and four Berks resident deaths were reported, the most in a week since the second week of March.

Berks had 913 new COVID cases and reinfections, up slightly from 876 in the May 18 report.

That’s a seven-day moving average of 130 cases, the highest since early February, and 128 for the 14-day moving average, the highest since mid-February.

Daily updates stopped after May 4th. The weekly case update is cumulative for the week ended Tuesday.

The first weekly update showed Berks with 513 cases.

The third Omicron derivative, BA.2.12.1, continues to be the dominant force in COVID in the mid-Atlantic. But like its parents and siblings, it is less lethal than the previous Greek-letter variants.

The averages smooth out the uneven processing of tests and provide a trend that has been upward over the past seven weeks.

The number of people hospitalized with COVID in Berks rose to 36, up 10 from May 18, up eight from May 11. Of the 36, four were in intensive care and three were on ventilators.

The only bright spot was that the number of ventilators had fallen from seven in the May 11 report.

The number of hospitalizations is not accumulated for the week. It’s a snapshot of the situation on Tuesday. The health department dashboard does not provide peaks and troughs of hospitalizations between weekly updates.

The last time many people were in Berks hospitals was February 21, and at that time three were in intensive care and two on ventilators, similar to the current count.

Tower Health continues to release a weekly COVID update for its facilities which showed Reading Hospital with 20 COVID patients admitted or under surveillance and eight discharges in the last 24 hours.

This dashboard is also not cumulative and only a snapshot of the situation during the week.

The 20 patients were divided evenly between vaccinated and non-vaccinated patients. The patient in the intensive care unit was vaccinated, as was the one patient on a ventilator.

The vaccination label applies when someone has finished the single-shot but rarely given Johnson & Johnson product or the two-dose Pfizer or Moderna vaccines. The vaccination label is sticky regardless of how long ago the vaccinations were given.

Health experts have been alarmed by the number of people who may be more vulnerable due to gaps in ongoing vaccinations, and the latest strain of Omicron is more resistant to the available vaccines.

The number of COVID deaths of Berks residents by the health department increased by four to 1,601 in a week. It was unclear if these deaths occurred in Berks or elsewhere.

The county coroner’s office has not reported a death since May 16, and the death toll in Berks remains at 1,457. But the state is slower to respond. It seems likely that most of the four deaths were not at Berks.

CDC Statistics

Additional statistics for Berks County available Wednesday from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention daily update include:

• 25: COVID hospitalizations in the past week

• 19.5%: positivity rate, highest of the second omicron rise

• Risk: Moderate

• 257,696: Fully vaccinated, more than 600 in one week

• 114,340: Total number of booster and additional vaccinations administered, an increase of approximately 700 in one week

The Berks population is 429,000. The CDC does not differentiate between first and second booster shots, or between additional shots for the immunocompromised.

Pa’s numbers

A compilation of COVID statistics available across the state and CDC across Pennsylvania as a whole:

• 4,364: Daily drop average over the past week, slightly up.

• 23 counties are now considered high-risk counties, including Lehigh, Montgomery and Chester, which are adjacent to Berks.

• 17 counties are now considered moderate risk, including Berks and its neighbor to the north, Schuylkill.

• 1,286: Number of hospital admissions, more than triple the low from early April and 130 more than a week ago.

• 181: COVID intakes last week, up slightly.

• 151: Number in ICU, up 16 in one week.

• 67: deaths in one week, down 13.

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