Allegheny County officials credit increase in COVID-19 infections to omicron variant

ALLEGHENY COUNTY, Pa. — Allegheny County Health Department officials remain concerned with the growing number of COVID cases in the county, and are crediting the increase to the omicron variant.

“The daily positivity rate continues to climb alarmingly, and a significant number of those cases are in people exhibiting no symptoms,” said Dr. Debra Bogen, Director of the Allegheny County Health Department. “This is why it’s imperative to wear a properly fitting mask when out in public, especially indoors.”

Since December 27, there have been more than 4,000 new positive cases in the county. This week alone, more than 17,000 Allegheny County residents have been tested for COVID-19.

“That significant rise only underscores the message that we provided earlier this week about the spread of the omicron variant,” said Dr. Bogen.

“I again ask everyone to take this seriously and do their part to slow the spread of this virus. Get your vaccines or your booster vaccine,” Dr. Bogen said. “Wear a properly fitting, quality mask and consider double masking by wearing a surgical mask covered by a cloth mask, two surgical masks, or a KN95 mask. Practice physical distancing. If you are sick, stay home. Get tested if you are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms. If you have been a close contact of someone who has tested positive for COVID, get tested 5-7 days after that exposure.

This surge is forcing businesses, bars and restaurants to close because of COVID-19 cases among employees or to make tough decisions to keep people safe.

The owners of Two Frays Brewery in Garfield said in the interest of keeping their employees and the community healthy, they closed their taproom temporarily.

“Seeing the spikes after the holiday, we figured it would be much safer to close for a few days,” Jennifer Onofray told Channel 11. “Since then, we’ve seen other businesses close around us or have to close because of outbreaks.”

Onofray has been serving customers curbside and will do the same for New Year’s Eve. But, for a brewery relying on alcohol sales, it’s going to hurt their bottom line.

“We want to be here for the community for the long run, so a few days will hurt us, but in the long run, ultimately the best decision,” Onofray added.

Doctors are also encouraging folks to curb their New Year’s Eve plans. While Allegheny County reported more than 4-thousand COVID-19 cases since December 27, case counts are actually higher.

“A lot of people are taking the at-home tests and we have to remember those aren’t necessarily reported so we probably are seeing even higher numbers,” Dr. Brian Lamb with Allegheny Health Network told Channel 11 News. “I know everyone wanted to go big to ring in the new year, but it’s not the year,” he said.

Testing appointments can be made here.

Vaccine information can be found here.

A look at the case count in Allegheny County can be found here.