Health Department: ‘We are now back where we were in mid-January’ as COVID-19 cases continue rise

PITTSBURGH — Officials with the Allegheny County Health Department continue to warn that COVID-19 cases are still rising across the board.

“We have the foundation for a surge which is borne out in our case counts this week,” said Director Dr. Debra Bogen. “We are now back where we were in mid-January.”

Bogen said the county’s positivity rate is up from last week: there are now more than 400 new cases being reported each day and hospitalizations have been on the rise since the end of February. She said there are now more than 100 county residents who are being hospitalized each week for the coronavirus.

She said last year long-term care facilities accounted for a majority of new cases. Now, they only account for about 15% of cases because of how many people age 65 and older have now been vaccinated. Bogen said there are reported outbreaks among high school and college sports programs. She referenced an outbreak related to a large party among children that took place outside of school, at which there were no masks worn and no social distancing. Bogen said at least one elementary school in the area had closed due to COVID-19.

“The only way this pandemic will subside is if we all adhere to the tried-and-true mitigation strategies,” she said.

Bogen added that ACHD is finalizing staffing agreements to open a new vaccination clinic in McKeesport. She said there will be an announcement about that location in the coming weeks once everything is set up.

COVID-19 Weekly Briefing Starting at 4:00 pm

Posted by Allegheny County Health Department on Wednesday, March 31, 2021

A new vaccine registration system is also going to be open to the public by the end of the week. Bogen said it’s being used internally by clinics right now. She said it’s easier for everyone to use and she encourages people to register regardless of when they’ll be eligible to receive the vaccine.

Bogen was asked about the concerning news out of Pitt’s campus in Oakland where COVID-19 was “now widespread across 13 residence halls.” She said there is widespread community spread of the virus across the region and it’s not just happening on one particular college campus or at one particular school.