Western Pennsylvania seeing surge in COVID-19 cases despite climbing vaccination numbers

PITTSBURGH — Nearly 35% of Pennsylvanians have had at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

But the race for protection continues as a new wave of the pandemic appears to be hitting western Pennsylvania.

Last week, Allegheny (584), Washington (108) and Westmoreland (173) counties each saw their highest daily case totals since January.

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So far, COVID-19 related hospitalizations have only risen slightly.

“I think it’s clear we are experiencing yet another surge. I don’t think it will be as serious of a surge as we saw last fall and winter,” said Allegheny Health Network Internal Medicine Physician Dr. Marc Itskowitz.

Health officials continue to emphasize mask wearing, social distancing and hand washing as we inch closer to the “end” of the pandemic.

Even with the latest wave of infections primarily impacting younger people, Itskowitz remains concerned.

“When you start getting cases in the thousands, even if a small percentage of those cases results in hospitalization, it can still be very severe,” he said. “People need to understand that if they have not yet been vaccinated, this is a dangerous part of the pandemic.”

Itskowitz told Channel 11 the next few weeks will be critical, and that our region is probably six to eight weeks away from a point at which we will feel much more confident.

Pennsylvania’s Acting health Secretary Alison Beam said last week there are no plans to implement additional restrictions, and the onus now falls on individuals to make smart decisions.