Covid Cases Continue to Drop in Allegheny County While The Number of Deaths Remains High

January was the deadliest month since last winter’s surge, before vaccines were widely available.
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PHOTO BY DAVE DICELLO

The number of COVID cases in Allegheny County, while high, continues to drop, suggesting that the end is coming to the omicron surge. 

The Allegheny County Health Department reported Tuesday that there were 10,455 new infections between Jan. 23-29. This is down from last week, when there were 11,821 new cases, and less than half of the week before, which saw a whopping 22,326.

Deaths and hospitalizations remain high, however. This week, there were 80 reported deaths and 580 hospitalizations, up from last week’s 72 deaths and 495 hospitalizations.

In the weekly press briefing Wednesday, county health department director Debra Bogen said there is “a measured cause for optimism.” Daily case counts have dropped for the past three weeks — the county is currently sitting at around 1,000 new infections per day, which is lower than any daily number since mid-December.

“Deaths, however, remain tragically and unnecessarily high,” Bogen said. 

With 236 deaths so far this year, January has been the deadliest month since the surge around the New Year from 2020 to 2021, before vaccines were available. 

“This is a true tragedy,” Bogen said. “Many of the people died prematurely from what has now become primarily a vaccine-preventable death. I want to be clear that these are 236 real people like you and me, members of our community. They are grandparents, parents, children, aunts and uncles, friends and neighbors.”

Bogen once again stressed the importance of vaccines, also addressing myths that the vaccine could negatively impact fertility and pregnancy. 

County officials were joined by Keara Klinepeter, acting secretary of health for Pennsylvania. Klinepeter stressed the importance of continuing to make the right public health decisions, including masking up, getting vaccinated, getting a booster dose and staying home if you’re sick. Klinepeter recently announced her own pregnancy — and said that she has received both the initial COVID-19 shots and a booster dose.

“Only 42% of pregnant people in the U.S. are fully vaccinated, according to the CDC,” Bogen said. “We really need to improve that number. Vaccines are safe for pregnant people, and they are also life-saving for mother and baby.”

Bogen cited a recent study in Scotland that found that pregnant people are half as likely to be vaccinated, but when pregnant people contracted COVID-19, those who were not vaccinated suffered worse outcomes. 

“I also want to address the myth that vaccines impact fertility,” Bogen continued. “That is absolutely false.” 

She also cited a recent study that found men who contracted COVID-19 are more likely to suffer from short-term infertility for 60 days post-infection.

“In other words, COVID infection, not the vaccine, may have a short-term impact on male fertility,” Bogen said.

Categories: The 412