Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Omicron surge continues to wane in Allegheny County

Katie Blackley
90.5 WESA
The Allegheny County Health Department reports the viral loads found in the sampling of wastewater are at levels last seen in early November.

Fewer than 200 new cases of COVID-19 were reported in Allegheny County on Wednesday, continuing the rapid decline in daily case numbers.

Most of the cases are assumed to be caused by the omicron variant, which spurred the recent COVID-19 surge. In early January, the county averaged more than 3,000 new cases a day.

The prevalence of at-home tests might be part of the reason case counts are dropping; these results are less likely to be shared with public health officials. However, the county’s health department director, Dr. Debra Bogen, notes other metrics show things are trending in a positive direction.

“Like cases, hospitalizations also continue to decline,” said Bogen. “Which is great news for our dedicated health care providers who have had a very challenging few months.”

Statewide and nationally, cases and hospitalizations are also down.

Additionally, the percentage of positive results from COVID-19 tests in the county has fallen to below 15%; it was at 35% in January. And the health department reports the viral loads found in the sampling of wastewater are at levels last seen in early November.

The county says it’s working on an online dashboard to publish its sewage analysis data, which arguably gives a more accurate picture of COVID-19’s local impact than the number of positive test results.

The impacts of the recent surge have been devastating. So far, the health department says it’s aware of 284 COVID-19 fatalities among county residents in January, making last month the third most deadly of the pandemic.

December 2020 was the worst with some 600 deaths, followed by January 2021, which saw nearly 370 deaths.

The fatality rate in January 2022 was lower in part due to the COVID-19 illness caused by omicron being less severe than previous coronavirus variants. But also the COVID-19 vaccines are highly effective at protecting against serious illness and death.

Sarah Boden covers health and science for 90.5 WESA. Before coming to Pittsburgh in November 2017, she was a reporter for Iowa Public Radio where she covered a range of issues, including the 2016 Iowa Caucuses.