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Coronavirus Cases Continue To Drop In Allegheny County, Yet Delta Variant Poses Threat

Dr. Debra Bogen.
Allegheny County

Allegheny County continues to reap the benefits of a relatively high COVID-19 vaccination rate; more than 65% of residents are at least partially vaccinated.

“We’re back to a time and place where we can celebrate, enjoy being with friends and family, and move really with confidence through the world knowing that we’re protected,” said county health department director Dr. Debra Bogen.

At a Wednesday press conference, Bogen said her department is reporting about 13 new coronavirus cases a day. Data suggest this low number is not the result of under sampling, as now just 1% of the highly sensitive PCR test results are positive for COVID.

Additionally, the number of people with severe COVID illness continues to decline. State data show that on Christmas Day there were more than 6,100 hospitalizations. The current number is fewer than 400.

However, Bogen said that preliminary data show that traditionally underserved populations in Allegheny County, such areas of the Mon Valley and communities of color, have lower vaccination rates.

“We’re working along with community partners to address inequities,” said Bogen, noting that the county is collaborating with the state’s department of health to determine areas of need.

This work is especially important due to the growing threat of the Delta variant, a highly contagious strain of the coronavirus. Bogen said the variant has been circulating in the county for a while, citing two confirmed cases: one in April, the other in May.

“Unfortunately we don't know how many samples were tested. So, I can’t tell you a proportion or rate,” she said. “But again...our cases continue to go down.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the Delta variant now accounts for one in four coronavirus cases in the country.

Because the virus is still here, Bogen said she continues to cover her nose and mouth in certain situations. That’s even though she is fully vaccinated, and the state’s mask mandate expired on Monday.

“When I go indoor to places where I'm not sure who is going to be vaccinated and who’s not, and I’m gonna be there for a while, like a grocery store or a retail store, I do still continue to wear a mask,” she said.

Bogen said when a possibly unvaccinated person comes to her home she masks up, and she asks her guest to do the same. When outside Bogen does not wear a mask.

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.