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Delta Variant Likely Causing Rise In COVID Cases In Allegheny County And Pennsylvania

Mary Altaffer

State and local coronavirus cases are again on the rise, an increase that’s likely due to the Delta variant.

The more infectious coronavirus strain has been circulating in Allegheny County since at least March, according to county health officials. Despite this fact, cases have continued to fall in the Pittsburgh region for several months.

But from July 9-15 there were 132 newly confirmed coronavirus cases in Allegheny County, which is more than double the number of cases reported during the previous week.

The percent of positive results from coronavirus tests is going up too. Among the highly accurate PCR tests, 1.9% of samples came back positive for the virus, which is nearly double the rate that was seen last month.

Statewide, confirmed cases and PCR tests are also on the rise. From July 9-15, 1480 Pennsylvanians were infected with the virus. That’s a nearly 40% from the previous week. The PCR rate grew from 1.2% to 1.7%.

Hospitalizations across the state are on the decline. But these markers of severe illness usually start to rise a few weeks after an increase in case numbers.

While there are instances of fully vaccinated people getting the coronavirus, the overwhelming majority of COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths in the US are now among unvaccinated people. For this reason, public health and medical officials continue to urge people to get the COVID vaccine.

Nationwide, 48.6% of the total population is vaccinated. In Pennsylvania and Allegheny County the rates are 51.3% and 54.6% respectively.

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. As a contributor to the NPR-Kaiser Health News Member Station Reporting Project on Health Care in the States, Sarah's print and audio reporting frequently appears on NPR and KFF Health News.