Over the past several days, Allegheny County has seen an increased number of COVID-19 cases after several weeks of steady decline.
Dr. Lee Harrison, professor of medicine and epidemiology at the University of Pittsburgh, emphasized that trends like these are normally examined over several weeks rather than several days. While it’s still too early to determine if this is indicative of a potential surge, Harrison identified two potential contributors to this rise in cases.
“One factor could be that we are not following public health guidelines as closely as we need to be, including masking, social distancing, hand washing and avoiding large gatherings,” said Harrison. “We are also starting to see more of the U.K. variant in the county, which is associated with higher rates of transmission. The rise in cases could be attributed to either of these factors, or a combination of both.”
Harrison is hopeful that increasing vaccination rates, particularly among the most vulnerable populations, will reduce the levels of hospitalizations and deaths compared to the surge during the winter months.
“COVID-19 can be a life-altering or life-ending infection, so we cannot let our guard down yet,” Harrison cautioned. “The vaccines available to us right now are highly effective against the U.K. variant, so we must continue our mitigation efforts and encourage everyone to get vaccinated when it’s their turn. If we do that, we will be able to beat this.”
Eligible members of the community are encouraged to register at Vaccine.UPMC.com to be contacted for future vaccination events. UPMC is contacting registrants to schedule appointments as quickly as vaccine becomes available.