coronavirus covid-19 illustration file photo cdc dark background

This illustration, created at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, reveals the structure of the novel coronavirus. The illness caused by this virus is COVID-19.

COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths have continued to rise in Lancaster County, even as the pace of new cases is showing some signs of leveling off after weeks of increases.

Over the past week, the county’s three hospitals have had an average of 75 COVID-19 inpatients, up from 61 the previous week. On Wednesday, the patient count stood at 85. That was the most since late April and about half of the pandemic’s peak of 178 patients last December, the health department data shows.

Deaths have also been on a rise after reaching a pandemic low of just six in July. Deaths began increasing in the second half of August and the quicker pace has continued into September, with eight deaths reported here in the first five days of the month, according to data from Lancaster County’s coroner, Dr. Stephen Diamantoni.

In the 12-day period of Aug. 25 through Sept. 5, the county had 19 COVID-19 deaths, up from just six in the preceding 12 days. After a high of 207 deaths in December, monthly totals were: January, 143; February, 91; March, 30; April, 33; May, 30; June, 9; July, 6; August, 18.

The recently elevated pace of deaths continues, the county could be on track for 40 to 50 COVID-19 deaths in September.

Meanwhile, the daily number of new cases, which began rising in late July, is showing some signs of leveling off after weeks of steady increases.

The county averaged 174 new cases per day over the past week, up only slightly from 171 a week earlier, according to state Department of Health figures. Up until this past week, the rate had been climbing steadily from its pandemic low of fewer than 10 new cases per day in mid-July.

Only about half of the county’s total population is fully vaccinated against the coronavirus, which leaves about a quarter million residents unprotected even as the highly contagious delta variant continues to circulate widely.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has classified Lancaster County as an area of high transmission for coronavirus since early August, and it remains well above the threshold for that label.

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