Williamsport ranks 19 in highest infection rate

Williamsport is entering Christmas week as the 19th highest infection rate in the United States, according to CNN reporting data from The New York Times.

Lycoming County clocked in 92 new cases on Sunday, adding to a county lifetime total of 4,746 cases in the county. In the past week, the county has added 929 cases to its numbers; or, the county’s cases have increased by 24.34%, according to data from the Pennsylvania Department of Health. Lycoming County added 162 new cases to its count last Sunday, Dec. 13.

As of Sunday, Lycoming County has a daily average of 143 cases, with 126 cases per 100,000 people, according to data from the New York Times.

Meanwhile, there are 77 patients hospitalized by COVID-19 in the county, 15 in the ICU and 8 on ventilators.

Across the state, 6,147 individuals were hospitalized due to COVID-19, while 1232 patients are in an ICU with COVID-19, according to the health department. Most of these patients are older than 65, and most deaths occurred with patients older than 65.

The trend in 14-day moving average numbers of hospitalized patients per day increased by 5,400 since the end of September, according to the health department.

At the state level, new COVID-19 mitigation orders emerged from Gov. Tom Wolf’s office on Dec. 10. The efforts include prohibiting all in-person indoor dining at retail food service industry, ending indoor operations at gyms and entertainment venues, prohibiting indoor gathers of more than 10 people and outdoor gatherings of more than 50 people.

Additionally, the measures included suspending in-person extracurricular activities and pausing all sports at K-12 public schools and disallowing in-person spectators from professional and collegiate sports.

The measures came from the governor’s office a day after he tested positive for COVID-19; although during the press conference he announced the new measures during, he said he had tested negative.

“We know that COVID-19 thrives in places where people gather together,” Gov. Wolf said. “Therefore, these mitigation measures target high-risk environments and activities and aim to reduce the spread of this devastating virus.”

The county has felt the impact, to be sure. The Lycoming County Courthouse restricted access into its facilities on Dec. 10, and requires visitors to obtain prior authorization from the court or county office they wish to visit to enter the building.

Meanwhile, as county residents look forward to a reprieve from bad news associated with the pandemic, local churches are finding creative ways to provide worship experiences while mitigating the pandemic. The First United Methodist Church is using a recorded worship experience with live hosts Dec. 23 and 24, while the Community Baptist Church will present a drive-thru Christmas experience, depicting different scenes. Finally, the Pine Street United Methodist Church is planning two services on Christmas Eve.

Finally, the first round of Pfizer vaccines have been deployed across the state. Hospital frontliners most at-risk caring for victims of the virus are the first to receive a vaccine that will be released to the general public when supplies become available, issuing a statement of hope for those wishing to leave the pandemic in 2020.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention encouraged families to limit gatherings to their immediate household, and to consider virtual celebrations for loved ones who live separately.

“This holiday season, consider how your holiday plans can be modified to reduce the spread of COVID-19 to keep your friends, families, and communities healthy and safe,” The CDC said in an announcement on its website Dec. 11.


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