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COVID-19 is not over: Local hospitals seeing an increase in cases

With the recent increase in COVID-19 cases, UPMC is continuing to limit access to its health care facilities to patients, identified and approved support persons, staff and essential vendors.

Dr. Rutul Dalal, medical director, Infectious Diseases, UPMC in North Central Pa., noted 189 patients were being treated for COVID across the health system, including 14 at area UPMC hospitals, which includes those in Williamsport, Muncy, Wellsboro and Coudersport.

Many other people are being tested and treated at home and not requiring hospital services.

“However, we are seeing the increase in cases within the hospitals recently similar to trends from across the commonwealth and nation,” he said. “Our current volumes are much lower than what we experienced in the winter.”

Dulal stressed the importance of people knowing the risks of infection and taking steps to protect themselves such as getting vaccinated, staying away from large, indoor crowds and masking, especially in big gatherings of people.

Vaccinations and boosters remain one of the best ways to continue to fight the spread of infection, he noted.

“We also continue to require people who come to any UPMC facility to wear a face mask that covers their nose and mouth and to practice other prevention efforts like physical distancing, even if they are fully vaccinated,” Dalal said.

Barbara Hemmendinger, of the Lycoming County Health Improvement Coalition and Let’s End COVID, said now is not the time for people to let down their guards.

Much of the state, including Lycoming County, falls under the Centers for Disease Control and Infection’s high community level for COVID.

“We are dealing with Omicron variants which are the most contagious we have ever seen,” she said.

The caveat to that, she said, is that symptoms for many appear to be more mild than with other variants. However, many people can still develop symptoms which persist.

“The CDC is recommending wearing masks indoors,” she said. “It is a recommendation and it is based on science.”

She stressed the need for people to protect themselves and others against infection.

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