The number of COVID-19 cases have fallen in Berks County and across Pennsylvania and the nation in the past week, but another week will be needed to tell if the typical dip in processing of tests during a three-day holiday weekend, in this case Memorial Day, had something to do with it.
After eight weeks of gains of COVID cases and reinfections in the second omicron surge, the trend was down for Berks and the state in the latest Early Warning Monitoring Dashboard from the Pennsylvania Department of Health and nationally from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
• Berks: Down 157 cases from the prior week
• Pennsylvania: Down 5,731 cases from the prior week
• U.S.: Seven day average down 10% from second omicron peak
The other key metrics are case rates and positivity rates:
• Berks: 115 infections per 100,000 residents and 16.8%.
• Pa.: 140 infections per 100,000 and 15.8%.
The national rates were not readily available.
For Berks and Pennsylvania all metrics were down.
Berks has had a case rate below the state’s during the entire second omicron surge, and it was the second week the positivity rate was higher than the state average.
Berks continues in the moderate risk designation for COVID in the latest CDC daily update. Three of the counties adjoining Berks — Lehigh, Chester and Schuylkill — have dropped from high risk to moderate risk, leaving only Montgomery with a high-risk designation.
The counties to the west, Lebanon and Lancaster, have not moved off the low-risk designation the entire second omicron surge.
Pennsylvania dropped daily updates on May 4 and went to weekly Wednesday updates of its main COVID dashboard and monthly press releases about cases, hospitalizations, deaths and vaccinations.
By Saturday, the CDC has more recent numbers than the state, and those showed hospitalizations continuing to increase.
In CDC stats, Berks had reached 47 admissions in the previous week.
The count of COVID deaths of Berks residents is 1,603, with COVID deaths recorded in Berks at 1,465.
Hundreds of Berks residents have died outside the county and a lesser number of nonresidents have died in Berks. The exact numbers are no longer tracked.
In another weekly update, second boosters and fourth shots for the immunocompromised continued to be the main driver of vaccinations.
For Berks, there were 16,484 residents in that category, up about 1,400 in a week.
That was more than double the other categories combined: completion of the initial two-dose treatment to be considered fully vaccinated and first boosters or third shots for the immunocompromised.
Officials are concerned that the protection of vaccines wane, leaving those who aren’t up to date increasingly open to infection.
Hospitalized statistics in Berks bear that out with at least as many considered vaccinated hospitalized as not vaccinated.
However, the third omicron derivative driving the current surge, BA.2.12.1, is also more resistant to vaccines plus few people are wearing masks and social distancing.
The national picture
According to the CDC, BA.2.12.1 continues to be the dominant source of COVID in the country. It had already been the main case driver in the mid-Atlantic for three weeks.
The second derivative of omicron, BA.2, remains the other significant source of cases. But the first offspring of omicron has been staging a comeback.
BA.1.1.529, as it is called, rebounded from being nearly squeezed out of existence to making up 6.1% of the cases nationally.
That resurgence is most pronounced in the heartland.
Nationally, the seven-day case average has about quadrupled since bottoming out after the initial omicron blitz but recently trending down, according to the CDC.
The latest seven-day average is 99,289 cases, down from the second omicron surge high of 110,387 on May 26, according to the CDC. The 2022 low point in the seven-day average was 24,843 on March 29.
Source: Berkshire mont