The surge in covid-19 cases in Southwestern Pennsylvania is infecting a younger, less vulnerable demographic, and thus far the most recent cases appear to be less severe, doctors at UPMC said Thursday.
The latest cases are mainly linked to younger people who contracted covid-19 after traveling out-of-state or while socializing, said Dr. Graham Snyder, UPMC’s medical director of infection prevention and hospital epidemiology.
“This is the pattern I’m seeing everywhere I look,” Snyder said.
The intensity of the disease in the newest cases also isn’t matching the severity that was seen in the early stages of the pandemic, Snyder said.
Dr. Donald Yealy, UPMC’s senior medical director and chairman of its emergency medicine department, said he’s been impressed with how Allegheny County’s health department has made decisions using what he called a “precision public health approach” to target areas where the disease is likely to spread.
The health department has banned indoor drinking and dining at restaurants and bars in reaction to a surge in cases that started July 1. While the number of positive covid-19 cases have increased, the number of people who require hospitalization hasn’t jumped at the same pace, the UPMC officials said.
As of Thursday, there were 118 people in UPMC hospitals throughout its system and the average age of those patients was 60, Snyder said.
The health system remains prepared for any possible surge in people who need to be hospitalized, Yealy said.
The doctors emphasized the importance of wearing face masks, hand washing, maintaining social distance and avoiding large groups of people as the best ways to prevent spread of the disease.
“We need to keep this up,” Snyder said. “Be so familiar with wearing a mask that you forget to take it off.”
People also need to make sure they’re following the guidelines properly, the UPMC officials said.
“If I can see your nose, I know you’re not wearing it properly,” Tami Minnier, UPMC’s chief quality officer said of masks.
The virus will not be going away anytime soon and treatments and response to it will continue to evolve, Yealy said.
“We know the virus presents a moving target. Our approach is to use the best scientific data to deal with what happens in our communities,” Yealy said.
There are ways amusement parks like Kennywood and Sandcastle can open safely, Yealy said. The parks plan on opening Friday.
Safety depends upon how people comply and enforce those procedures, he said.
People need to answer this question: “How do we adapt and adopt on a daily basis to keep ourselves and our communities safe?” Minnier said.
Tom Davidson is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Tom at 724-226-4715, [email protected] or via Twitter .
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