See COVID cases by school district. And Erie County hospitalizations near all-time high

·4 min read

Erie hospital officials were hopeful when the delta variant arrived that the availability of COVID-19 vaccines would keep hospitalizations relatively low compared to the surge they experienced in late 2020.

Unfortunately, that hasn't been the case.

Erie County's 14-day moving average of daily COVID-19 hospitalizations rose Friday to 122.5, just a tick below the all-time high of 122.6 reported Dec. 18, 2020, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Health.

It's not that the vaccines are ineffective, said Christopher Clark, D.O., Saint Vincent Hospital president. The problem is that only 53% of Erie County residents are fully vaccinated and the delta variant spreads so easily.

"I can't imagine what the numbers would be like without the vaccines protecting us," Clark said. "An overwhelming majority of our patients (75%) are unvaccinated."

Saint Vincent President Christopher Clark, D.O., said he believes COVID-19 hospitalizations would be much higher if there were no vaccines available.
Saint Vincent President Christopher Clark, D.O., said he believes COVID-19 hospitalizations would be much higher if there were no vaccines available.

Though the daily number of COVID-19 hospitalizations has declined in recent days, the number of new COVID-19 cases has spiked. The Erie County Department of Health reported a record 335 cases Thursday and another 269 cases on Friday.

More: Erie County executive on COVID-19: 'My concern only grows as the numbers rise'

COVID-19 hospitalization trends usually follow new case trends by seven days to 14 days, hospital officials have said.

"I'm assuming we will see a continued increase in hospitalizations," said Emily Shears, vice president of quality for UPMC in northwestern Pennsylvania and New York.

Both UPMC Hamot and Saint Vincent rescheduled elective procedures last week to accommodate the increase in COVID-19 patients.

Number of weekly cases dropped, however

Erie County did experience a decline in new COVID-19 cases last week, though a lack of COVID-19 testing over the Thanksgiving weekend might have contributed — especially when a record-high number of cases was reported Thursday.

The Pennsylvania Department of Health reported 1,185 newly confirmed cases in the county Nov. 26-Dec. 2, compared to 1,489 cases Nov. 19-25. The county's COVID-19 test positivity rate, an indicator of how much virus is in the community, rose during that period from 20.8% to 21.6%.

More: Erie hospital's COVID-19 units: A closer look at the battle to beat the virus

Here is a look at the rest of the county's COVID-19 measurements between Nov. 19-25 and Nov. 26-Dec. 2 from the state health department:

  • The incidence rate of COVID-19 per 100,000 residents decreased from 552 to 439.3.

  • The average daily number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients increased from 118 to 126.

  • The average daily number of COVID-19 patients on ventilators dropped from 16.6 to 10.6.

  • The percentage of emergency department visits due to COVID-19 symptoms rose from 2.6% to 2.7%.

Look at COVID-19 cases by school district

Erie County's number of new COVID-19 cases among children also dropped last week, possibly due to the Thanksgiving weekend.

There were 275 reported Nov. 24-30, including 40 involving children younger than 5 and 275 cases among children ages 5 to 18. A total of 399 cases were reported the previous week, including 355 involving school-age children.

Here is a snapshot of the active COVID-19 cases among students reported Thursday morning by the county's 13 public school districts. The data was either found on a district's website or supplied by district officials.

  • Erie — 64 active cases, 0.47% of all students (based on 2020-21 enrollment)

  • Wattsburg — 48, 3.7%

  • General McLane — 46, 2.23%

  • Millcreek — 39, 0.61%

  • Fairview — 37, 2.05%

  • Fort LeBoeuf — 24, 1.18%

  • Northwestern — 22, 1.71%

  • Girard — 22, 1.42%

  • Iroquois — 19, 1.62%

  • North East — 18, 1.14%

  • Corry — 16, 0.86%

  • Harbor Creek — 10, 0.5%

  • Union City — 5, 0.49%

Matt Bennett, superintendent of the Union City Area School District, said that while his district's number and rate of active cases are low, it is dealing with a significant number of students each week who are quarantined for being a close contact of a positive COVID-19 case.

Twenty-five district students were quarantined last week, including 15 at Union City Elementary School.

"When we get around 10% of students in a building being out of school due to quarantine protocol ... we look at if we are providing the best education possible with that many kids out," Bennett wrote in an email. "We have had to transition a couple of times to synchronous online learning for one school or another, but it has been pretty smooth."

Contact David Bruce at dbruce@timesnews.com. Follow him on Twitter @ETNBruce.

This article originally appeared on Erie Times-News: Erie County's COVID hospitalizations near all-time high. See cases by school district

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