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Jan. 14—Any hopes for a quick end to the omicron avalanche in Berks County ran up against an 1,128-cases-and-reinfections day in the Friday update of the Pennsylvania Department of Health pandemic dashboard.
It took the No. 7 spot on the worst-case-days list and ran the pandemic case total past 90,000 to 90,546. Berks crossed the 80,000 threshold on Jan. 5 and the 70,000 level on Dec. 16.
The seven-day case average for Berks dipped Friday to 1,099. The 14-day case average continued to rise, setting a pandemic record for the 17th straight day at 1,012.
The 14-day case average represents January to date.
The averages smooth the uneven processing of test results. The update is a composite of the previous day's statistics, in this case Thursday.
In Berks, another 175 people who had previously tested negative flipped to positive in the Friday update, or about 1-in-6 of the case total.
Those are residents who had only tested negative before.
Pennsylvania overall Friday had nearly the same number of cases and reinfections as the Thursday update at 26,610, and the pandemic total reached slightly more than 2.4 million.
About a tenth of the daily total, 2,600 people, flipped from negative to positive.
Berks had 4.2% of the state's cases Friday. At 429,000 residents, Berks has 3.3% of the state's residents.
In new statewide data, the number of tests processed set a pandemic record last Saturday at 84,623.
There was no evidence of a waning omicron nationally, with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showing the highest seven-day case average of the pandemic at 782,765.
More daily statistics
—7: COVID deaths of Berks residents.
—1,404: Pandemic total of COVID deaths of Berks residents.
—173: COVID deaths across Pennsylvania.
—38,426: COVID pandemic deaths across Pa.
—232: COVID patients hospitalized in Berks.
—21: ICU count
—154: total COVID patients at Reading Hospital; 98 not vaccinated and 56 vaccinated.
—16: Reading Hospital COVID ICU count; 11 and 5, respectively.
—26: Reading Hospital COVID discharges in 24 hours.
—3: Reading Hospital COVID deaths in 24 hours.
—7,516: COVID hospitalizations statewide, a record.
—1,157: The ICU count statewide, a record.
St. Luke's responds
The Lehigh Valley-based St. Luke's health system fired a verbal salvo this week at "the recent public narrative that most hospitalized COVID inpatients tested positive for the coronavirus incidentally only after being admitted to the hospital for other reasons."
Approximately 80% of COVID-positive patients currently in 11 St. Luke's University Health Network hospitals in Pennsylvania and New Jersey were admitted because of COVID. The network said it conducted an internal analysis.
"We want to set the record straight," said Jeffrey Jahre, a health system executive. "St. Luke's as a national leader in COVID care took the initiative to study this issue and share its findings with the public that the omicron variant is indeed a serious health threat. It is putting an enormous strain on the country's public health infrastructure and is disrupting life throughout the nation."
Another ER appeal
The Hospital and Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania issued a statement Friday urging people who need testing for COVID to not clog emergency rooms in hospitals.
Other entities have issued similar appeals.
The group said appropriate testing options for people who are not experiencing COVID symptoms include:
—Mass testing sites such as the one in Bern Township, which will be operational through the end of the month. It is in the parking of DirectLink Technologies, 2561 Bernville Road.
—Privately operated testing services and sites
—For people experiencing mild-to-moderate COVID-19 symptoms, testing is also available at many urgent care centers and community health centers.
"Pennsylvania hospitals are strained — with many at or approaching capacity —due a combination of rising COVID-19 cases, the flu and other seasonal illnesses, a severe health care staffing shortage, and an influx of patients requiring more intensive care due to care being delayed earlier in the pandemic," the group's statement said.
COVID In Berks
1,128: new cases and reinfections
90,546: pandemic total
1,012: 14-day average
1,404: pandemic deaths, state
1,295: pandemic deaths, coroner
21: ICU count
239,625: fully vaccinated (CDC)
Worst case days
1,465: Jan. 31, 2021; dump of backlogged cases.
1,319: Jan 9, 2022
1,253: Jan 10, 2022
1,211: Jan. 8, 2022
1,178: Jan. 5, 2022
1,143: Jan. 7, 2022
1,128: Jan. 14, 2022
1,023: Jan. 6, 2022
980: Jan. 12, 2022
935: Jan. 1, 2022