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COVID-19: 5 Things to Know this Week

BA.2 gains ground, but case totals far below winter peak

April 18, 2022

The “stealth” Omicron subvariant has become the dominant strain of COVID-19, but case counts and hospitalizations remain far below the Omicron surge this winter, federal statistics show.

In Pennsylvania and across the nation, public health leaders are carefully watching the latest data related to case counts, variants, hospitalizations, and other key metrics to track the next steps in the pandemic.

Here are five things to know about the state of the virus in Pennsylvania and across the nation.

  • Stealth variant:  The Omicron BA.2 “stealth” variant accounts for about 85 percent of cases regionally and nationally. Despite increased reports of the Omicron subvariant—and its offshoots—overall transmission remains at the lowest level in all but three Pennsylvania counties (Bradford, Sullivan, and Susquehanna).
  • Deaths nearing one million:  The U.S. is close to a grim milestone as deaths due to COVID-19 approach one million since the pandemic began. There have been 986,123 deaths and the seven-day average for deaths is 373, according to CDC figures.
  • Hospitalizations still low:  The seven-day U.S. average for COVID-19 hospitalizations is 14,768, a 7 percent decline over the past 14 days, according to data updated today. In Pennsylvania, there were 479 patients hospitalized with COVID-19, including 54 in the ICU and 27 on ventilators. This is an increase of nearly 18 percent over the past nine days since reaching the lowest point this spring.
  • Cases rising slightly, far below peak:  The national seven-day average for new cases is over 35,000 and up nearly 37 percent during the last 14 days. This is far below COVID-19’s winter peak, when the seven-day moving average surpassed 800,000, according to CDC data. As of Sunday, Pennsylvania’s seven-day case average was 1,169.
  • Philadelphia’s mask mandate:  In an effort to keep cases low and protect hospital capacity, Philadelphia’s indoor mask mandate went back into effect today. Metrics related to case counts, seven-day averages, and hospitalizations triggered the move to “Level 2” precautions, city officials said last week.

Officials note that case counts have some degree of uncertainty due to the availability of at-home tests, as some positive cases may go unreported to public health agencies.

HAP continues to advocate everyone across the commonwealth stay up to date on their COVID-19 vaccinations, including second booster doses for those who qualify. Staying up to date on your vaccination ensures you have the full protection that vaccines provide.

Additional information about the COVID-19 vaccines, as well as access to free COVID-19 at-home tests and masks, is available online.