Allegheny County officials say county has moved into “substantial” COVID spread, driven by the Delta variant | Coronavirus | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Allegheny County officials say county has moved into “substantial” COVID spread, driven by the Delta variant

click to enlarge Rich Fitzgerald at a COVID briefing in Point State Park in November  2020 - CP PHOTO: NARDOS HAILE
CP photo: Nardos Haile
Rich Fitzgerald at a COVID briefing in Point State Park in November 2020
Allegheny County Health Department director Dr. Debra Bogen said during a press conference on Aug. 4 that the county’s COVID-19 cases have been increasing significantly, and the increase is primarily being driven by the Delta variant. Bogen said that hospitalizations have also climbed, and those are primarily composed of unvaccinated individuals.

“The CDC tracks variants across the country. In our region, they estimate that more than two thirds of cases are the Delta variant,” Bogen said.

Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald and Bogen held a public briefing on Aug. 4 to discuss the rising positive cases of COVID-19 and how the Delta variant is affecting the country’s vaccinated and unvaccinated populations.


Those with the Delta variant have high viral loads in the respiratory system causing the virus to replicate and spread more quickly when exposed from breathing, coughing, and sneezing.

Bogen stated that Allegheny County has moved from a moderate to substantial transmission rate of the coronavirus, as more than 100 plus probable positive cases are confirmed per day. The PCR rate, percentage of people who test positive for the virus, has climbed from 2.7% to 3.7% this week.

Bogen added that hospitalization rates have increased, and most of those cases are those who are unvaccinated. Although those who are fully vaccinated are still at risk to get the virus, the vaccination helps prevent hospitalization and fatality.

“Our goal is to prevent it from spreading further in effort to keep our community safe,” Bogen said.


In regards to mask mandates and other mitigation measures, Fitzgerald said they are not being considered at this time, but the ACHD recommends people to follow CDC guidelines. Bogen said she supports the CDC’s recommendation of indoor masking including children in preschool and K-12 schools.

“We don't know the long term effects of the virus on health and development, and children can spread the virus to others,” Bogen said.

Bogen discussed a recent coronavirus outbreak in Cape Cod, Massachusetts to explain the importance of the vaccine for those vaccinated and unvaccinated.

The outbreak in Cape Cod happened in early July after numerous large and crowded indoor and outdoor events. The Massachusetts Department of Health confirmed 469 positive cases, and 364 of those cases were vaccinated.

Of the 364 vaccinated individuals, 274 reported mild symptoms of the virus like a cough, headache, sore throat, muscle pain, and fever. Massachusetts has a 70% vaccination rate. With mitigation strategies and a high number of vaccinated individuals, the spread of cases were reduced and percent positivity declined quickly. Only seven people were hospitalized and no deaths occurred during the outbreak.


The ACHD will continue to hold briefings weekly rather than biweekly to discuss COVID-19 updates. The next briefing is Wed., Aug. 11.

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