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As BA.5 omicron variant spreads, hospitals across Central PA aren't seeing a rise in hospitalizations

Despite spike in COVID-19 cases, Dr. John Goldman with UPMC says they aren't seeing a high rate of hospitalizations and deaths among COVID-19 patients.
Credit: WPMT

HARRISBURG, Pa. — New COVID-19 strains continue to pop up throughout the country.

The recent ones as of late are BA.4 and BA.5, new variants of omicron.

"What we're seeing is variants of omicron that are more contagious than omicron itself begin replacing omicron," said Dr. John Goldman, Infectious Disease Expert for UPMC.

Goldman calls these strains advanced omicron. They're contributing to more COVID-19 cases across the country, with about 100,000 new cases per day.

"Because people have been vaccinated, because people have been infected previously, we are not seeing the same degree of hospitalizations," he explained.

Despite the spike in cases, he says, hospitals aren't seeing high rates of death among COVID-19 patients.

Among the seven hospitals across the UPMC hospital system, Goldman says they only have five cases of COVID-19 patients.

That's immensely low compared to the peak of last winter where they had 300 hospitalized COVID-19 patients.

However, he says they will continue to monitor these variants as they spread.

"We monitor the number of people who have cases, who've had any form of infection and we monitor the number of people who have severe infection," he said.

With what we've seen in the past three years, Goldman says COVID-19 is here to stay.

"As more people get vaccinated, as more people become infected there's more partial immunity in the population," he said. "It's going to start to look like a much more mild disease and look more and more like the flu." 

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