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COVID-19 heading into 2022: developments you should know about

The pandemic situation is always changing, from changes in vaccine eligibility to variants and masking recommendations.

YORK, Pa. — The York community had an opportunity to get their COVID-19 questions answered Dec. 20 at a Q&A run by Family First Health.

The event focused on the latest information from the medical community regarding recent pandemic-related trends, including changes in vaccine eligibility and masking recommendations.

The COVID situation in Pennsylvania is currently heading in the wrong direction; cases were up nearly 80 percent from late October to late December, according to data from the Pennsylvania Department of Health.

The rise, however, is likely not due to the Omicron variant of the virus, which has been widely discussed in the media in recent weeks as it spreads through the U.S.

“Everyone wants to prepare and that’s why constantly hear about it. But as of today when I last checked, 96 percent of COVID cases in Pennsylvania are still due to the Delta variant,” said Dr. Hetal Patel, family medicine physician with Family First Health.

Because both the Delta and Omicron variants appear to be more contagious, Patel said families still need to stay vigilant over the holidays, even is everyone is vaccinated.

“If somebody’s been exposed them, as much as you love them, they do not come to the event,” she said.

It’s not all bad news. From understanding how coronavirus spreads to having accurate testing, the medical community has many more tools to combat the virus than when it began spreading widely in early 2020.

“That is a wonderful infrastructure that we didn’t have 21 months ago,” Patel said. “From inventing our test to making sure that they’re accurate to making sure they’re available in a timely manner, that’s progress.”

Public health officials continue to urge everyone eligible—now anyone age 5 or older—to get the vaccine and the booster if applicable. The vaccine remains the most effective way to prevent severe COVID-19.

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