Lancaster County COVID deaths plunged to a near all-time low in March, and serious cases also dropped dramatically.
Five Lancaster County residents died in the past month, according to Dr. Stephen Diamantoni, county coroner. Those deaths were the second-lowest number of deaths since the pandemic began in March 2020. The lowest monthly death toll occurred last July, when four persons died.
In comparison, the highest monthly toll here came in December 2020 with 207 deaths. At the start of this year, in January, there were 18 deaths. Since the start of the pandemic, 1,777 county residents have died of COVID.
The low number of deaths brings hope that the county will continue to see a decline in COVID fatalities, Diamantoni said.
“I’m still seeing a lot of people with COVID coming into my office,” he said. “But these cases seem less virulent.”
The Food and Drug Administration plans to offer a booster vaccine to older and immunocompromised Americans in the next several months, The New York Times reported on April 4. It will provide a new booster, targeting new COVID variants, to the general public in the fall, at the same time that a flu vaccine is made available.
Declines in the number of COVID hospitalizations and new infections supported the supposition that the current variants of COVID are less virulent than those in the past.
Area hospitals reported a daily average of 21 serious cases of COVID in March, down almost 40% from 34 a month ago, the state Health Department reported. In January 2022, a daily average of 209 county residents required hospital care for COVID, the record high for this county.
Doctors, clinics and hospitals reported an average of 39 new COVID infections daily last month, a drop from 70 in February and 102 in January, the state Health Department said.
Those numbers are believed to be low. Because of self-testing, many mild cases no longer are reported to the Health Department.
Three of the five deaths were nursing home residents, one each at Landis Homes, Brethren Village and Fairmount Homes. The fourth death occurred among the staff of Newport Meadows. The fifth death took place in the general population, not at a nursing facility.
The county’s nursing homes reported 91 COVID cases among their residents. Of those, 52 cases occurred at two facilities, 28 at Quarryville Presbyterian Retirement Community and 24 at Brethren Village.
There were no deaths at the county’s personal care homes, but there were 47 resident cases at those homes. Forty of the cases occurred at three facilities – Brethren Village Manor (19), Brethren Village Terrace Crossing (11) and Landis Homes (10).
This snapshot of COVID-19 in Lancaster County was compiled by Erica Runkles, Dr. Mary Glazier and Penn Glazier, and Ernie Schreiber using records from the Lancaster County Coroner’s Office, the state Health Department, and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.