PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – UPMC leaders say they’re seeing a low number of hospitalizations from coronavirus.

At a press conference Wednesday, they said hospitalizations have been on a downward trend for weeks. Right now, UPMC is at its lowest level of coronavirus patients in more than two months.

UPMC’s Chair of Emergency Medicine Dr. Donald Yealy says the rise in overall case counts — Allegheny County has reported 45 new daily cases twice this week — is mostly showing mild illnesses.

“What’s most important now is we need to change our mindset and focus on not just or exclusively on the number of cases, but the severity of illness,” says Dr. Yealy. “We shouldn’t just be counting those who have a diagnosed infection.”

As Allegheny County saw jumps in daily cases, county leaders said the majority of new coronavirus patients are in their 20s and 30s.

County Executive Rich Fitzgerald conceded younger people may not face the dire sickness of their grandparents, “but the spread can occur by anybody. It doesn’t matter about your age or what you do. You can spread the disease.”

At a press conference Wednesday, Dr. Bogen said she anticipates a rise in hospitalizations the coming week.

She’s also concerned that 40 percent of people can spread the virus without symptoms, and they can in turn spread it to high-risk people.

“For the vast majority of people testing positive, their illness is mild, or they don’t even know they have any symptoms of COVID-19 infection. The younger, healthier people who are becoming infected may be helping build our collective immunity — something that helps in any viral pandemic,” said Dr. Yealy.

In response, Dr. Bogen said she’d like to keep the case count low “until we have both a treatment and an immunization that can protect our entire community.”

She explained for herd immunity to have an effect, 60 percent of people must be immune and the county is “far from that.”

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