PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Multiple local counties now have “substantial” COVID-19 spread, according to the CDC.

As of Tuesday night, the CDC had listed Allegheny, Beaver, Butler, Lawrence, Washington, Westmoreland, Indiana and Somerset as counties in our area with “substantial” community transmission.

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For it to reach “substantial,” a county needs at least 50 cases per every 100,000 people. Allegheny County is eight cases over that threshold at 58 cases.

As cases creep up, things are ramping up inside Pittsburgh’s two largest hospital systems. Doctors say there’s one thing in common between almost all the patients: they’re unvaccinated.

“We got as good as in the single digits of patients admitted, but now, we’ve been running in the mid-20s,” said Infectious Disease Physician AHN Dr. Nathan Shively.

Shively spotted a change over the past three weeks but says 20 hospitalizations at AHN pale in comparison to the hundreds.

“So far it looks nothing like what we saw in the winter where we had throughout the network 360-380 admitted patients throughout our network,” said Shively.

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At UPMC, Chief Medical Officer Dr. Donald Yealy just received the latest case counts.

“At its low, it was between 25 and 30 across all UPMC sites. Ninety-eight this morning. That sounds like a big jump, but that’s one-twelfth of what we saw at the peak,” said Yealy.

Both doctors say hospitalizations usually follow not far behind as case counts increase in the community, so they’re expecting them to increase still.

“We do have dedicated COVID areas for care. They’re not overrun right now, there isn’t any one hospital with a significant number that would cause us or that site to really need a different approach to COVID care so I’m comfortable we can manage,” said Yealy.

Both doctors said this: vaccination rates need to increase, but we’re in a good spot.

“The majority of cases that are hospitalized right now are unvaccinated, almost exclusively, that’s what we’re seeing. Especially when we’re talking about people getting severely ill, people that are dying.”

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When it comes to a possible mask mandate in Allegheny County, Dr. Debra Bogen continues to point to CDC guidance, encouraging mask-wearing in public indoor settings. She calls vaccination the “most important public health action” we can take to end this pandemic.

Meghan Schiller