ERIE (Erie News Now) – Breakthrough cases of COVID-19 are climbing and officials at UPMC Hamot in Erie confirm that their data is keeping pace.
Vaccinated people with breakthrough cases of COVID-19 now account for 26% of all those hospitalized, that’s up from 5% in September.
UPMC Hamot Director of Operations Emily Shears said with most mild to moderate cases, people can stay at home and quarantine as they recover.
But how do know when you’re sick enough to go to the hospital? It’s usually because of difficulty breathing. “You know the presentation is different for everyone, we still are seeing those major symptoms, cough, shortness of breath,” Shears said. “We’re seeing that people who need hospitalization, usually require that because their respiratory status is declining so they need oxygen or they need other support. That’s bringing them to the hospital,” she added.
Word of community spread and increasing breakthrough cases is spurring people to action. A Monday afternoon COVID-19 vaccine clinic at UPMC Hamot’s operations center on the Bayfront Parkway was full. The hospital moved more than 300 people through the clinic from 4-6 p.m., some getting vaccinated for the first time, others getting Pfizer booster shots.
And there’s a local resurgence of people are getting tested for COVID-19. A LECOM pop-up test site outside of Blasco Library Monday attracted a steady stream of people, they administered 30 tests in the first hour.
LECOM pharmacy students staffed the pop-up test site. Their professor Kim Burns said testing is clearly up, people are hearing about the community spread and breakthrough cases, and some are required to get tests for school, athletic teams or work.
“They’re aware of the cases so if they have any symptoms at all they’re coming for a test, people are scared,” Burns said.
The site offered rapid tests, with results in 15 minutes. Burns said they have seen positives in vaccinated people.
Shears said even with breakthrough hospitalizations up, that doesn’t change UPMC’s main message that vaccines prevent severe illness.”
Our main message is that vaccination is effective at preventing severe illness and hospitalization,” Shears said, “however even if you’re vaccinated, wearing a mask is a very good line of defense to make sure that even if you do end up having a breakthrough case that you’re not going to be spreading it to multiple people.”