Montgomery County experiences COVID-19 surge, increased hospitalization

As cold weather forces more people indoors, COVID-19 is surging in Montgomery County. On December 2, the Montgomery County Board of Commissioners announced almost all hospitals are at capacity.


Surging hospitalizations…As COVID-19 cases increase across the county, Montgomery County hospitals are reaching capacity. Data from this graphic was obtained from Montgomery County Open Data.

As COVID-19 cases surge due to the cold weather, experts are predicting a second wave of COVID-19 that will have significantly higher caseloads and hospitalisations than in the spring.
Between December 2 and 3, the county saw an increase in cases with 43 new hospitalizations. Consequently, the state has also implemented new case thresholds for school closures.
According to science teacher Kimberly Wilson, the uptick in cases is mainly due to the cold weather. In the summer, it was easier to hold events outside and do outdoor dining, but the cold weather is forcing people inside.
Wilson encourages people to continue to wear masks and practice social distancing.
“The aerosols are what transmits the disease. Having a mask on won’t protect you 100%, but it will keep down the viral particles floating around,” Wilson said.
Science teacher Karen Wolfe expects more school closures to occur as cases and positivity rates increase. The Montgomery County Board of Health issued a two-week school closure from November 23 to December 4 in an attempt to slow the spread of COVID-19.
An increased caseload also strains contact tracing.
As COVID-19 spreads, people may not know how they had contact with the virus, like they did in the spring and summer, according to Dr. Andrew Fang. Fang works at Trivalley Primary Care in Franconia.
Contact tracing requires a COVID-19 positive patient to remember who they have been in contact with.
“They ask the person who is positive to go back and remember who they’ve been with for the last few days, but they’re only as good as what that positive patient is going to tell them,” Fang said. “If that person is unwilling to give up information, it can be a real challenge.”
Senior Laura Benner feels like people may not be taking as many precautions as they were at the beginning of the pandemic.
Senior Kamryn Hartman agrees, and believes that stores and restaurants should return to their more intense restrictions from earlier in the pandemic.
Pfizer and Moderna are both seeking emergency FDA approval by mid-December.
According to Fang, the vaccine was able to be developed quickly because of older vaccines that were already in the works. No deaths or hospitalizations occurred during the Pfizer trials either, so the progression of the vaccine was not slowed.
“Fortunately for us, the COVID vaccine that is coming has a lot of history back from those older vaccines,” Fang said.
In Wolfe’s classroom, she cleans desks and lab tables between classes and also cleans any necessary lab equipment. She has even removed some labs from the curriculum due to safety concerns.
“Some of the labs that we were doing are just too material intensive, with touching beakers and things, so I’ve dropped a few labs,” Wolfe said.
Wolfe and Wilson also shop online and order ahead to prevent less contact with potential COVID-19 positive people.
This year, Hartman’s family did not hold Thanksgiving because of the risk. The CDC recommends against traveling and large gatherings for holiday plans.
“Beating it down in the spring worked,” Wilson said. “We have to make priorities, as humans.”