Pandemic-related hospitalizations have more than doubled in four weeks across the local four-county area.

Statewide numbers are trending higher as well, the Department of Health update showed on Wednesday.

There were 2,842 inpatients being treated for COVID-19 statewide on Wednesday, with 579 in intensive care units and 298 on ventilators.

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That is up from 2,580 hospitalizations last week and from 1,652 on March 24.

Locally, there were 78 COVID-19 hospitalizations in Cambria, Blair, Somerset and Bedford county hospitals, with eight in ICUs and 10 on ventilators.

That is up from 59 hospitalizations last week and 31 hospitalizations across the four-county area on March 24.

Local hospitals say they are able to handle the additional patients, but ask the public to help stem the surge.

“Any time that we experience patient surges there are challenges that arise,” said Dr. Elizabeth Dunmore, chief medical officer for Conemaugh Health System.

“At this point, we are experienced with managing COVID-19 patients,” Dunmore continued. “We have effective policies and procedures in place that assist us so that we are able to accommodate patients and provide excellent care.

“These surges do take a toll, on our health care providers, and we continue to recognize this.

“We urge the community to support health systems and each other by getting vaccinated, practicing universal masking, hand hygiene, social distancing and avoiding large gatherings.”

Conemaugh has not reduced elective procedures or altered its visitation policy.

UPMC Somerset, UPMC Bedford and UPMC Altoona are also able to continue elective procedures and maintain limited visitation.

“Because of our extensive planning and preparation, UPMC facilities are safe, and staff are well-equipped and know how to properly care for patients with COVID-19,” spokeswoman Danielle Sampsell said in an email.

Meanwhile, the surge in new COVID-19 cases appears to be flattening, with 4,602 additional positive cases on Wednesday.

Westmoreland County recorded three new COVID-19 deaths, and Centre and Clearfield counties each added one death among 60 additional Pennsylvania deaths in Wednesday’s report.

It brings the state totals to 1,118,470 cases and 25,827 deaths attributed to COVID-19.

Cambria County added 55 cases, Somerset County added 18, Bedford County added 17, Blair County added 89, Indiana County added 12, Clearfield County added 37 and Westmoreland County added 137 cases.

Through Tuesday, 2,886,162 Pennsylvanians are fully vaccinated and another 1,907,425 people are partially vaccinated, meaning they have received one dose of a two-dose vaccine.

Providers have administered 7,409,970 total vaccine doses, with a seven-day moving average of more than 100,000 vaccines a day.

Randy Griffith is a multimedia reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. He can be reached at 814-532-5057. Follow him on Twitter @PhotoGriffer57.

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