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UPMC Northcentral: COVID-19 cases will peak in one month's time

COVID-19 cases in central Pennsylvania are on the rise and a surge in the winter months is likely.

WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. — Now that we're heading into the colder months, some are concerned about a possible surge of the virus.

The COVID-19 virus continues to surge throughout central Pennsylvania and Lycoming County especially. This time last year, the county was averaging 10 to 20 new cases per day, but according to the county's dashboard, we are seeing 90 to 100 new cases per day in 2021.

"The positive rate has gone up because they are more cognizant of the fact that they don't take chances. If they have any symptoms that mimic allergy symptoms, they are going to get tested," said Dr. Rutul Dalal, an infectious disease expert with UPMC Northcentral.

Although cases are up, Dr. Dalal tells Newswatch 16 that hospitalizations are down from this time last year. He said the vaccine has been key to keeping folks out of the hospital.

RELATED: How to schedule a COVID-19 vaccine appointment in Pennsylvania

"Because of the vaccinations, the masking, and also some people have an immunity naturally because of the infection, and we are not sure how long that last,s but we are seeing those numbers right now."

This year, the CDC is recommending folks have a virtual thanksgiving. Dr. Dalal is predicting a COVID-19 peak in just five weeks' time. However, he doesn't believe that everyone should celebrate the holiday virtually.

"I do agree that Thanksgiving should be taken with a pinch of salt, but I would say maybe if you are completely fully vaccinated and your group was going to catch up on Thanksgiving, then I don't think that particular group needs to do it virtually.

Medical professionals are also watching out for the possibility of a "twindemic." Dr. Dalal says the hospital system has already started to see a number of respiratory illnesses other than the coronavirus.

"There is definitely going to be an upswing of flu cases, and we have already started to see other respiratory viruses like RSV, rhinovirus, hand foot, and mouth disease. These viruses are already on the upswing."

If you still need a vaccine, UPMC has got you covered. You can sign up for one here.