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COVID-19 cases on the rise in Monroe County

COVID-19 cases in Monroe County are rising quicker than any other in our area. Hospital officials are weighing in, especially as another holiday weekend approaches.

MONROE COUNTY, Pa. — Monroe County added 80 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday. The number is on the rise, as are hospitalizations, and it concerns health officials.

"The leading county in terms of acquisition in new cases in Monroe County. Now, does this sound familiar? Because it should. It should be. Take a flashback to about a year ago when we were seeing the same thing. At that time, the northern New Jersey and New York City area was the epicenter or the center of this pandemic, and obviously, what we were seeing was an area that had geographical proximity or had many residents that were going back and forth to those areas was also heavily impacted," said Dr. Jeffrey Jahre, an infectious disease practitioner at St. Luke's University Health Network.

Dr. Jahre says more contagious variants could also be a factor.

"The other very important phenomenon right now is the emergence of mutants or variants, and we know there is a New York City variant that resembles the one in South Africa, and the vaccines, although they work for that, may be less effective. We are also seeing a large increase in the United Kingdom variant, which we know can be much more infectious," said Dr. Jahre.

At Lehigh Valley Hospital Pocono in East Stroudsburg, health officials say as Easter weekend approaches, vigilance is key, especially for those who are not fully vaccinated.

"If you have not been vaccinated, you should not be around other people. If you have been vaccinated, and someone else in your family has been fully vaccinated, then you can have social gatherings, not large gatherings," said Elizabeth Wise, LVH-Pocono.

Health experts say the more people get vaccinated, the less the virus will spread from person to person. Continue to wear a mask, social distance, and wash your hands.