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Covid cases in Philadelphia have dropped by 40% this past week. Credit: Maya Pratt

COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths are decreasing in Philadelphia, indicating that the peak in Omicron cases may have passed, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer. 

New daily infections in Philadelphia, the neighboring counties, and South Jersey seem to have peaked between Jan. 9 and 12, according to an analysis performed by the Philadelphia Inquirer. Over the course of this past week, average daily cases in Philadelphia have dropped by 40%. 

Although COVID cases are declining, the number of cases is still higher than in the earlier days of the pandemic, said Philadelphia Health Commissioner Cheryl Bettigole during a news conference on Wednesday, according to the Inquirer. 

However, it is not expected that the death rate will exceed that of last winter or of spring 2020. 

“Things are better, but we’re a long way from safe right now,” Bettigole said. 

The positivity rate in Philadelphia is currently 17.3%. At Penn, the overall positivity rate dropped from 13.47% for the week of Jan. 2 to Jan. 8 to 6.91% for the week of Jan. 9 to Jan. 15, according to the Penn COVID-19 Dashboard

“There are many indications that the Omicron surge has peaked in our region,” Penn President Amy Gutmann wrote in an email sent to students on Thursday. “The trend is encouraging, and we will continue to work with our public health experts to monitor these rates as more people return to campus.”

Bettigole said that getting the booster vaccine is “critical” to being fully protected from the Omicron variant. Although 79% of Philadelphian adults are vaccinated, just under a quarter of the city's vaccinated population has received their booster shot. 

Penn is requiring all eligible community members to receive a booster shot by Jan. 31, and the University hosted four vaccine booster clinics at the beginning of the spring semester ahead of students returning to in-person classes on Jan. 24.