White House report: 70% of Ky. counties had a moderate or high level of virus spread; advises trading with stores that follow rules

White House Coronavirus Task Force table; for a larger version, click on it.

By Melissa Patrick
Kentucky Health News

The latest report from the White House Coronavirus Task Force again has Kentucky in the task force’s worst danger zone for number of cases, with 12 more counties being put in that zone than the previous week.

“Kentucky is in the red zone for cases, indicating 101 or more new cases per 100,000 population last week, with the 21st highest rate in the country,” said the report. “Kentucky had 158 new cases per 100,000 population in the last week, compared to a national average of 117 per 100,000.”

The report places the state in the orange zone for the percentage of residents testing positive for the virus, representing a rate of 8% to 10%, with the 14th highest rate in the country.

Gov. Andy Beshear regularly points out that the White House report uses a different data stream than the state uses, which means the state’s positive-test numbers are lower. Tuesday he announced a rate of 5.08%, the highest since late August.

“We don’t present this to confuse anybody we present it to be 100 percent fully transparent,” Beshear said at his daily briefing. “If the White House is going to send us an analysis, we want to make sure that you can see it.”

The report covers Oct. 10-16. It puts 84 of the state’s 120 counties into one of the danger zones, up from 76 the previous week. Twenty-one more counties (62) were in the top two danger zones in this week’s report.

The number of counties in the red zone increased from 31 to 43; the orange zone number increased from 10 to 19; and the yellow zone decreased from 35 to 22.

The report says 70% of Kentucky’s counties had a moderate or high level of community transmission, with 36% of them having high levels of transmission.

“The virus is truly everywhere at this point,” said Beshear. “So it’s going to take a full statewide effort to address it. . . . If just one community isn’t doing what it takes to defeat this virus, it can spread to every community around it.”

The report calls for counties in red and orange zones to optimally stop having social gatherings in homes beyond immediate family. It also encourages community members to frequent establishments that follow the rules.

“The White House thinks that we need to be spending our money in those places and trying to encourage maybe establishments that aren’t working as hard to work harder,” Beshear said. “Because we are going to go where it’s safest and we’re going to spend our dollars where it’s safest. It’s a White House recommendation, and I agree that it is a good strategy.”

Communities in the red zone had positive-test rates higher than 10% and more than 1 new case per 1,000 residents. Those in the orange zone had 0.51 to 1 new cases per 1,000, and a weekly positive-test rate of 8% to 10%, or one of those two conditions and one condition qualifying for the red zone. Yellow-zone communities have new cases between 0.1 and 0.5 cases per 1,000 and a positive-test rate of 5% to 8% — or one of those, with the other in a higher zone.

White House Coronavirius Task Force maps; for a larger version, click on the image.
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