All the major metrics used to measure the coronavirus in Ky. have reached new highs; health chief expects them to keep going up

State chart, relabeled by Ky. Health News; last week may be adjusted. Click it to enlarge.

By Melissa Patrick
Kentucky Health News
Gov. Andy Beshear announced 1,745 new cases of the novel coronavirus Monday, bringing the state’s seven-day rolling average up to 1,876, 102 more than yesterday. And that’s following the highest week of new cases reported yet: 12,196.
“It means it is everywhere, everywhere,” Beshear said at his daily briefing. “If you don’t believe that, open your ears, open your eyes, open your heart, and you will see the pain and suffering that is currently occurring in Kentucky.”
In addition to today’s case numbers being the highest for a Monday, usually a low-number day because of limited testing on weekends, Beshear and Health Commissioner Steven Stack noted that Monday also saw new records for hospitalizations, intensive-care usage, and use of ventilators to help patients breathe.
State Department for Public Health chart, adapted; click on it to enlarge.

Kentucky hospitals reported 1,133 patients with covid-19, 300 of them in intensive care and 142 of those on ventilators.

Beshear said capacity of the state’s hospitals is adequate now, but said he remained concerned about staffing. “They can move patients around,” he said. “Staffing is a bigger question.”
Another concerning number is 7.49%, the share of Kentuckians testing positive for the virus in the past seven days. That’s the highest it’s been since May 5, when the state had a shortage of tests and was only testing people with symptoms.
“What this ought to tell you is there’s no way to deny or rationalize it,” Beshear said. “We are at a significant surge. If you’re not wearing a mask, we can’t stop the surge and you’re not protecting yourself.”
Stack said, “Every one of our metrics has reached new highs just in the last one day or so,” said Stack. “Those numbers continue to show signs of increasing.”
He added, “We are clearly at the worst place we have been for this disease,” adding later, “It took us almost 15 weeks from the start of this pandemic in Kentucky just to get to the number of cases we had last week alone.”
With so many cases, the state’s contact tracers, who trace the contacts of infected people and determine whether they need to quarantine for 14 days, can’t keep up with the demand, Stack said.
“Contact tracing, unfortunately, is overwhelmed,” he said. “When you have 12,000 plus cases in a week, there’s no way the system can keep up.”
State health department chart; for a larger version, click on it.

Again, Beshear called on the 80 counties that were in the state’s high-infection “red zone” Thursday, Nov. 5, to follow the state’s recommendations to slow the spread of the virus, and reminded schools and long-term-care facilities to follow their guidance.

“It’s everybody, at the same time, working together to do the things that we know that lessen the virus,” he said. “It’s not a puzzle to work out. We know the steps to take. But it is a team endeavor.”

Stack continued to encourage Kentuckians to wear a mask, social distance, wash your hands, to stay home if you are sick and get tested if you have been exposed to the virus or have symptoms.
Monday’s good news was an announcement by Pfizer Inc. that its two-dose coronavirus vaccine has proven to be “more than 90% effective in preventing covid-19,” it said in a news release. Pfizer, along with the German drugmaker BioNTech, said it expects to ask for emergency-use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration around the third week of November.
“It is too early to take that to the bank,” Beshear said. “But folks, if it holds, it is a game-changer, and really good news. While our times are very dark right now, and we need a lot more out of everybody to get through, this is really seeing a potential light at the end of the tunnel and of a world beyond covid.”
President-elect Joe Biden cautioned in a statement that even with a vaccine, “it will be many more months before there is widespread vaccination in this country.” He added, “This is why the head of the CDC warned this fall that for the foreseeable future, a mask remains a more potent weapon against the virus than the vaccine.”
Beshear reported 11 more deaths from covid-19 Monday, bringing the state’s death toll to 1,576. They were a 67-year-old man from Adair County; a 78-year-old woman and two men, 66 and 70, from Bullitt County; a 43-year-old woman from Fayette County; a 50-year-old woman from Graves County; a 73-year-old man from Green County; a 96-year-old woman from Hancock County; a 95-year-old woman and a 92-year-old man from Hardin County; and an 81-year-old woman from Jefferson County.
In other covid-19 news Monday: 
  • In long-term care, 1,280 residents and 751 staff have active cases of the virus, with 56 residents and 59 staff being reported today. There have been 955 residents and six staff deaths attributed to covid-19, with 34 added to the list today.
  • The K-12 schools report of confirmed cases shows 876 students and 411 employees have tested positive in the last 14 days.
  • The college and university report shows 532 students and 411 employees tested positive in the last 14 days.
  • Beshear gave an update on the outbreak at the Thomson-Hood Veterans Center in Wilmore. He said 85 residents and 59 staff have tested positive for the virus. He said 23 veterans and 10 staff have active cases, and 22 veterans have died from it.
  • Thirteen states are in Kentucky’s travel advisory because they have a positive-test rate of 15% or higher. They are, from highest rate to lowest: South Dakota, Iowa, Idaho, Kansas, Wyoming, Montana, Missouri, Alabama, Utah, Wisconsin, Mississippi, North Dakota and Pennsylvania. Kentuckians who travel to these states are asked to isolate for two weeks upon return. The state also recommends a 14-day self-quarantine for anyone returning from any international travel.
  • Counties with 10 or more new cases were: Jefferson, 372; Fayette, 255; Lee, 94; Bell, 61; Boone, 59; Daviess, 52; Kenton, 52; Pike, 40; McCracken, 38; Campbell, 30; Nelson, 29; Hardin, 28; Boyle, 25; Graves, 25; Bullitt, 24; Madison, 23; Warren, 22; Perry, 18; Barren, 17; Greenup, 16; Pulaski, 15; Oldham, Scott and Shelby, 14 each; Boyd, Knott and Whitley, 13 each; Estill and Monroe, 12 each; Grayson and Hopkins, 11 each; and Henderson, Marshall and Montgomery, 10 each.
  • Fayette County reported 236 new cases on Saturday, its highest single day yet, Jeremy Chisenhall reports for the Lexington Herald-Leader.  “We are seeing it from everywhere,” said health department spokesman Kevin Hall. “I mean it is truly coming from everywhere in the community.”
  • The University of Kentucky‘s cases have more than doubled over the last two weeks, but UK officials told Chisenhall that this is consistent with the city’s increases. “At this point, we believe our continued interventions — ongoing randomized and wastewater testing, daily screening, robust contact tracing and wellness support for students and expanded flu vaccinations — will continue to help us manage the virus,” UK spokesman Jay Blanton said. Cases from the university make up for more than 20% of the city’s total cases, Chisenhall reports.
  • Scott Gottlieb, who was President Trump’s first Food and Drug Administration commissioner, “said there has to be a new post-election focus on what more should be done at the national and state level,” The Washington Post reports. He said on CBS’s “Face the Nation” Sunday, “We’ve been sort of arguing politically over what I think is a false dichotomy, a straw man, that it’s really a choice between lockdowns and no lockdowns. And that’s not the case.”
  • A study in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, found that one in 11 patients (9%) who had been hospitalized for covid-19 were readmitted to the same hospital within two months. Multiple readmissions occurred in 1.6% of patients. Those who were readmitted were more likely to be 65 or older, have a chronic medical condition,  have been hospitalized within three months preceding the first covid-19 hospitalization or were discharged to a nursing home or home-health care after their covid-19 hospitalization.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention graphic; for a larger version, click on it.
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