New records: 3,173 cases; 1,358 hospitalizations, 307 in ICUs; 25 deaths; nursing-home cases and deaths follow similar trend

Kentucky Health News chart; case numbers are from unadjusted initial daily reports.

By Al Cross
Kentucky Health News

The coronavirus pandemic in Kentucky exploded Friday, with record numbers of cases, hospitalizations and deaths.

The state reported 3,173 new cases, almost 18 percent more than the previous record of 2,700 set just two days earlier. That raised the seven-day rolling average of new cases to 2,203, more than three and a half times, or 259 percent, what it was two months ago.

Kentucky hospitals reported 1,358 covid-19 patients, 307 of them in intensive-care units, both records; 147 of the ICU patients were on ventilators.

The state reported 25 more covid-19 deaths, the most ever confirmed on one day. That raised Kentucky’s toll from the disease to 1,647.

Kentucky Health News chart

The percentage of Kentuckians testing positive for the coronavirus in the last seven days took another jump, to 8.68%. Again, that was the highest rate since testing became widely available in May. The new rate was double the rate reported Oct. 12, just over a month earlier.

“This is the toughest spot that we’ve been in so far,” Gov. Andy Beshear said in a video. “We cannot let this escalation continue. I need your help. . . . Too many of us are hurting. Too many of us are dying. We have to defeat this virus.”

Beshear asked Kentuckians in the 94 counties in the state’s “red zone” to follow recommendations for limiting activities, and asked schools to follow similar recommendations. Some school districts in red zones have continued in-person classes, contrary to the recommendations.

“You must do your part,” Beshear said. “If you are not wearing a mask, you are putting yourself at personal risk. Everybody’s got to pull their weight. . . . Come on, Team Kentucky. Too many of us are hurting and too many of us are dying.”

The surge is part of a national phenomenon; more than 150,000 new cases were reported Friday, the most ever. “Like almost every state in America, we are seeing a surge here in Kentucky that is concerning and deadly,” Beshear said. “But like every state in America, the power to stop it is in our hands.”

The number of active coronavirus infections in Kentucky nursing home residents and staff “has nearly quadrupled since mid-August to about 2,200, while the industry’s death toll from the virus this week passed 1,000, according to state data,” John Cheves reports for the Lexington Herald-Leader.

Herald-Leader chart; for a larger version, click on it.

“This amount of community spread continues to hit our more vulnerable,” Beshear said, noting another death at the Thomson-Hood Veterans Center, a state-operated home at Wilmore.

Cheves writes, “There is no realistic way to keep it out of nursing homes anymore, experts say. Employees return every day to their surrounding communities, and if the virus is pervasive enough, it will come in with one of them, despite constant temperature checks and questions about symptoms, they say.”

Sherry Culp, Kentucky’s state long-term care ombudsman, told Cheves, “This is really in the hands of individuals now. It’s up to people to wear their masks, to wash their hands, to not have big social gatherings — basically, to take responsibility for keeping transmission rates down where they live.”

Nursing-home patients have accounted for 61% of Kentucky’s covid-19 deaths.

The 25 covid-19 deaths confirmed Friday were four women, 76, 79, 88 and 92, and three men, 73, 81 and 88, from Barren County; two women, 71 and 92, from Bullitt County; a 93-year-old woman from Christian County; a 65-year-old woman and an 84-year-old man from Hardin County; a 62-year-old man from Harlan County; an 87-year-old woman and a 69-year-old man from Hart County; two men, 76 and 94, from Logan County; a 65-year-old man from Marion County; a 79-year-old woman from Mason County; a 69-year-old man from Ohio County; an 83-year-old woman and two men, 62 and 83, from Pike County; and a 79-year-old woman and an 81-year-old man from Warren County.

Counties with more than 10 new coronavirus cases were: Jefferson, 630; Fayette, 221; Hardin, 133; Kenton, 124; Boone, 116; McCracken, 78; Campbell, 71; Bullitt, 68; Calloway, 66; Warren, 63; Graves, 59; Laurel, 52; Nelson, 47; Daviess, 43; Whitley, 41; Floyd, 39; Shelby, 39; Henderson, 38; Madison, 37; Oldham, 37; Meade, 34; Hopkins, 32; Grant, 31; Pulaski, 31; Perry, 30; Christian, 29; Marion, 29; Johnson, 28; Pike, 28; Grayson, 26; Marshall, 25; Greenup, 24; Barren, Clay, LaRue, Magoffin and Taylor, 22 each; Franklin, 21; Jessamine, Lee and Monroe, 20 each; Boyle, Scott and Washington, 19 each; Pendleton, 18; Lincoln, Muhlenberg and Spencer, 17 each; Anderson, Boyd, McLean, Mercer, Union and Webster, 15 each; Casey and Martin, 14 each; Wayne, 12; and Bourbon, Knott, Knox, Letcher, Logan, Ohio, Powell and Woodford, 11 each.

In other covid-19 news Friday:

  • With the pandemic setting records in Lexington, Fayette County Schools said they would suspend the targeted, in-person classes that they have offered to some students since October, the Lexington Herald-Leader reports. The county is in the red zone, but state recommendations have greenlighted the two-hour classes.
  • People of color have about double the risk of picking up the virus in indoor spaces, says a study from Stanford University. “In the past, these disparities have been assumed to be driven by preexisting conditions and unequal access to health care, whereas our model suggests that mobility patterns also help drive these disproportionate risks,” study co-author David Grusky said in a news release. Places that employ people of color are “often smaller and more crowded,” Grusky said, so “occupancy caps on reopened stores can lower the risks they face.” The Miami Herald reports, “The study found that limiting the number of people who are close together indoors for an extended period of time — such as in gyms, hotels, cafes, religious centers and restaurants — can reduce infections by about 80%.”
  • More than 130 Secret Service officers “have recently been ordered to isolate or quarantine because they tested positive for the coronavirus or had close contact with infected co-workers,” The Washington Post reports, citing “three people familiar with agency staffing” who spoke on the condition of anonymity and linked the outbreak “to a series of campaign rallies that President Trump held in the weeks before the Nov. 3 election.”
  • An interactive map developed by researchers at Georgia Tech shows the risk of different-sized gatherings in each county. The map, which is updated daily and is adjustable by certain event sizes, could provide guidance for holiday plans.
Screenshot of interactive map shows predicted risk for a gathering of 25 in each county. Risk level is the chance that at least one person with the virus will be at an event, given the size of the event.
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