Another record week of cases; the most on a Sunday; and new highs for intensive care, ventilators and positive-test percentage

State Dept. for Public Health map, relabeled by Ky. Health News; for a larger version, click on it.

By Al Cross
Kentucky Health News

Kentucky recorded the most cases of the novel coronavirus on a Sunday, and the most in its official Monday-to-Sunday reporting week, Gov. Andy Beshear announced in a press release.

The 2,194 new cases made a total of 20,577 in the reporting week, in daily unadjusted totals. That was 22 percent more than the previous week’s 16,832.

The seven-day rolling average of daily new cases is 2,940, more than two and a half times what it was just a month ago.

The state’s daily report included other record highs: 389 covid-19 patients in intensive care, and 208 of them on ventilators. Total covid-19 hospitalizations in Kentucky totaled 1,533, 21 below the record set Friday.

The share of Kentuckians testing positive for the virus in the last seven days is 9.19%, one-hundredth of a percentage point above the record set Thursday.

Only three of Kentucky’s 120 counties were not in the state’s “red zone” for those with 25 or more daily cases per 100,000 residents in the last seven days.

Beshear again warned Kentuckians that they need to scale back Thanksgiving gatherings to keep covid-19 cases from overwhelming hospitals or spreading the virus to health-care workers, staff shortages being the greater threat.

“This upcoming holiday week is a special time for all of our families, and I know everyone wants to have a normal Thanksgiving after such a difficult year,” Beshear said. “If we have a major surge of covid-19 cases after Thanksgiving, our hospitals will simply not have the capacity to give everyone the care they need. Nothing is worth that risk.”

Beshear cited that risk last week in ordering a halt to in-person schooling and indoor restaurant dining, and limiting other indoor activities.

“I wish more than anything that we could go back to normal safely, but we can’t,” he said, asking Kentuckians to “keep gatherings small (eight people or fewer and two households at most), wear a mask, wash your hands, and stay six feet apart.” The state’s guidance suggests:

  • Having a small dinner with only people who live in your household
  • Preparing traditional family recipes for family and neighbors, especially those at higher risk of severe illness from covid-19, and delivering them in a way that doesn’t involve contact with others
  • Having a virtual dinner and sharing recipes with friends and family
  • Shopping online rather than in person on the day after Thanksgiving or the next Monday
  • Watching sports events, parades, and movies from home with only people who live in your household

Beshear said four more covid-19 deaths had been confirmed: a 69-year-old Allen County woman; a 78-year-old Daviess County man; an 88-year-old McCracken County man; and a 62-year-old Ohio County woman.

Counties with 10 or more new cases Sunday were: Jefferson, 515; Fayette, 301; Boone, 112; Kenton, 101; Greenup, 60; Campbell, 52; Madison, 48; Bullitt, 43; Hardin, 42; McCracken, 41; Boyle, 35; Warren, 33; Calloway, 32; Christian, 29; Floyd, 28; Scott, 24; Daviess, 23; Oldham, 22; Nelson, 20; Boyd, Graves and Pulaski, 19 each; Hopkins, 18; Carter and Lincoln, 17 each; Barren, Clay, Grant and Powell, 15 each; Garrard, Jessamine, Pike and Shelby, 13 each; Mason, Montgomery, Muhlenberg and Simpson, 12 each; Franklin, Harlan, Logan and Whitley, 11 each; and Carroll, Fleming, Grayson, Johnson and Laurel, 10 each.

In other coronavirus news Sunday:

  • Kentucky’s largest church continued to hold in-person services Sunday despite Beshear’s request that they be suspended. Southeast Christian Church Senior Pastor Kyle Idleman told members that the decision was driven by concerns about members’ mental health: “We have a lot of brothers and sisters who are really overwhelmed in this season. We have seen a dramatic increase in depression, anxiety, and loneliness and other mental health challenges that come when there’s extended isolation and month after month of uncertainty. As some of you know, we’ve had a number of suicides connected to our church family. There’s been a dramatic increase in those struggling with addictions. For those reasons, we want to keep our doors open during this season.” Louisville’s WDRB reports, “Southeast suspended in-person services for nearly four months, from mid-March until early July . . . Idleman estimates 70% of the church is participating online.”
  • The average healthy young person shouldn’t expect to get a vaccine until 2021’s second quarter, and maybe early in the third quarter, former Food and Drug Administration chief Scott Gottlieb on CBS‘s “Face the Nation.” He said after vaccines are made available to health-care workers, first responders and other especially vulnerable people, he expects the FDA to authorize them for decreasingly younger age groups. He said achieving herd immunity won’t require vaccinating 70% of the population because about 30% of Americans will have contracted the virus by spring. Asked about the claim of President Trump, who appointed him, that the U.S. wouldn’t have had a vaccine for four years without Trump, Gottlieb said, “I don’t think anybody was forced to do anything . . . Everyone recognized the urgency.”
  • Dolly Parton’s $1 million gift for research at Vanderbilt University in Nashville sped work on the vaccine that Moderna announced last week. Vandy professor Mark Denison told The New York Times that the money “helped us develop the test that we used to first show that the Moderna vaccine was giving people a good immune response that might protect them.” Naji Abumrad, a physician and surgery professor whose friendship with Parton led to the donation, told The Washington Post, “Her work made it possible to expedite the science behind the testing. Without a doubt in my mind, her funding made the research toward the vaccine go 10 times faster than it would be without it.”
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