State reports Christmas Eve was pandemic’s second-deadliest day, with 53 Covid-19 deaths, but positive-test rate fell below 8%

By Al Cross
Kentucky Health News

Christmas Eve was Kentucky’s second-deadliest day of the pandemic, with confirmation of 53 deaths from Covid-19, Gov. Andy Beshear announced Saturday in a three-day report, his first since before the two state holidays.

Eleven deaths were confirmed Friday and four Saturday. The 53 deaths reported Thursday were second only to the 54 confirmed on Dec. 17.

“The number of deaths we’re announcing today is truly heartbreaking – another wake-up call,” Beshear said in a press release. “But one piece of good news is that our positivity rate continues to decline. It was even under 8 percent on Christmas Day.”

Kentucky Health News graph; click on it to enlarge

On Friday, the share of Kentuckians testing positive for the coronavirus in the last seven days was 7.95%. It was 8.2% Thursday and 8.04% Saturday. (The rate had been above 8% since Nov. 11 and peaked at 10.07% Dec. 3.)

“That means our sacrifices are making a difference,” Beshear said. “Thank you for doing the holidays differently this year to protect each other. Let’s keep working hard so we don’t have more days like today where we have to announce we’ve lost so many of our neighbors, family and friends.”

Probably due to limited testing-laboratory activity and reporting, reported numbers of new cases declined over the period, from 2,742 Thursday to 1,803 Friday to 764 Saturday.

The pattern resembled the one at Thanksgiving, when the day after the holiday had fewer than half the cases reported on the holiday. The periods are not fully comparable, since many people and laboratories take holidays on the day after Thanksgiving but the day before Christmas.

The seven-day rolling average of daily new cases fell to 2,725 Thursday, 2,528 Friday and 2.153 Saturday, the lowest since Nov. 13.

Kentucky hospitals reported 1,689 Covid-19 cases Thursday, 1,601 Friday and 1,511 Saturday, the  fewest since Nov. 16. However, Covid-19 patients on ventilators jumped to 237 on Saturday, the most in a week.

Health officials fear another surge in cases as a result of contacts during the holidays, but Health Commissioner Steven Stack sounded a positive tone.

“Many Kentuckians found new ways to celebrate Christmas yesterday, including limiting their in-person interactions with others,” Stack said in the news release. “Your sacrifices are appreciated, and a gift of kindness to your loved ones and your neighbors, as we keep this dreadful disease from spreading more rapidly. Please make sure you’re familiar with symptoms of this virus, and if you aren’t feeling well, please stay home until you are better or see a health-care provider.”

The 53 Covid-19 deaths confirmed Thursday included six from Hopkins County – four women, aged 67, 74, 92 and 94, and two men, 74 and 77 – and five from Pulaski County: three women, 52, 87 and 90; and two men, and 91. Each county also had a Covid-19 death on Friday.

The other deaths Thursday were a 67-year-old man from Boyle County; a 72-year-old Breckinridge County woman; two Bullitt County men, 55 and 74; a Campbell County man, 77; two women, 90 and 91, and man, 89, from Christian County; a Cumberland County woman, 71; two Daviess County men, 63 and 65; a Floyd County woman, 82; a Franklin County man, 83; a Graves County woman, 84; a woman, 94, and a man, 87, from Grayson County; a Hardin County woman, 100; a woman, 85, and three men, 70, 80 and 90, from Jefferson County; two Jessamine County men, 74 and 89; three Madison County women, 64, 68 and 73; a Mason County woman, 69; two Monroe County men, 73 and 77; two Muhlenberg County women, 77 and 90; an Ohio County woman, 77; an Owen County man, 91; a Rockcastle County woman, 66; three Russell County women, 86, 87 and 90; two Taylor County women, 82 and 84; a Trigg County man, 86; a Warren County man, 73; and a Wolfe County woman, 75.

Friday’s fatalities were an Anderson County man, 84; a Barren County woman, 71; a Cumberland County man, 60; a Franklin County woman, 71; a Hopkins County woman, 71; a Logan County woman, 87; a Madison County woman, 81; two McCracken County men, 62 and 91; a Monroe County man, 58; and Pulaski County woman, 85. Saturday’s were a Hart County woman, 71; a Jefferson County man, 99; a Monroe County woman, 94; and a Simpson County man, 76.

In other coronavirus news:

  • Counties with 10 or more new cases Thursday were: Jefferson, 377; Warren, 150; Fayette, 147; Daviess, 97; Kenton, 90; Boyle, 77; Boone, 76; Marshall, 60; Boyd, 59; Christian, 59; Campbell, 55; Pulaski, 52; Muhlenberg, 44; Hardin, 42; Laurel, 40; Hopkins, Anderson, 34; Knox, 33; Lawrence, 33; Madison, 32; Bullitt, 31; Oldham, 31; Graves, 30; Harlan, 30; Calloway, 29; McCracken, 29; Nelson, 28; Wayne, 27; Floyd, 26; Grant, 26; Henderson, 25; Logan, Shelby and Simpson, 24; Letcher, 23; Greenup, 22; Carlisle, 21; Clark, Scott and Whitley, 20; Jessamine, 19; Allen, Estill, Lincoln and Pike, 17; Bourbon, 16; Fleming, Ohio, Rowan and Washington, 15; Lewis and Meade, 14; Jackson, Montgomery and Perry, 13; Barren, Clinton, Lyon, Mercer and Rockcastle, 12; Carter and Union, 11; and Bell, Clay, Livingston, Marion, Martin, Taylor and Woodford, 10.
  • Counties with 10 or more new cases Friday were: Jefferson, 428; Fayette, 177; Kenton, 89; Laurel, 51; Madison, 49; Christian, 42; Boyle, 41; Clay, 41; Boone, 40; Greenup, 39; Warren, 39; Graves, 29; Oldham, 29; Campbell, 28; Daviess, 28; McCracken, 27; Hardin, Letcher and Lincoln, 25; Pike, 24; Jessamine and Mercer, 21; Mason, 18; Harlan, 17; Bullitt, 16; Bell and Franklin, 15; Wayne, 14; Carter and Grayson, 13; Anderson, Fleming and Floyd, 12; and Allen, Calloway, Muhlenberg and Powell, 11.
  • Counties with 10 or more new cases Saturday were: Jefferson, 228; Fayette, 97; Warren, 29; Kenton, 27; Boone, 24; Fleming, 17; Franklin, 15; Campbell, 14; Greenup, 12; Madison, 12; Hopkins, 11; Logan, 10; and Whitley, 10.
  • “Scientists initially estimated that 60% to 70% of the population needed to acquire resistance to the coronavirus to banish it. Now Dr. Anthony Fauci and others are quietly shifting that number upward,” reports Donald McNeil of The New York Times. “We really don’t know what the real number is,” Fauci told McNeil. But McNeil writes, “Having a good estimate is important. It gives Americans a sense of when we can hope to breathe freely again. . . . In the pandemic’s early days, Fauci tended to cite the same 60 to 70 percent estimate that most experts did. About a month ago, he began saying ’70, 75 percent’ in television interviews. And last week, in an interview with CNBC, he said ’75, 80, 85 percent’ and ’75 to 80-plus percent.’ . . . Fauci acknowledged that he had slowly but deliberately been moving the goal posts. He is doing so, he said, partly based on new science, and partly on his gut feeling that the country is finally ready to hear what he really thinks. Hard as it may be to hear, he said, he believes that it may take close to 90 percent immunity to bring the virus to a halt — almost as much as is needed to stop a measles outbreak. Asked about Fauci’s conclusions, prominent epidemiologists said that he might be proven right.”
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention took 46 days to produce a working test for the coronavirus; scientists in Thailand did it in hours. The Washington Post explains what went wrong: “An overly ambitious test design and laboratory contamination . . . CDC leaders underestimated the threat posed by the new virus, and overestimated the agency’s ability to design and rapidly manufacture a test. Quality-control measures failed to prevent the shipping of compromised kits to dozens of state and local public health labs. . . . Without tests to identify the early cases, health authorities nationwide were unable to isolate the infected and trace the rapid spread among their close contacts. Those who were asymptomatic, yet contagious, went undetected. CDC Director Robert Redfield, an appointee of President Trump, took a hands-off approach while the in-house manufacturing efforts foundered and agency scientists clashed over whether to alter the design of the problem-plagued test, according to CDC and other federal officials.”
Previous Article
Next Article