State reports 49 more deaths from Covid-19; January is on track to be the most deadly month for the disease in Kentucky

Kentucky Health News graph; new-case data is from initial, unadjusted daily reports.

By Melissa Patrick
Kentucky Health News
Gov. Andy Beshear and his health commissioner have long said Covid-19 deaths are a lagging indicator of cases, and Wednesday’s report of 49 more deaths, the fourth highest on one day, is certainly an indication of that.
Kentucky saw its highest number of new coronavirus cases in November and December, 71,822 and 90,340 respectively. It saw its highest number of deaths in December, 754, and January has already gained the distinction of second highest, with 581 deaths, with more than a third of the month left.
Of the 49 deaths reported Wednesday, 42 were confirmed and seven were probable. That brings the state’s death toll to 3,243. A better indicator of this measure are the averages, since Covid-19 deaths are reported many days after they occur. The averages tell a similar story; over the last seven days, the state has averaged 36 deaths per day, and the 14-day average is 31.2, both records.
Beshear chose to focus on the positive, noting that at 11.29 percent, this is the fifth day in a row that the share of Kentuckians testing positive for the virus over the last seven days has stayed below 12%.
“While there is still so much pain and darkness in our commonwealth due to this pandemic, we are beginning to see the light ahead of us,” he said in a release. “This plateauing positivity rate is great news for Kentucky, especially as we continue to bring more of these live-saving vaccines to our people each week.”
Other good news is that Wednesday’s report of 3,433 new cases lowered the seven-day rolling average to 3,025 — down for the ninth consecutive day and a little bit below where it was on Jan. 6 (3,063), the day the new-case record was set (5,742).  That was also a Wednesday; on the intervening Wednesday, there were 4,560 new cases.
The daily vaccine report shows the state has received 444,325 doses and has administered 232,127, but only 39,361 in long-term-care facilities, where shots are being given by CVS Health and Walgreens under a federal contract.
Kentucky hospitals reported 1,678 Covid-19 patients, just below the 14-day average of 1,681. Of those, 399 are in intensive care, a little below the recent weekly, bi-weekly and monthly averages. and 205 are on a ventilators, a number that has remained fairly flat for several days.
Two hospital readiness regions are using more than 80% of bed capacity in their intensive-care units: the east region, 89%; and Lake Cumberland, 98%. The northern region is using 80.2% of its overall capacity.
Counties averaging at least 100 new cases per 100,000 residents per day over the past seven days were Morgan County, at 254.4 per 100,000; Oldham, 201.2; Hancock, 103.2; Clinton, 102.1; and Campbell, 100.9. The overall state rate is 64.09. Morgan and Oldham have virus outbreaks at state prisons.
In other coronavirus news Wednesday:
  • Counties with 10 or more cases were Jefferson, 436; Fayette, 218; Kenton, 208; Boone, 177; Warren, 129; Daviess, 121; Campbell, 101; Madison, 99; Hardin, 92; Laurel, 79; Christian, 67; Henderson, 61; Bullitt and Jessamine, 55; Pike and Scott, 50; Oldham and Whitley, 49; Boyd, 47; Nelson, 43; Graves and McCracken, 37; Clark, 36; Shelby, 34; Barren, 32; Calloway, Harlan and Rowan, 30; Boyle and Franklin, 29; Butler and Mason, 28; Hopkins, 27; Hart, Lincoln, Meade, Mercer and Taylor, 25; Bell and Grant, 24; Logan and Pulaski, 23; Simpson, 22; Floyd and Knox, 21; Anderson and Carter, 19; Allen, 17; Marion, Rockcastle and Woodford, 16; Garrard, 15; Clay and Morgan, 14; Casey and Ohio, 13; Breathitt, Grayson, Henry, Pendleton and Perry, 12; Caldwell and Harrison, 11; Estill, Hancock, Lawrence, McLean, Monroe and Union, 10.
  • The 49 fatalities were an Adair County woman, 68; an Adair County man, 81; two Anderson County women, 84 and 86; an Anderson County man, 85; a Barren County woman, 69; a Boyle County woman and man, 70 and 79; a Calloway County woman, 69; two Christian County men, 86 and 89; a Clay County woman, 69; a Crittenden County man, 72; a Fayette County woman, 90; a Gallatin County woman, 92; a Graves County man, 75; two Harlan County women, 54 and 76; four Harlan County men, 69, 70, 80 and 85; a Hart County woman, 82; a Hopkins County woman, 99; two Hopkins County men, 65 and 68; a Jefferson County woman, 102; two Jefferson County men, 74 and 93; a Lincoln County man, 75; a Madison County woman and man, 79 and 66; three Marshall County women, 63, 64 and 84; a Pulaski County woman and man, 77 and 70; a Robertson County woman, 85; a Rowan County woman and man, 55 and 80; a Shelby County man, 86; a Taylor County man, 86; a Todd County man, 62; a Trimble County man, 86; three Warren County women, 58, 73 and 85; and a Wayne County woman and man, 100 and 89.
  • The B117 variant of the virus, first identified in the United Kingdom, could become the dominant strain in the U.S. by March, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention fears. That could be devastating for already overwhelmed hospitals, Stat reports.
  • After a heated debate, Jefferson County School Board voted 5-2 to begin winter sports, Jess Clark reports for WFPL. Board members said their parents, coaches and community members were urging them to do so, but one of the two members who voted no, Chris Kolb, reminded them of the county’s high and growing infection rates; the fact that winter sports are played indoors, where the virus spreads more easily; and of warnings from the state’s health commissioner that more contacts lead to more infection and more death. In voting yes, James Craig said, “I remain so so frustrated that we’re asking them to sacrifice when no one else in the community is willing to make the same sacrifice.”
  • Researchers with the University of Louisville‘s Co-Immunity Project, which tracks the virus in Louisville’s wastewater, “continues to show Covid-19 is in all of Louisville’s communities,” U of L Professor Tamara Sluss told the Louisville Courier Journal, saying it could be of particular use for tracking effectiveness of vaccine distribution.
  • Some researchers are now looking at Louisville streams to see if the city’s surface water shows signs of the virus. While their findings don’t appear to show a risk of the virus from waterways, when found it does indicate an aging sewer system that lets remnants of human waste flow into it, the CJ’s Mary Ramsey reports.
  • The Kentucky Nurses Association said retired nurses have been calling and e-mailing to see if they can help administer the vaccine, WKYT reports. Already at Baptist Health Corbin, 11 nurses have come out of retirement to work at a vaccination center.
  • Kaiser Health News examines the challenges of Covid-19 patients trying to get access to the highly touted Covid antibody treatments, which are most effective if given early in the illness, within 10 days of a positive test. JoNel Aleccia reports that so far, only about 30% of the available doses have been administered to patients, according to the federal Department of Health and Human ServicesClick here to find a list of locations in Kentucky that have received the monoclonal antibody product.
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