Share of Kentuckians testing positive for coronavirus drops again; death rate still high; CDC says two masks are better than one

By Melissa Patrick
Kentucky Health News

Despite the persistently high deaths from Covid-19 in Kentucky, Gov. Andy Beshear sees hope in the state’s declining rate of residents testing positive for the novel coronavirus in the last seven days.

Beshear announced 1,914 new cases of the virus on Wednesday, the lowest Wednesday in weeks, and reported that the positive-test rate dropped again, to 7.5 percent, the lowest since Nov. 9.

He also said 49 more Covid-related deaths, 46 confirmed and three probable, brought the state’s death toll to 4,175. In the last 14 days, the state has averaged 45.2 deaths per day, a near-record, and the average has been over 40 since Jan. 28.

“We are still seeing far too many deaths, but this decreased positivity rate is a really hopeful leading indicator,” Beshear said in a news release. “We have come so far in our fight against this virus – now, we need to hang on until we reach the finish line.”

Deaths are a lagging indicator of the virus, and many of them continue to be the result of the escalation of cases seen in November and during the holidays. The hope and expectation is that as case numbers go down, so too will the deaths, but more contagious strains of the virus have made it easier to catch.
One way to decrease cases is to follow the public-health measures known to thwart the spread of the disease: wear a mask, social distance, wash your hands, limit your social contacts, get tested, especially if you think you’ve been exposed, and stay home if you are sick.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a study, performed with dummies, that shows wearing two masks — a cloth mask over a surgical mask, or knotting and tucking a single medical-procedure mask to prevent air leakage —  reduced a healthy person’s risk of catching the coronavirus by more than 95%.

When the infected wearer and receiver were both fitted with the double mask or a knotted and tucked mask, the cumulative exposure of the receiver were reduced by 96.4 percent and 95.9 percent, respectively.

“The data in this report underscore the finding that good fit can increase overall mask efficiency,” the CDC said. “Multiple simple ways to improve fit have been demonstrated to be effective.”

The number of people hospitalized in Kentucky with the virus is down 13 from yesterday, to 1,191, but the number in intensive care rose 54, to 336; and 21 more were on ventilators, totaling 169.

Two of the state’s hospital-readiness regions reported more than 80% use of their intensive-care beds: the easternmost region, 81.6%, and the Lake Cumberland region, 97.8%.
The state’s daily vaccination report shows 482,039 Kentuckians have received the first dose of a coronavirus vaccine.
In anticipation of inclement weather, three of the state’s Kroger regional vaccination sites in Lexington, Bowling Green and Covington will be closed on Thursday. Beshear said earlier Wednesday that the appointments will be rescheduled to Thursday of next week at the same appointment time.
Beshear also encouraged Kentuckians with appointments scheduled in the next few days to keep a close eye on their e-mails and voice mails for possible notifications from their provider.
Today’s fatalities were an Anderson County woman 93; a Boone County woman, 83; a Bourbon County man, 68; a Boyd County man, 74; a Boyle County woman, 81; a Breathitt County man, 67; a Campbell County man, 93; a Christian County woman,75; a Clinton County woman, 76; two Fayette County women, 74,84; three Garrard County women, 93, 95 and 96; a Hardin County man, 80; three Harlan County women, 41, 56 and 63; a Harrison County man, 67; a Hart County woman, 82; a Jefferson County woman, 84; a Jessamine County man, 81; a Kenton County woman, 82; two Kenton County men, 77,96; a Lawrence County woman, 80; a McCracken County woman, 81; a McCracken County man, 73; two McCreary County women, 76 and 80; a Madison County woman, 93; a Marion County woman, 48; a Mercer County man, 66; a Muhlenberg County woman, 66; a Nelson County man, 69; an Ohio County man, 89; a Pulaski County woman, 76; a Pulaski County man, 71; a Shelby County woman, 91; a Shelby County man, 92; a Simpson County woman, 74; four Warren County women, 64, 72, 92 and 92; two Warren County men, 87 and 89; a Wayne County woman, 82; and a Wayne County man, 78.

Counties with 10 or more new cases were Jefferson, 244; Fayette, 145 Kenton, 74; Madison, 58; Boone and Daviess, 56; Warren, 55; Barren, 51; Hardin, 49; Montgomery, 43; Christian, 36; Laurel, 35; Campbell, 33; Bullitt and Hopkins, 31; McCracken, 27; Russell, 26; Boyd, Marion and Pulaski, 25; Jessamine, 23; Perry, 23; Henderson, 21; Clinton, Hart and Pike, 19; Casey, Clark and Marshall, 18; Caldwell, 17; Whitley, 16; Franklin, Lawrence and Scott, 15; Allen, Boyle, Green, Nelson, Oldham and Taylor, 14; Knox, Larue, Lincoln and McCreary, 13; Greenup and Shelby, 12; Butler, Meade, Monroe, Muhlenberg and Woodford, 11; Floyd, Grayson, Letcher, Logan and Mason, 10.

The state’s case-incidence rate declined to 38.7 per 100,000 residents. Counties with rates more than double that rate were all in Southern Kentucky: Allen, 93.2; McCreary, 78.8; Russell, 77.3; and Clinton, 76.9.
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