Coronavirus case numbers keep going down but state’s 7-day rate is still among the top 10; positive-test rate is up slightly

New York Times map, adapted by Kentucky Health News, suggests Tennessee is a national leader in new cases of the novel coronavirus over the last seven days, but it’s not even in the top 10, as Kentucky is (eighth), because its more populous counties have relatively low rates. Click the map to enlarge it. For the interactive version, with county-by-county data, click here.

By Melissa Patrick

Kentucky Health News
Gov. Andy Beshear announced 1,017 new cases of the novel coronavirus on Wednesday, a number that is still high when compared with the whole of the pandemic, but that continues to creep down.
“We have made incredible strides against this evil virus, but we can’t let up yet,” Beshear said in a news release. “Even Kentuckians who have been vaccinated should continue to mask up, social distance and keep any gatherings small. Team Kentucky, we are so close to getting through this together, but we must remain vigilant and run through the finish line to slow the spread and save as many lives as possible.”
The decline is part of a national trend. Kentucky’s rate of new cases in the last seven days remains in the top 10 on The New York Times daily compilation, but its ranking has improved; it was eighth Wednesday, but ranked as high as third last week.
Today’s report brings Kentucky’s seven-day average of new cases down to 1,256, the lowest since Oct. 24, when it was 1,255.
The statewide infection rate dropped 23.81 cases per 100,000 residents, putting Kentucky as a whole outside the “red zone” that begins at 25 per 100,000. However, many counties remain hotspots; those with rates more than double the statewide rate on the state’s daily report are McCreary, with 48.1 per 100,000; Russell, 49.4; Owsley, 55; and Metcalfe, 61. A state map with county rates is here.
Only 43 Kentucky counties are in the red zone, which means they are still at high risk of community spread of the virus. These counties are asked to follow red zone recommendations to help limit the spread of the disease.
The contrary measure of the day was the share of Kentuckians testing positive for the virus in the last seven days. It rose to 6.99% from 6.58% yesterday. Health officials have said the goal is to get it below 5%.
Herald-Leader chart (click it to enlarge) shows cases trending younger.

Daniel Desrochers of the Lexington Herald-Leader has updated his weekly table that shows the weekly rate of new cases in Kentucky by age groups. It shows that the highest rates per 100,000 people are in those between the age of 20 and 49, and that cases have trended younger recently, perhaps because people over 70 and residents and employees of long-term-care facilities had priority for vaccination.

Desrochers has also created a time-lapse map that shows how those incidence rates have risen and fallen over time, starting in July.

Kentucky hospitals have 934 Covid-19 patients (down one from Tuesday), 259 of them in intensive care (down 13), and 128 of those on ventilators (down 5).
Two of the 10 hospital readiness regions have more than 80% of their ICU beds filled: the easternmost region, from Lee to Pike counties, 82.35%; and Lake Cumberland, 95.56%.

Beshear said regional vaccination centers will stay open Thursday, though snow is expected. If it’s too difficult or dangerous for Kentuckians to reach their appointments, they should reschedule using the link in their appointment confirmation email, he has said.
Beshear announced 18 new deaths from Covid-19 on Wednesday, 16 confirmed and two probable. That brings the state’s death toll to 4,336. The death averages are down again: over the last 14 days, the state has averaged 33.8 deaths per day, about where the average was four weeks ago.
In other coronavirus news Wednesday:

  • Today’s 18 fatalities were a Boyd County man, 73; a Carter County woman, 76; a Christian County woman, 72; a Fayette County woman, 77; a Harlan County woman, 69; three Jefferson County women, 72, 87 and 93; two Jefferson County men, 73 and 89; a Kenton County man, 85; a Lincoln County man, 68; a Madison County man, 77; two Shelby County women, 83 and 86; a Union County man, 68; and two Wayne County men, 68 and 82.
  • Counties with more than 10 new cases were Jefferson, 242; Fayette, 105; Kenton, 54; Boone, 44; Campbell, 30; Madison, 30; McCracken and Warren, 26; Daviess, Hardin and Mason, 23; Scott, 18; Shelby, 17; Montgomery, 16; Barren, 15; Nelson and Taylor, 13; Franklin, Graves and Wayne, 12; and Bath, 10.
  • MedPage Today talks to Angela Rasmussen, a virologist with Georgetown University’s Center for Global Health Science and Security, about the new coronavirus strains and what that means for vaccination efforts, future mutations and herd immunity.
  • Want to know more about the positive-test rate? Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health offers an explainer.
  • The Guardian and Kaiser Health News continues a year-long investigation into the deaths of U.S. health-care workers who have died from Covid-19 asking, “Did they have to die?” The latest update shows 3,448 of them have died of the disease.
  • Snow and ice information is available at and information on road conditions is available on For today’s update on winter storm safety, click here.
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