New virus cases keep going down, but still 10th in U.S.; share of Kentuckians testing positive rises after falling for eight days

New York Times table, adapted by Kentucky Health News; for the full list, click here.

By Al Cross

Kentucky Health News
Cases of the novel coronavirus in Kentucky continued a downward trend Saturday, but the percentage of Kentuckians testing positive for the virus went up slightly.
Meanwhile, some experts worried that more contagious strains of the virus were already increasing new-case numbers in many states, and would require a larger-than-expected share of Americans to be vaccinated before the end of the pandemic could be declared.
The good news was that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration gave emergency-use authorization for the vaccine developed by Johnson & Johnson, which requires only one dose and can be stored in normal refrigerators, unlike the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines in use since December.
Once the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention gives the final go-ahead, perhaps Sunday, the new vaccine is expected to increase supplies 25%. However, “We’re not going to have nearly enough in time” to prevent increases in cases from more contagious variants, said Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota.
The variants mean that the U.S. will not achieve “herd immunity,” protection of the unvaccinated, until 80 to 90 percent of Americans, including children, have been vaccinated, Dr. Peter Hotez, dean of Baylor University‘s National School of Tropical Medicine in Houston, told CNN. But Dr. Scott Gottlieb, a former FDA commissioner, said that as more Americans are vaccinated, the less the virus will spread.
Daily numbers: Kentucky reported 1,025 new cases of the virus Saturday, lowering the seven-day rolling average to 1,138 per day, the lowest since Oct. 19.
Gov. Andy Beshear said Thursday that the current Monday-to-Sunday reporting week probably wouldn’t be the seventh straight week of fewer new cases, but the state appears to be on track to do that; unadjusted daily reports through Saturday totaled about 300 fewer cases than the same period a week earlier.
After declining for eight days, the share of Kentuckians testing positive for the virus rose .04 percentage points, to 5.56%.
The state listed 25 more Kentuckians dead from Covid-19, all but one of them confirmed, for a total of 4,625 (4,199 confirmed). That was very near the average of 25.2 deaths per day in the last two weeks.
Hospital numbers improved, with only 765 Covid-19 patients hospitalized in Kentucky, 53 fewer than Friday. That was the first time since Oct. 21 the count has been under 800. Covid-19 patients in intensive-care units declined by 9, to 209, and ventilated ICU patients dropped by 18, to 87. Only 42% of Covid-19 ICU patients were on ventilators, an unusually low percentage.
Two of the state’s 10 hospital readiness regions were using more than 80% of their ICU beds: Lake Cumberland, 88.89% (20% for Covid-19 patients) and the easternmost region, from Lee to Pike counties, 80.15% (14% for such patients).
Counties with 10 or more new cases Saturday were: Jefferson,  149; Fayette, 74; Boone, 36; Kenton, 36; Campbell, 31; Taylor, 26; Hardin, 25; Scott, 25; Clay, 24; Pulaski, 21; Warren, 21; Laurel, 20; Madison, 19; Perry, 19; McCracken, Mason and Russell, 18; Knox, Lyon and Whitley, 16; Daviess, 15; Jessamine and Oldham, 14; Bell and Franklin, 12; Hopkins, 11; and Bullitt and Calloway, 10.
An outbreak of cases at the Western Kentucky Correctional Complex between Eddyville and Fredonia appeared to be connected to the high rate of infection this week in Caldwell County. The prison is in Lyon County, but its mailing address is Fredonia, which is in Caldwell County.
The state Corrections Department‘s Covid-19 report showed the complex had 232 of the 241 active cases among inmates in state prisons, and 18 of the 29 active cases among employees.
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