Coronavirus new-case numbers and positive-test rate continue to trend down; state’s new-case rate is 13th in nation

Picture of a coronavirus. Text: Covid-19 update

By Melissa Patrick
Kentucky Health News

Since the first case of the novel coronavirus was found in Kentucky a year ago, the state has tackled three separate escalations of cases, but for almost a month has seen new cases and positive-test numbers go down, to the levels of nearly five months ago.

“Team Kentucky should be so proud of the progress we’ve made against this virus,” Gov. Andy Beshear said in a news release Friday. “We’ve got to keep up our commitment to each other until we reach the finish line.”

Beshear announced 920 new cases, bringing the seven-day average to 922, the lowest since Oct. 12.
The share of Kentuckians testing positive for the virus in the last week dropped again, to 4.25%, down from 4.45% on Thursday.
Covid-19 hospitalizations remain largely stable, with 606 people hospitalized with the virus (down 39 from yesterday); 179 in intensive care (up 7); and 76 on a ventilator (down 15).
Two hospital-readiness regions are using at least 80% of their intensive care beds: the easternmost region, from Lee to Pike counties, 81%; and Lake Cumberland, 91%.
Kentucky new-case rate ranks 13th, according to The New York Times. The state reports that rate to be 16.7 cases per 100,000 people.

Counties with rates more double the statewide rate were Lyon, site of state prisons with outbreaks, 336 per 100,000; Clay, 51.7; Robertson, 47.4; Knox, 41.7; McCreary, 41.5; Taylor, 41.0; Owsley, 35.6; and Green, 35.3.

The state’s daily vaccination report shows 789,083 Kentuckians have received a first dose of coronavirus vaccine, nearly 18% of the state’s population.

The state reports 22 more Kentuckians have been listed as dying from Covid-19, 19 of them confirmed and three of them probable. That brings the death toll to 4,754. The 14-day death average was 25.2. Half of Friday’s reported deaths were in Woodford County, ranging in ages from 54 to 97.

Beshear and Lt. Gov. Jacqueline Coleman will host a virtual memorial to honor the more than 4,700 Kentuckians who have died from Covid-19 and to the one-year anniversary of the first case. The event will be at 1 p.m. Saturday, March 6 on the rear terrace of the state Capitol.

In other pandemic news Friday:

  • The 22 fatalities were a Bath County woman, 83; a Clark County man, 81; three Garrard County women, 72, 77 and 92; two Garrard County men, 72,90; a Hardin County man, 72; a Jefferson County woman, 77; a Jefferson County man, 77; a Logan County man, 86; five Woodford County women, 60, 71, 72, 84 and 97; and six Woodford County men, 54, 61, 71, 76, 90 and 93.
  • Counties with 10 or more new cases were Jefferson, 141; Fayette, 67; Kenton, 33; Scott, 30; Franklin and Hardin, 29; Warren, 25; Campbell, 22; Boone, 21; Oldham, 18; Bullitt and Knox, 16; Laurel and Pike, 15; Perry, 14; Floyd, Madison and Pulaski, 13; Barren, Carter, Daviess and Nelson, 11; and Harlan, Wayne and Whitley, 10.
  • In long-term-care facilities, nine more residents and 15 more staff tested positive for the virus today, bringing their total number of active cases to 156 among residents and 156 among staff.
  • Linda Blackford reports for the Lexington Herald-Leader on the first person with a confirmed case of the virus in Kentucky, Julia Donohue, but notes that she was not “patient zero.” That person, she writes, was someone else in Harrison County who had gone to a conference in California last February and came back as an asymptomatic carrier. Blackford adds that Donohue, 28, was sick for several days before being tested for Covid-19, and by the time her test came back positive on March 6, she was already intubated and being airlifted to the University of Kentucky Medical Center.
  • Ryan Van Velzer of WFPL also tells the story of Donohue, and Amber Philpott of WKYT tells the story from the perspective of business owners and health leaders in Cynthiana, her hometown.
  • Daniel Desrochers of the Herald-Leader interprets the “sprawling spreadsheet” of Covid-19 data monitoring new cases, hospitalizations and deaths, reporting that the trends are improving in Kentucky.
  • In the American Psychological Association’s Technology Mind and Behavior journal, Jeremy Bailenson lays out four reasons for what he calls “Zoom fatigue,” a term he uses to encompass all video chats, which have become the norm during the pandemic, The Washington Post reports. Bailenson says this fatigue is a result of an unnatural amount of direct-eye gaze, which is much like public speakers’ experience; a situation that results in constant self-evaluation; a situation that cuts down on a person’s ability to move around; and a situation that requires more mental effort is needed.
  • Kentucky is among states that has not tracked teacher and staff vaccinations amid the school reopening push, the Post reports.
  • A new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report shows that mask mandates and restricting in-person dining in restaurants can help limit community spread of the coronavirus, thus reducing case and death rates. “Mandating masks was associated with a decrease in daily Covid-19 case and death growth rates within 20 days of implementation. Allowing on-premises restaurant dining was associated with an increase in daily Covid-19 case growth rates 41–100 days after implementation and an increase in daily death growth rates 61–100 days after implementation,” says the report. The Herald-Leader reports on the study. Here’s a graphic:
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