More than ever, numbers show a pandemic plateau, tilting down

Kentucky Health News graph shows state-reported data for the last seven months.

By Al Cross

Kentucky Health News
Is this the definition of a pandemic plateau, one with a slight downward tilt?
The state reported 325 new cases of the coronavirus Sunday. That was 50 more than last Sunday, but also exactly the average of the past four Sundays.
The seven-day rolling average of new cases rose by 7, to 525, exactly where it was 15 days ago; since then, it has been no higher than 623. Saturday’s average was the lowest since July.
Much the same is seen in the other key leading indicator, the percentage of Kentuckians testing positive for the virus in the last seven days. It is 3.18%, and has gone down 11 days in a row. It is now virtually the same as it was 12 to 13 days ago. Thirty days ago, it hit a recent low of 2.8%; nine days ago, it hit an April high of 3.51%. (See graph.)
After declining for a week, the statewide average of new cases over the past seven days rose a bit, to 10.24 per 100,000 people. On that metric, the state continues to compare well; The New York Times says Kentucky’s rate is 37th among the states.
Only seven counties have rates more than double the statewide rate: Bath, 43.4; Lewis, 38.7; Powell, 35.8; Morgan, 30.1; Mason, 27.6; Robertson, 27.1; Montgomery, 25.9.
Counties with more than five new cases Sunday were Jefferson, 71; Fayette, 28; Kenton, 23; Boone, 22; Trigg, 15; Scott, 12; Campbell, 10; Floyd, 9; Daviess, 8; and Warren, 6.
In a rarity, none of the state’s hospital-readiness regions reported 80% or more of their intensive-care-unit beds in use. The closest was Lake Cumberland, at 78%; 13% of its ICU beds were occupied by Covid-19 patients.
Kentucky hospitals reported 381 Covid-19 patients, 23 fewer than Saturday; 88 were in ICU, down 14; and 45 of those were on a ventilator, the same as Saturday.
The state added 13 more Covid-19 deaths to its list of pandemic fatalities, four from regular health-department reports and nine from the ongoing audit of death certificates. The death toll is 6,449. In the last two weeks, Kentucky has averaged eight regularly reported Covid-19 deaths per day.
As usual for a weekend, the state did not issue an itemized list of the newly added fatalities by age, county, sex and date of death.
Vaccinations for the virus slowed over the weekend, according to the state’s daily vaccination report. It showed a total of 49,926 first-dose vaccinations in the vaccination-reporting week that began Tuesday, April 20. In the previous week, the state averaged 12,138 vaccinations per day; so far this week it is only 8,321 per day.
The state is expected to resume administering the popular, one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine this week, after federal officials lifted their recommendation that it be paused because a few women who received it developed a rare type of blood clot. Women under 50 will be advised of the risk, which is small: less than that of being hit by lightning, National Institutes of Health Director Dr. Francis Collins said on NBC‘s “Meet the Press.”
Asked how vaccine advocates can persuade the reluctant, Collins said, “Try to emphasize the positives that people go through when they experience vaccination.” He said he and his wife recently had their first dinner with friends since the pandemic began, and “That was so liberating.”
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