As case numbers and positive-test rate rise, and Derby looms, Beshear cautions, ‘Mask up when you’re inside or in large groups’

State Dept. for Public Health map, relabeled by Ky. Health News; to enlarge, click on it.

By Al Cross

Kentucky Health News
Heading into Kentucky Derby weekend, a time for gatherings, the state is seeing more new cases of the coronavirus and a higher positive-test rate.

“I hope all Kentuckians enjoy Oaks today and the Derby tomorrow,” Gov. Andy Beshear said in a press release. “I know we’re so excited to get back to a more normal celebration of such a special tradition. It’s important to keep yourselves and others safe. Mask up when you’re inside or in large groups, and most important, get vaccinated if you haven’t yet.”

The state reported 723 new cases of the virus, raising its seven-day rolling average to 573, the highest in nine days. The percentage of Kentuckians testing positive for the virus in the last seven days is 3.22%, the highest in eight days.
The statewide rate of daily new cases over the last seven days is 11.1 per 100,000 residents, the highest in nine days. The New York Times says the state’s rate ranks 29th among the states, the highest since March 24.
Counties with rates more than double the statewide rate were Powell. 47.4 per 100,000; Lewis, 36.6; Bath, 33.1; Todd, 29.1; Robertson, 27.1; Montgomery, 25.4; Simpson, 23.8; and Monroe, 22.8.
As case numbers rose, vaccinations remained slow. The state’s daily vaccination report said 28,071 first doses were given Tuesday through Thursday, an average of 9,357 per day. Thursday’s total was 9,392. This reflects a national trend; the rate of vaccinations in the U.S. has dropped 25% in the last week. Ten states are not ordering additional doses for next week.

Beshear’s release said 1,760,933 Kentuckians had received at least their first dose of a coronavirus vaccine. That leaves the state 739,067 first shots short of 2.5 million, the level at which Beshear has said he will relax all capacity restrictions on businesses and venues. He lifted the outdoor mask mandate Monday, the day before the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued similar guidance.

Kentuckians can visit to find a vaccination site.

The bright spot, relatively speaking, in Friday’s report was the low number of deaths: four, all from regular health-department reports. That brought the state’s Covid-19 death toll to 6,501 and the 14-day average of deaths dropped to seven per day, the lowest in more than six months.
In other pandemic news Friday:
  • Counties with more than 10 new cases were Jefferson, 140; Bullitt, 47; Fayette, 46; Boone, 40; Daviess, 26; Warren, 26; Kenton, 18; Hardin, 17; McCracken, 17; Mason, 14; Pulaski, 13; and Christian and Clark, 11.
  • Kentucky hospitals reported 439 Covid-19 patients, 17 more than Thursday; 101 of them (up 4) were in intensive care; and 44 (down 1) were on a ventilator.
  • Hospitals in the Lake Cumberland hospital-readiness region reported 93% of their intensive0care beds occupied; the next highest region was Barren River, at 75%.
  • The newly listed fatalities were a Knox County man, 84, who died March 30; a Laurel County woman, 78, who died Jan. 19; a Pike County man, 65, who died April 16; and a Spencer County woman, 51, who died April 22.
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