New Ky. virus cases up, national ranking up, positive-test rate up; vaccinations down; masks were mainly down or absent at Derby

Masks were hard to find in the Churchill Downs infield. (New York Times photo by Christian Hansen)

By Melissa Patrick
Kentucky Health News

Saturday’s pandemic report for Kentucky isn’t good. New cases are up. The positive-test rate is up. The state’s national ranking of daily new cases over the last seven days is up. And vaccinations are down.

The state reported 646 new cases of the coronavirus Saturday, bringing the seven-day rolling average up to 596. That’s 22 more than yesterday, up for the third day in a row and the highest in 12 days.

The statewide rate of daily new cases over the last seven days is 11.38 per 100,000 residents, the highest in 10 days. The New York Times ranks Kentucky 27th among the states for this measure, the highest since March 24.

Counties with rates more than double the statewide rate were Powell, 60.1; Robertson, 47.4; Lewis, 37.7; Bath, 35.4; Todd, 31.4; Hickman, 29.4; Menifee, 28.6; Simpson, 26.9; and Mason, 23.4.

The percentage of Kentuckians testing positive for the virus in the past seven days is the highest it’s been in 11 days, at 3.4%. This rate is a leading indicator, which means an increase in cases could soon follow.

Conditions are ripe for an increase, so it will be important to watch happens in the coming weeks. Gov. Andy Beshear has lifted the outdoor mask mandate for crowds of 1,000 or less, and a gorgeous Derby weekend included a race that appeared to have a crowd that arrived at Churchill Downs with masks but soon ditched them.

“Mostly they were nowhere to be found,” Daniel Desrochers and Jeremy Chisenhall report for the Lexington Herald-Leader. Louisville’s WHAS-TV said Churchill Downs did not return its inquiry about whether repeat violators of the mask mandate would be removed from the premises.

“The official attendance of the Derby was 51,838 spectators—the largest crowd at an American sporting event since the pandemic began,” Sports Illustrated reports. “It tops Alabama’s spring football game, which hosted 47,218 fans several weeks ago.”

Meanwhile, vaccination rates remain slow. The state’s daily vaccination report shows 1,767,469 Kentuckians have received at least one dose of a vaccine, with only 6,264 of them given on Friday.

The state reported 12 more Covid-19 deaths, nine from regularly reported health-department reports and three from the ongoing audit of death certificates. The state’s death toll is now 6,513. As usual for a weekend, the state did not issue an itemized list of the newly added fatalities by age, county, sex and date.

Kentucky hospitals reported 448 Covid-19 patients, 11 more than Friday; 115 of them in intensive care, up 11; and 48 of those on a ventilator, up 4.

The Lake Cumberland hospital readiness region is using 91% of its intensive-care beds, but none of the nine others are above the 80% level of concern. The Barren River region is closest, at 75%.

Counties with 10 or more new cases were Jefferson, 116; Fayette, 39; Boone, 38; Shelby, 26; Hardin, 20; Oldham and Scott, 19; McCracken, 18; Henry, 17; Daviess, 16; Warren, 15; Boyd, 14; Powell, 12; and Christian and Hopkins, 11.

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