30% of new cases Fri. were 18 and younger; infections close schools; Ky. rate is 6th in U.S.; state’s ventilator count sets record

Screenshot of interactive New York Times map shows how Kentucky's infection rate is sixth in U.S.

Screenshot of interactive New York Times map shows how Kentucky’s infection rate is sixth in U.S.

By Al Cross
Kentucky Health NewsAs the pandemic keeps accelerating in Kentucky, and almost all schools are in session, the coronavirus keeps infecting more young people. And in some places, so many are infected that schools are closing.Kentucky reported another 3,869 cases of the coronavirus Friday, 1,158 of them in people 18 and younger. That’s 29.9 percent, which appears to be the highest percentage of young victims ever on the state’s daily report.

Fayette County Public Schools reported 208 cases in students through Thursday, 110 of them between ages 5 and 11, not eligible for vaccination. At the schools’ request, the local health department held vaccination clinics.

Infections force students into quarantine. The school district said Jessie Clark Middle School reported 10 students and four staff testing positive since the first day of school, leading to quarantines for 304 students, reports Valarie Honeycutt Spears of the Lexington Herald-Leader.

Spears also reports that Magoffin County Schools will be closed through Aug. 29 due to coronavirus infections and will not offer remote instruction. The district and Jenkins Independent Schools “are among the latest districts to tell kids and staff to stay out of schools for extended periods,” Spears reports. “The Lee County and Knott County school districts have also canceled classes this school year for various periods as a result of the coronavirus case surge.”

Kentucky’s surge has given it the sixth highest infection rate among the states over the last two weeks, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data analyzed by The New York Times. The states with higher rates are Mississippi, Louisiana, Florida, Arkansas and Alabama. After Kentucky, the next three states are also in the South: Georgia, South Carolina and Tennessee.

Daily numbers: Friday’s new-case number was the 16th highest daily total of the pandemic, but didn’t raise the seven-day average, mainly because there was a higher number eight days earlier. However, hospital numbers, which Gov. Andy Beshear says are the most worrisome, kept rising.

Kentucky hospitals reported 1,780 Covid-19 patients, 72 more than Thursday. If just 38 more cases are reported Saturday, the state will reach a new high for hospitalizations, breaking the record of 1,817 set Dec. 17; the average daily gain this week has been 61. The state won’t issue another report until Monday.

Of the 1,780 Covid-19 patients, 487 were in intensive care, the third straight record high, and 255 were on mechanical ventilation, breaking the record of 254 set on Dec. 17.

The state reported six more Covid-19 deaths, plus 34 identified through a review of death certificates received after Feb. 1, bringing the death toll to 7,517.

Yonts (Photo: Jonathan Palmer, CJ)

Ex-legislator dies of Covid-19: Former state Rep. Brent Yonts of Greenville, who had been battling Covid-19 for weeks, died of it Friday. He was 72. Friends and family said he was fully vaccinated.

“The fact that Yonts was vaccinated and still died of the coronavirus shouldn’t dissuade you from getting the vaccine,” Courier Journal columnist Joe Gerth writes. “Fact is, Yonts was statistically far less likely to catch Covid and die than a 72-year-old man who was not vaccinated. He was just unlucky.”

Gerth also wrote of Yonts, “He was smart. He usually seemed to have the best interests of his constituents at heart. That’s a fine eulogy for any elected official. I wish it could be said of more.”

Ellan Yonts Suetholz told the newspaper that her mother, Greenville Mayor Janice Yonts, is fully vaccinated and has tested negative since her husband’s symptoms started. “It’s a difficult situation to understand why someone like my dad who was fully vaccinated ended up dying from the virus,” she said, but the family still wants “everyone to understand that the vaccine does work.”

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