Cases and hospital numbers tick up again; state’s 7-day infection rate is second in nation; positive-test rate declines again

State Department for Public Health graph; EUA is the acronym for emergency-use authorization.
The federal government is now running the antibody supplies through states due to heavy demand.

By Melissa Patrick
Kentucky Health News

Kentucky reported 4,030 new cases of the coronavirus on Tuesday, bringing the seven-day rolling average of cases to 4,136. That’s 239 higher than the average stood Monday, when it was depressed by a low Labor Day figure. Of the new cases, 28.6% were in people 18 and under.

The New York Times now ranks Kentucky second for daily case rates, with a rate of 118 daily cases per 100,000 residents over the last seven says. Tennessee is ranked first with a rate of 160 per 100,000.

The state, which uses a different methodology, reports a seven-day case rate of 84.56 per 100,000 residents, returning to the level seen a week ago. Counties with rates more than double that rate are Whitley, 200.5; Perry, 191.3; Monroe, 185.1; Knox, 175.7; Leslie, 175.0; Rockcastle, 173.7; Powell, 173.4; and Harlan, 171.4.

However, the share of Kentuckians testing positive for the virus in the past seven days has dropped for six consecutive days, to 13.45 percent, but Gov. Andy Beshear has said that could be due to more testing.

Hospital numbers ticked up again Tuesday, with 2,514 Covid-19 patients, up 68 from Monday; 666 patients in intensive care, up 20; and 428 on mechanical ventilation, up 17. The Covid-19 patient count was second only to the 2,541 reported Friday.

The northeast and easternmost hospital-readiness regions continue to be the only two of the state’s 10 regions to be using less than 81.6% of their intensive-care beds.

One of the best ways to stay out of the hospital if you get Covid-19 is to see if you qualify for monoclonal antibody treatments, which must be given soon after infection as a way to help prevent severe symptoms from developing in those who are considered high risk.

Today the federal government announced a shortage of the antibodies, due to extraordinary demand, and said it will require state governments to supervise the distribution of the treatments instead of health care providers ordering them directly, according to a news release from the governor’s office.

Yesterday, Health Commissioner Steven Stack urged Kentuckians to get vaccinated, noting that the antibodies are synthetic, laboratory-created antibodies that give the body a temporary immune boost, but do not teach the body to create its own antibodies as a vaccination does.

“Monoclonal antibodies are an important tool, but we have another alternative, vaccinations. Vaccines prime your immune system to create natural antibodies that your own body will produce to create a natural immune response that then can protect you for at least eight months or more,” said Stack. “It’s a lot easier to get vaccinated than to get monoclonal antibodies.”

During the seven days ending Tuesday, 3,642 treatment courses of monoclonal antibodies were used in Kentucky and the state’s hospitals have 9,363 monoclonal antibody treatment courses on hand, the release said.

Kentucky offers such treatments in 139 locations. Senate Bill 2, recently passed in the special session, directs the state to create more monoclonal-antibody treatment centers.

The state reported 24 more Covid-19 deaths on Tuesday, bringing Kentucky’s pandemic death toll to 8,095.

As of Tuesday afternoon, at least 99 of Kentucky’s 171 school districts have said they will continue to require masks. Around three-fourths of Kentucky’s public school students attend a district that will require universal masking,” Olivia Krauth reports for the Louisville Courier Journal.

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