Some pandemic metrics inch down in Ky.; hospital numbers up

Ky. Health News graph; new daily cases are initial, unadjusted numbers; to enlarge, click on it.

By Melissa Patrick
Kentucky Health News

The state reported 3,391 new coronavirus cases Tuesday, lowering the seven-day average by 91, to 3,912, almost to the level that it was eight days ago when it was lowered by the post-Labor Day lull.

But Kentucky hospitals reported 2,287 Covid-19 patients, 33 more than Monday; 664 were in intensive care, up 10; and 445 were on mechanical ventilation, down seven. Seven of the state’s 10 hospital-readiness regions are using more than 92% of their intensive-care beds.

The New York Times data shows Kentucky’s seven-day infection rate ranks third, behind Alaska and West Virginia, and says Russell and McCreary counties have the nation’s highest infection rates. National and state reporting differ due to methodology; the state eliminates duplicate tests.

The state reported a daily new-case rate over the last seven days of 75.74 per 100,000 residents. Counties with rates more than double that rate are Rockcastle, 196.8; Whitley, 190.7; Powell, 187.3; Harlan, 174.1; Monroe, 173.0; Metcalfe, 160.3; Barren, 159.2; Leslie, 156.2; Perry, 155.8; and Magoffin, 152.7.

The percentage of Kentuckians testing positive in the past seven days dropped for the 13th straight day, to 11.95%. Gov. Andy Beshear said last week that could be due to more testing, but Monday he said it could be a good sign.

The Kentucky Army National Guard has been deployed to University of Kentucky hospitals to give “non-clinical logistical and administrative support,” Alex Acquisto reports for the Lexington Herald-Leader. 

Chris Kenning of the Louisville Courier Journal offers a snapshot of how a clinic in Perry County is handling the pandemic in a county that has had some of the highest rates of in the nation.

“It never stops. We’re open 13 hours most days, and it never ends,” nurse Katie Cornett told Kenning, adding that patients tend to show up sicker with the Delta variant. “We have to send a lot to the hospital, unfortunately.”

The state reported 31 more Covid-19 deaths on Tuesday, bringing the death toll to 8,370. The seven-day average is 39 per day.

A third employee at Lee County Elementary School, counselor Rhonda Estes, has died from Covid-19. So did Matt Cockrell, a Shelby County High School teacher, Valarie Honeycutt Spears of the Herald-Leader reports, noting that a teacher union reported last week “that at least 33 Kentucky school employees had died of Covid-19. The latest two deaths raises that toll to at least 35.”

Getting more Kentuckians vaccinated would bring all of these numbers down. Kentucky is behind national vaccination rates, with 51.2% of its population fully vaccinated, and 59.8% with at least one dose. The national rates are 54.8% and 63.9%. Among the state’s vaccine-eligible population, those 12 and older, 70.2% have had at least one dose. In the last seven days, an average of 12,513 doses per day were administered, a 11% increase over the week before, according to The Washington Post.

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