New virus cases keep slowing, but patients in ICUs and on ventilation rise slightly as ICU beds remain in short supply

Ky. Dept. for Public Health map, adapted by Ky. Health News; for the interactive version, click here.

By Al Cross
Kentucky Health News

The pace of the pandemic in Kentucky continued to slow slightly on Friday, but the number of very sick and critically sick patients went up, intensive-care beds continued to run short, and Lexington mourned a 15-year-old dead of Covid-19.
The state reported 3,941 new cases of the coronavirus, lowering the seven-day rolling average by 80, to 3,489, the lowest in a month. The New York Times ranks the state’s infection rate fifth among the states, behind Alaska, West Virginia, Wyoming and Montana. Kentucky is the only state in the top five with a declining rate (8 percent) over the last two weeks.
However, six counties in Kentucky were in the top 12 in the nation, and 14 of the top 25, according to the Times analysis of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data. Russell was second (behind Andrews County, Texas), Whitley was third, Magoffin seventh, Perry eighth, Taylor 11th, Harlan 12th, McCreary 15th, Knox 16th, Barren 18th, Letcher 20th, Monroe 21st, Metcalfe 23rd, Rockcastle 24th and Wayne 25th. All are in Appalachia except Barren and Taylor, which border the region.
The state Department for Public Health, which uses different reporting methodologies, reported a seven-day infection rate of 68.45 daily cases per 100,000 residents, down for the ninth straight day. Counties with rate more than double that rate on the state report were Magoffin, 180.9; Whitley, 171.4; Owsley, 161.8; Leslie, 157.7; Harlan, 157.6; Monroe, 156.9; Letcher, 145.8; Barren, 143.3; Metcalfe, 137.6; and Rockcastle, 132.6.
The Barren River hospital region (Allen, Barren, Butler, Edmonson, Hart, Logan, Metcalfe, Monroe, Simpson and Warren counties) reported all of its intensive-care-unit beds in use, and only one of the 10 regions, the northeast, reported fewer than 90% of its ICU beds occupied. The western region (Christian, Daviess, Hancock, Henderson, Hopkins, McLean, Muhlenberg, Ohio, Todd, Union and Webster counties) reported 65% of its ICU capacity being used by Covid-19 patients; others ranged from 34% to 56%.
Overall, 93% of ICU beds were in use, and only 107 were available.
Hospitals reported 2,211 Covid-19 patients, 12 fewer than Thursday, but the number in intensive care and on mechanical ventilation went up; the ICU census rose to 632, from 625; and those on ventilators rose to 429 from 424.
The state reported 26 more Covid-19 deaths, for a total of 8,492. Two fatalities were in their 20s, and a 15-year-old boy in Lexington died of the disease Thursday, WKYT-TV reports. Gov. Andy Beshear ordered flags to be flown at half-staff in memory of student C.J. Gordon Jr. and all Covid victims.
Daily coronavirus vaccinations in Kentucky continued a slow decline, according to CDC data analyzed by The Washington Post. The latest daily number was 11,600 doses, lowering the seven-day average to 11,242. That was 11% lower than the previous seven-day period.
CDC Director Rochelle Walensky slightly expanded her advisers’ recommendation of who should qualify for a booster shot of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, adding “front-line workers like nurses, teachers and grocery-store employees, in addition to Americans 65 and older and “many adults with underlying health conditions,” The Wall Street Journal reports.
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