State reports 51 more Covid-19 deaths; other Kentucky pandemic metrics fall, but hot spots remain and hospitals are still stressed

Kentucky Health News graph; daily case numbers are from initial, unadjusted state reports

By Al Cross

Kentucky Health News
The pandemic has been on the decline in Kentucky for three weeks, but the state still has many hot spots, its hospitals remain under stress from Covid-19 patients, and the daily average of deaths remains high.
The state reported 51 more Covid-19 deaths, raising Kentucky’s pandemic toll to 8,972 and making it likely that the number would exceed 9,000 Thursday, since the state is averaging 36 deaths per day over the last seven days and 39 per day over the last 14 days. Gov. Andy Beshear said in a Facebook post that one of Wednesday’s dead was 39 years old.
Kentucky’s seven-day infection rate still ranks seventh among the states, and McCreary County has the nation’s highest infection rate, 211 daily cases per 100,000 residents, according to The New York Times‘ analysis of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data. The newspaper ranks Green and Whitley counties fifth and seventh, respectively, and Grayson and Perry 21st and 23rd.
The state Department for Public Health, which says it uses different reporting methodologies, including removal of duplicate test results, reports very different rates for counties. It ranks McCreary only 19th in the state and puts Whitley fifth and Green eighth. It ranks Owsley County first, at 158.6 cases per 100,000, followed by Taylor at 127 and Harlan at 120.3.
The rest of the top 20 counties on state’s daily report are: Rockcastle, 107; Whitley, 103.6; Pendleton, 99.9; Perry, 99.8; Green, 86.2; Grayson, 84.9; Lawrence, 80.2; Muhlenberg, 79.3; Robertson, 74.5; Mercer, 73.6; Garrard, 72; Wolfe, 71.9; Knox, 71.1; Harrison, 70.3; Bell, 70.2; McCreary, 67.2; and

Henry, 66.4.

The state reported 2,696 new cases of the coronavirus Wednesday, 114 more than Tuesday, but the seven-day rolling average of new cases fell by 171, to 2,408 per day. The share of Kentuckians testing positive for the virus in the last seven days declined a bit, to 9.11 percent.
Kentucky hospitals reported 1,634 Covid-19 patients, 43 fewer than Tuesday; 476 of them in intensive care, down 18; and 314 on mechanical ventilation, down nine; but hospitals remained under stress.
Eight of the state’s 10 hospital regions (all but the east and northeast) reported more than 90% of beds in their intensive-care units occupied. Northern Kentucky continued to report all of its ICU beds in use. The western region (Christian, Daviess, Hancock, Henderson, Hopkins, McLean, Muhlenberg, Ohio, Todd, Union and Webster counties) reported 58% of its ICU beds were occupied by Covid-19 patients. That share was 50% in the southeast region (Bell, Clay, Harlan, Jackson, Knox, Laurel, Rockcastle and Whitley counties).
Daily vaccination rates in the state continued on a rough plateau, with an average of 15,411 per day over the last seven days, according to CDC data analyzed by The Washington Post. The paper says Franklin County leads in full vaccination, with 69% of its population, 82% of those 18 and older, and 100% of those 65 and older.
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