Ky. vaccination rate is more than 7 times the new-case rate, which keeps dropping, along with positive-test rate and hospitalizations

Chart by The Washington Post, adapted by Kentucky Health News

By Al Cross
Kentucky Health News

Vaccinations are up, and new cases and hospitalizations are down, but Kentucky hospitals remain stressed by the pandemic — and the state’s new-case rate remains seventh in the nation, mainly due to several hot spots.

In the last seven days, coronavirus vaccinations in Kentucky have averaged more than 15,000 a day, a 19 percent increase from the previous seven-day period, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data analyzed by The Washington Post.

The Post says 53.2% of Kentuckians are fully vaccinated, which ranks 25th among the states, just behind Illinois at 54.1%. The only other adjoining state with a better rate is Virginia, at 61.3.%.

The University of Kentucky, which is requiring students to get tested weekly if they are not vaccinated, reported that 85% of students are fully or partially vaccinated. Counting UK employees, the campus-wide rate is 87%.

The state reported 2,145 new cases of the virus Friday, lowering the seven-day rolling average by 282, to 2,143 per day. That’s the lowest in two months. The vaccination rate is now more than seven times the new-case rate.

The state’s daily report said its seven-day rate of daily new cases fell to 40.71 per 100,000 residents, the lowest in two months and two days. Of the 120 counties, 104 remain in red on the state map, with rates above 25.

County rates above the state rate are: Perry, 94.8; Harlan, 94.5; Pendleton, 93; Whitley, 89.4; Rockcastle, 86.4; Owsley, 84.1; Robertson, 81.3; Mercer, 78.2; Green, 77; Taylor, 74.8; Wolfe, 73.9; Muhlenberg, 73.2; Lawrence, 70.9; Adair 67; Bell, 65.3; Grayson, 64.9; Knox, 62.8; Estill, 61.8; Pike, 61.5; Garrard, 61.5; Powell, 61.3; Floyd, 60.2; Leslie, 59.3; Meade, 59; Monroe, 57.7; Allen, 57.6; Madison, 57.5; Russell, 56.6; Jackson, 55.7; Metcalfe, 55.3; Henry, 54.9; Rowan, 53.1; Greenup, 52.9; Boyd, 51.1; Trimble, 50.6; Nelson, 50.1; Harrison, 49.9; Breathitt, 49.8; Hart, 49.5; Ohio, 48.8; Simpson, 48.5; Carroll, 48.4; Lincoln, 47.7; Carter, 47.4; Logan, 46.9; Grant, 46.2; Marion, 46; Gallatin, 45.1; Bracken, 44.7; Henderson, 44.2; Nicholas, 43.2; McCreary, 43.1; Martin, 42.1; and Bourbon, 41.9.

Despite McCreary County’s nearly average rating on the state report, its new-case rate still ranks first in the nation on The New York Times‘ list of hot-spot counties, and stands out on a National Geographic map, both of which are based on CDC data. The state has attributed the disparities to differences in methodology, including removal of duplicate test results, but has not fulfilled a request for further clarification. McCreary County, on the Tennessee border south of Somerset, is the site of a large federal prison, which could account for some of the difference.

National Geographic map, adapted by Kentucky Health News, shows McCreary and Green counties among those with high rates of new virus cases, more than 1 per 50 residents; to enlarge, click on it.

The Times’ hot-spot list incudes several other Kentucky counties, topped by Green, which ranks fourth; Whitley, sixth; Perry, 13th; Harlan, 22nd; Casey, 28th; Pendleton, 33rd; and Grayson, 34th.

Kentucky hospitals reported 1,514 Covid-19 patients, 64 fewer than Thursday, with 466 in intensive care and 310 on mechanical ventilation, down six and three, respectively.

The Northern Kentucky hospital region continues to report its intensive-care units fully occupied. Four other regions reported using more than 90% of their ICU capacity, and four others were above 80%.

The state reported 31 more Covid-19 deaths, raising Kentucky’s pandemic toll to 9,053. Deaths are the lagging indicator of the pandemic; the leading indicator, the share of Kentuckians testing positive for the virus in the last seven days, fell again, to 8.5%, the lowest since July 28.

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