Pandemic trend remains favorable; UK pediatrician encourages youth to get vaccinated, get antibody treatment if test positive

State Dept. for Public Health map, adapted by Kentucky Health News; to enlarge, click on it.

By Melissa Patrick
Kentucky Health News

Monday’s coronavirus numbers in Kentucky are all good: Cases are down, the positive-test rate is down, hospital numbers dropped again, the infection and death averages continue to inch their way down.

The state reported 722 new cases of the coronavirus Monday, the fewest daily number since July 25. That lowered the seven-day average to 2,086, the lowest since Aug. 8.

The percentage of Kentuckians testing positive for the virus in the past seven days continued to drop. On Monday, it was 8.26%, the lowest since July 27.

Hospital numbers also continue to drop. Kentucky hospitals reported 1,399 Covid-19 patients, down 115 from Friday; 418 of them in intensive care patients, down 48; and 266 Covid-19 patients on mechanical ventilation, down 44.

Eight of the state’s 10 hospital regions are using 80% or more of their intensive-care beds, with Northern Kentucky still at 100% capacity. The daily report list the counties in each region.

Kentucky’s seven-day infection rate fell to ninth among states, according to The New York Times’ analysis of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data. The Times reports a 39% drop in new Kentucky cases over the last two weeks, the biggest drop among the top 15 states.

The state reports that its seven-day rate of daily new cases dropped again, to 39.2 daily cases per 100,000 residents. The state has 58 counties at or above that level and four of them with rates more than double the state rate: Whitley, 87.5; Perry, 82.1; Mercer, 82.1; and Pendleton, 81.3.

According to the state’s daily report, two of the state’s 120 counties have rates in the yellow zone, between 1 and 10 cases per 100,000, considered a moderate transmission level: Morgan, at 7.5, and Elliott, at 7.6. Seventeen counties are in orange, between 10 to 25 cases per 100,000, considered substantial transmission. All others are in red, with more than 25 cases per 100,000.

The state has added 97 Covid-19 deaths to its list since Friday, for a pandemic toll of 9,150. In the last seven days, it has averaged just under 35 deaths a day; in the last 14 days, the average is just under 41 per day.

Vaccines and treatment for children: Calling it the “single most effective tool” to prevent infection and severe illness, the medical director for pediatric infection prevention and control at Kentucky Children’s Hospital, encouraged eligible children to get vaccinated.

Dr. Sean McTigue noted that the “vast majority” of the University of Kentucky hospital’s Covid-19 patients have been over the age of 12, the age of vaccine eligibility, and not one has been immunized.

In a press conference, McTigue also encouraged parents and guardians of youth who test positive for the virus to call their primary care provider as soon as they test positive to see if their child is eligible for monoclonal antibody treatments, which must be given within 10 days of the onset of symptoms.

Monoclonal antibodies boost a person’s immune response to the virus and often keep them from developing severe illness that requires hospitalization.

McTigue said most of the hospital’s young Covid-19 patients have been eligible for the treatment, largely because they are overweight.

“The majority of our children with severe or critical Covid have been obese, and particularly the ones who have gotten more critically ill have been obese,” he said.

In Kentucky, nearly 20% of cases have been in people under 20.

So far, 2.7 million Kentuckians have received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccination, which amounts to 61% of the total population or 74% of those 18 and older. Forty-seven percent of Kentucky’s youth between the ages of 12 and 15 and 52% of those 16 and 17 have received at least one shot.
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