Ky. Health News graph; case numbers are from initial, unadjusted daily reports; click on it to enlarge.
By Al Cross
Kentucky Health News
Kentucky shattered its recently set records for new coronavirus cases Friday, reporting more than 11,000, the first time the number has had five digits.
The state’s daily report, the last one until Monday, showed 11,096 new cases, raising the seven-day rolling average to 6,984. That’s 86 percent higher than it was one week earlier, and 200 percent higher than two weeks ago.
The top five highest days for new cases have occurred in the last seven days, as the highly contagious Omicron variant keeps spreading with the unwitting help of unmasked, unvaccinated, and vaccinated but unboosted Kentuckians.
“Omicron is burning through Kentucky, and for the third straight day, we have an all-time high in cases,” Gov. Andy Beshear said in a Facebook video. “Get your booster. Wear your mask, This thing is spreading like crazy. Protect yourself.”
The Omicron fire is burning hottest in the state’s urban areas. The counties with the top seven infection rates are all metropolitan. Jefferson County leads with 236 daily cases per 100,000 residents in the last seven days. Other top counties are Fayette, 226 per 100,000; Oldham, 191; Campbell, 190; Jessamine, 184; Boyd, 181; and Shelby, 173.
The state’s overall seven-day infection rate is 142 per 100,000, double what it was a week ago. Its rate is 21st in the nation, and its 14-day increase is now higher than the nation’s, after many days below it, according to The New York Times‘ breakdown of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data.
The percentage of Kentuckians testing positive for the virus in the last seven days also set a new record: 24.45%, less than a percentage point above the previous seven-day rate.
Health experts say the more important numbers to watch are from hospitals. Omicron cases seem to be milder than those from the previously dominant Delta variant, but there are so many cases that hospitals could be overrun, and some have scaled back surgeries to make sure they have beds available.
Kentucky hospitals reported 1,856 Covid-19 patients Friday, 73 more than Thursday. That’s 24% more than a week earlier and 48% more than two weeks earlier.
Intensive-care units reported 423 Covid-19 patients, 21 more than the day before, with 223 on mechanical ventilation, down by four.
Seven of the state’s hospital regions reported more than 90% of their ICU beds occupied; Northern Kentucky was again at 100%. The region with its ICUs most heavily occupied by Covid-19 patients is the far west, around Paducah, at 46%; overall, 97% of the region’s ICU beds were occupied.
Perhaps reflecting the high new-case rate in Jefferson County, the Louisville hospital region had the highest share of its inpatient capacity used by Covid-19 patients, 18%. Overall, it was at 73% capacity and its ICUs were 93% full.
St. Claire Regional Medical Center in Morehead said it ran out of monoclonal antibodies used to treat people with Omicron.
The state reported 39 more Covid-19 deaths Friday, raising Kentucky’s pandemic toll to 12,358.