Pandemic keeps growing in Ky., but Beshear sees a peak in 10-14 days; Harlan County ball games called ‘super-spreader events’

The governor used this graph to show that very few fully vaccinated Kentuckians under 60 have died of Covid-19 since the Omicron variant began raising numbers in July. (Screenshot; click to enlarge)

By Al Cross
Kentucky Health News

Kentucky reported its second-highest daily number of new coronavirus cases Thursday, raising the seven-day rolling average to a new record. The percentage of Kentuckians testing positive for the virus also set a record.
The state reported 13,614 new cases, boosting the seven-day average by 620, or 5.8%, to 11,385, 241% higher than three weeks ago. Cases among Kentuckians 18 and younger remained high; they were 26.5% of the total.
The positive-test rate for the last seven days is 31.37%, nearly double what it was three weeks ago.

“Omicron is continuing to spread at a rapid rate,” said Gov. Andy Beshear, referring to the dominant variant of the virus. “We expect this week to probably be our highest week ever,” presumably meaning the number of new cases.

“We think we are a week and a half to two weeks to seeing the peak of Omicron. Please protect yourself, and know it’s gonna be a couple of weeks where there’s still a whole lot after that, even if the numbers are going down.”
Beshear also noted the rising number of hospital patients with Covid-19,which he said should be “of great concern” to everyone because they might not be able to get the medical care they need when they need it.
Kentucky hospitals reported 2,298 Covid-19 patients, 42 more than Wednesday, with 434 of them in intensive care (down 21) and 271 on mechanical ventilation (up 19). Nine of the 10 hospital regions reported more than 80% of intensive-care beds in use, with four above 90%. Northern Kentucky was at 100%.
“We are getting close to the levels of Delta hospitalization, when we were overrun,” Beshear said. “We are struggling in that hospital capacity, and we need everybody’s help.” At the peak of last summer’s surge caused by the Delta variant, on Sept. 10, hospitals had 2,541 Covid-19 patients.
Beshear said the way to stay out of the hospital, or dying of Covid-19, is to get vaccinated and get a booster shot.
“People boosted have an incredibly low chance of going to the hospital,” he said, adding that deaths since Omicron arrived are almost entirely among unvaccinated people. “Almost everyone under 60 who has passed away from Covid has been unvaccinated, he said. “If you are under 60, this is the challenge to surviving this pandemic.”
The state attributed 20 more deaths to Covid-19 Thursday, raising Kentucky’s pandemic death toll to 12,659.
The governor also promoted testing, now available with free, at-home tests that can be ordered from the website.
State table shows percentages of age groups
with at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine.

He said you need a test “if you have symptoms, or within five days after coming into close contact with someone who has Covid, or if you are going to gather with a group,” especially one with vulnerable people.

“Testing is one step, and only one step, to protect yourself,” he said. “The best step: getting vaccinated ad boosted; wearing a well-fitted mask when gathering indoors; and continuing to wash your hands often and practice social distancing.”
Beshear said at least 1,000 Kentuckians a day are getting newly vaccinated, but “5-to-11-year-olds [are] still way too low.” Only 19% of that age group have received even one dose of a vaccine.
In other pandemic news:
  • The Harlan County Health Department said Wednesday afternoon that it was “overwhelmed” with more than 200 coronavirus cases that had not yet been reported publicly and “pointed to recent basketball games as the source,” calling them “super-spreader events,” reports Bill Estep of the Lexington Herald-Leader. “County Judge-Executive Dan Mosley said the health department didn’t have enough staff to quickly contact everyone who tested positive after the ball games, so wanted to alert people to monitor for Covid symptoms and get tested.”
  • Fourth District U.S. Rep. Thomas Massie, a “frequent critic of Covid-19 mitigation efforts,” has tested positive for the virus, reports the Herald-Leader’s Austin Horn. “Massie announced his positive test on Twitter this Thursday, saying he had ‘cold/allergy symptoms’ for a day but seems to be ‘over it’ now. Massie shared that he has not been vaccinated against the virus at all, but guessed that his symptoms were mild due to a previous infection two years ago.” Massie wrote, “Seek doctors advice if you find yourself sick, because every case is unique and some cases are very serious. I will not be voting, meeting in person, or making public appearances until next week. I am not vaccinated or boosted. If trolls or media have other questions about my health status, the answer is most likely, ‘NUNYA’,” presumably meaning “none of your business.”
  • Lexington Mayor Linda Gorton said she and her husband had tested positive and were having mild symptoms, after having been fully vaccinated and boosted. “Gorton, a registered nurse, also wears masks in public settings,” reports the Herald-Leader’s Beth Musgrave.
  • About 50 students, campus workers and faculty members “entered a University of Louisville Board of Trustees meeting Thursday to deliver a petition to school leaders . . . demanding stricter safety precautions against Covid-19 and flexibility for remote work,” reports Billy Kobin of the Courier Journal. One student was allowed to speak early in the meeting.
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