Case numbers show the pandemic in Kentucky is on a decline, but cases in children are more than a quarter of the daily total

Ky. Health News graph; daily case numbers are initial, unadjusted reports. (Click image to enlarge)

By Melissa Patrick
Kentucky Health News

Tuesday’s Covid-19 numbers in Kentucky offered yet another day of hope that the state has hit its peak of the Omicron-variant surge and is on a decline: fewer new cases of the coronavirus, a declining positive-test rate and stable hospital numbers. But 28% of the new cases were in Kentuckians 18 and younger.

“While we hope this decline continues, we need more Kentuckians to get vaccinated, get boosted and wear a mask indoors to make sure these numbers continue to go in the right direction,” Gov. Andy Beshear said on Facebook.

Kentucky reported 8,759 new coronavirus cases Tuesday, bringing the seven-day rolling average to 10,011, which is 19.4% less than it was seven days ago when it was 12,427. Six days ago, the state hit its seven-day record, 12,462.

Like the rest of the nation, many Kentucky children continue to be affected by the virus, with 2,457 of Tuesday’s new cases in people 18 and younger.

Nationwide, the weekly American Academy of Pediatrics report says more than 3.5 million child cases were reported in January: While the numbers were 30% lower in the week ended Jan. 27 than the week before, “Child cases this week remained extremely high, triple the peak level of the Delta surge in 2021.”

The younger a Kentuckian, the less likely he or she is to be vaccinated for Covid-19. Only 51% of 16- and 17-year-olds, 47% of 12-to-15-year-olds and 20% of 5-to-11-year-olds have received at least one dose of a vaccine.

Children under 5 are not yet eligible for a vaccine, but Pfizer and BioNTech said Tuesday that they are seeking emergency-use authorization for the first such vaccine for children younger than 5.

“Ultimately, we believe that three doses of the vaccine will be needed for children 6 months through 4 years of age to achieve high levels of protection against current and potential future variants,” Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said in a news release. “If two doses are authorized, parents will have the opportunity to begin a Covid-19 vaccination series for their children while awaiting potential authorization of a third dose.”

The share of Kentuckians testing positive for the virus in the past seven days dropped again, to 27.51%. The rate is about where it was three weeks ago, after declining for then nine days prior to that.

Hospital numbers are about the same as they were seven days ago. Kentucky hospitals reported 2,401 Covid-19 patients, 12 fewer than Monday, with 443 in intensive care (down 11) and 244 on mechanical ventilation (up 12).

Nine of the state’s 10 hospital regions are using at least 80% of their intensive-care beds, with four above 90%. Northern Kentucky dropped to 91% after being at 100% Monday.

The seven-day infection rate is 178.3 daily cases per 100,000 people, down from 193.8 on Monday. Four Kentucky counties have rates above 300 per 100,000: Clay, 326.6; Mercer, 313.9; Knox, 305.5; and Muhlenberg, 305.1.

Kentucky again ranked third among the states when it comes to cases per 100,000 people, according to The New York Times. The Times placed Mercer, Muhlenberg and Hopkins counties among the top 10 counties for case rates; Clay County ranked 12th. The Times uses Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data, which is calculated differently than the figures published by the state.

The state reported 15 more Covid-19 deaths, bringing Kentucky’s pandemic death toll to 12,975. The death reports have averaged about 25 per day for the last few weeks.

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