Kentucky Covid-19 hospitalizations have biggest one-day drop in months; virus new-case rate keeps falling but remains 2nd in U.S.

New York Times graphs show Kentucky’s new-case rate is second highest. Click on image to enlarge.

By Melissa Patrick
Kentucky Health News

New coronavirus cases, Covid-19 hospitalizations and percentage of positive tests continued dropping in Kentucky Friday, but the state’s seven-day rate of new cases remained one of the highest in the nation.

The state reported 8,376 new coronavirus cases Friday, which reduced the seven-day rolling average by more than 100, to 7,636 per day. Of those, 20% were in people 18 and younger, a drop from earlier in the week when then rate was running around 28%.

The seven-day infection rate dropped to 135.68 daily cases per 100,000 residents, from 157.17 on Thursday. Kentucky’s rate continues to rank second among the states even with a 25% drop in cases in the last 14 days, because other states’ rates have declined faster, according to The New York Times. 

The share of Kentuckians testing positive for the virus in the past seven days dropped again, to 24.71%. This rate does not include any at-home tests.

One of the best ways to see the impact of Covid-19 on a community is to look at hospitalizations, and the good news is that they are continuing to decline.

Kentucky hospitals reported 2,345 Covid-19 patients Friday, 98 fewer than Thursday. This 4% drop is the largest one-day drop since several similar drops in late September and early October as the Delta surge waned.

Hospitals reported 422 Covid-19 patients in intensive care, only 18% of the total, the lowest in the 17 months Kentucky Health News has been tracking this metric; and 215 on mechanical ventilation.

Nine of the state’s 10 hospital regions are using at least 80% of their intensive care unit capacity, with four of them above 90%.

Kentucky reported 37 more Covid-19 deaths, bringing its pandemic death toll to 13,063. Two of the victims were 33 and 34 years old, Gov. Andy Beshear said on Facebook. Nationwide, the pandemic death toll hit 900,000 people on Friday, less than two months after passing the 800,000 mark.

In January, Covid-19 became the No. 2 leading cause of death in the U.S., behind heart disease, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. Heart disease is killing an average of 2,103 people every day and Covid-19 is killing 1,905 people every day. The third leading cause of death is cancer, killing 1,642 a day.

The best protection against hospitalization and death continues to be a vaccination and booster shot, but vaccination rates in Kentucky vary, with many counties still below 40% of residents with even one dose.

Statewide, 64% of Kentuckians have received at least one dose; 55% are fully vaccinated, not including boosters; and 42% are boosted, which provides reliable protection against the prevailing variant of the virus.

The pace of vaccinations in Kentucky has slowed for most of the last two months. The seven-day average has dropped to 5,032 per day, about half what it was two weeks ago and less than a third of what it was a month ago.

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