Virus cases keep falling, but not as quickly as in most states; Kentucky’s infection rate is seventh highest in the nation

New York Times map, adapted by Kentucky Health News; for a larger version, click on it.

By Melissa Patrick
Kentucky Health News
Like much of the nation, Kentucky’s coronavirus case numbers and positive-test rate continue to drop, but its new-case rate remains in the top 10 because it’s not falling as quickly as rates in most other states.
Kentucky reported 6,640 new virus cases Tuesday, lowering the seven-day average down to 6,252. While today’s new cases are higher than the average, the average is down more than 300 because today’s new-case number is more than 2,000 under last Tuesday’s count.
The seven-day infection rate is below 1 daily case per 1,000 residents (99.15 cases per 100,000, the standard metric) for first time since Jan. 2. It was double that nine days ago, and a record 237 just 18 days ago. One county, Carlisle, is below 25, taking it out of the red zone on the state infection map.
Nine counties continue to have rates above 200 per 100,000 residents: Clay, 279.2; Powell, 246.2; Owsley, 242.7; Estill, 242.0; Rockcastle, 234.5; Lee, 227.7; Letcher, 226.7; Whitley, 202.5; and Floyd, 201.1.
The New York Times ranks Kentucky’s infection rate seventh among the states, down from fourth on Monday. The Times reports that Kentucky has seen a 62% decline in cases in the last 14 days. That is exactly the national average decline, but 30 other states have seen their rates fall faster in the last two weeks.
New York Times chart shows Kentucky’s new-case rate seventh; for a larger version, click on it.
Scott County, Tennessee, on the Kentucky border, has the nation’s 10th highest rate, according to the Times, which uses Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data. It ranks Clay and Perry counties 22nd and 28th, respectively. State and CDC rankings differ from due to different methodologies; for example, the state says it removes duplicate test results from its calculations.
The share of Kentuckians testing positive for the virus in the past seven days continues to drop steadily. Tuesday’s rate was 22.97%, down from 23.51% on Monday and 28.49% a week ago.
Kentucky hospitals reported 2,136 Covid-19 patients, up 12 from Monday. An increase is typical for recent Tuesdays (numbers are recorded at midnight), but today’s number is 11% fewer than a week ago. There are 416 Covid-19 patients in intensive care (up two) and 208 on mechanical ventilation (up one).
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%. The Lake Cumberland region is at 100% capacity.
The state reported 26 more Covid-19 deaths, bringing Kentucky’s pandemic death toll to 13,182. One of the victims was only 40 years old, Gov. Andy Beshear said on Facebook.
The 14-day average of reported deaths has risen every day in the last week, from 25.8 to 28.3 per day. The high has been 53.5 on Dec. 13.
Nationally, the Omicron variant of the virus has driven the number of daily deaths above the height of last spring, “before vaccines were widely available,” The Washington Post reports. “Omicron has been particularly lethal to people over 75, the unvaccinated and the medically vulnerable, according to doctors and public health officials.”
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