Covid-19 numbers in Kentucky continue to go down, but the state’s infection rate is now the highest among the states

New York Times map, adapted by Ky. Health News; click on it to enlarge. Tennessee may seem as “hot” as Kentucky, but its metropolitan areas have lower rates, so it ranks only fifth among the states.

New York Times graphs, based on CDC data; click to enlarge
By Melissa Patrick
Kentucky Health News

Even as Kentucky’s Covid-19 numbers continued to drop Tuesday, the state’s infection rate became the highest among the states.

Kentucky has the highest seven-day rate, even with a 49 percent drop in new cases in the last 14 days, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data analyzed by The New York Times. Nationwide, the drop during that two-week period has been 66%. Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands have much higher rates, but are territories, not states, and are small.

The state report shows the state’s infection rate at 74.39 daily cases per 100,000 people, down from 79.74 on Monday. On the state infection map, most of Kentucky remains in red, for counties with more than 25 daily cases per 100,000 residents over seven days. Only six counties have rates under 25 per 100,000: Grant, 24.5; Boone, 21.6; Kenton, 21.4; Hickman, 19.6; Todd, 18.6; and Carlisle, 12. Two counties have rates over 200: Lee, 235; and Wolfe, 212.

Kentucky reported 4,051 new coronavirus cases Tuesday, lowering the seven-day rolling average by more than 9 percent, to 4,520. Nearly 28% of the new cases were in people 18 and younger. Tuesday, that rate was 30.6%.

While children have been less affected overall by the coronavirus, a study published Tuesday by the CDC found that Covid-19 hospitalization rates among children increased as Omicron became the predominant variant across the nation, especially among children under 5, who are not eligible to be vaccinated.

The study also showed that during both the Delta and Omicron predominance, hospitalization rates remained lower among fully vaccinated adolescents aged 12-17 than among unvaccinated adolescents.

“Vaccination of eligible persons, in addition to other prevention strategies such as masking, are critical to reducing the incidence of severe Covid-19 among children and adolescents,” the authors of the study wrote. “All persons who are eligible for vaccination should receive and stay up to date with Covid-19 vaccines to reduce the risk for severe disease for themselves and others with whom they come into contact, including children who are currently too young to be vaccinated.”

In Kentucky, less than 51% of adolescents between the age of 12 and 17 have received at least one dose of a vaccine and only 21% of those 5 to 11 have.

The Washington Post reports that Kentucky saw a 13% increase in daily vaccinations in the last week, giving an average of 4,758 doses per day.

So far, nearly 2.9 million Kentuckians have gotten at least one dose of a vaccine, or 64% of the total population; nearly 2.5 million are fully vaccinated, or 56% of the total population; and more than 1 million have gotten boosted, or nearly 43% of the eligible population.

The share of Kentuckians testing positive for the virus in the past seven days is 17.16%, down from 17.93% on Monday.

Kentucky hospitals reported 1,765 patients with Covid-19, with 322 in intensive care (no change) and 167 on mechanical ventilation, (up five). The total was 15 more than Monday, but Tuesdays often show an increase, reflecting Monday admissions; the total is 17.3% below last Tuesday.

For the first time in a long time, only six of the state’s 10 hospital regions are using at least 80% of their intensive-care beds, with two of them above 90%.

Deaths, a lagging indicator of the pandemic, are increasing. The state reported 34 more Covid-19 deaths, bringing Kentucky’s pandemic death toll to 13,450. One of the deaths was only 28 years old, according to Gov. Andy Beshear’s Facebook page. In the last 14 days, the state has reported 34 deaths per day; a week ago, the 14-day average was 28 per day.

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