A good news, bad news day in Kentucky: Covid-19 metrics keep falling, but our infection rate remains highest among the states

To enlarge this map, click on it. For the original New York Times map and data, click here.

By Melissa Patrick
Kentucky Health News

The good news is that the metrics of the pandemic in Kentucky keep falling, with new-case numbers about a third less than they were a week ago and the positive-test rate dropping almost a percentage point in one day. But the bad news is that Kentucky is still a hotbed for infection; its new-case rate remains the highest of any state.
Kentucky reported 5,166 new coronavirus cases Wednesday, bringing the seven-day rolling average down to 4,108 per day, which is 32% less than a week ago. Of today’s new cases, 26.5% are in people 18 and younger.
The share of Kentuckians testing positive for the virus in the past seven days dropped to 16.19% Wednesday, one of the biggest recent declines; on Tuesday, it was 17.16%.
The seven-day infection rate in Kentucky also continues to fall. Today, the state says it is 69.78 daily cases per 100,000 people, down from 74.39 on Tuesday. Today’s rate is about where it was Dec. 30, the third day of the latest surge.
Most of the state’s 120 counties still have what is considered a high rate of Covid-19 transmission, with more than 25 cases per 100,000 people. Two counties remain above 200: Lee, 287.5 and Perry, 203.5. Eight counties have less than 25 cases per 100,000:  Todd, 23.2; Campbell, 23.1; Grant, 21.1; Ballard, 19.9; Kenton, 18.5; Boone, 17.0; Hickman, 16.3; and Carlisle, 12.0.
The New York Times ranks Kentucky’s infection rate first among states for two days in a row, even though the rate has dropped 48% in the past 14 days. The Times uses Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data, which differs from state data due to different methodologies; for example, the state says it removes duplicate test results of individuals before calculating the rate.
The Times puts Perry County’s rate at 294 per 100,000, sixth in the nation. Floyd County, at 280, is ninth. Estill and Butler counties, at 261, are 14th and 15th, respectively.

On the brighter side, Kentucky has 21% fewer hospital patients with Covid-19 than a week ago. On Wednesday, hospitals reported 1,689 Covid-19 patients, 76 fewer than Tuesday, with 316 in intensive care (down six) and 155 on mechanical ventilation (down 12).

That said, eight of the state’s hospital regions are using at least 80% of their intensive-care beds, after falling to six regions on Wednesday. The easternmost region (Lee to Pike counties) and the Barren River region (which includes Bowling Green) were at 94% and 95%, respectively. These numbers only reflect capacity, and not the types of patients using them; the share of ICU capacity used by patients with Covid-19 ranges from 15% in the Lake Cumberland region to 36% in the easternmost region.
The state reported 32 more Covid-19 deaths, bringing the pandemic death toll in Kentucky to 14,482. The seven-day average of reported deaths is 38; it was 28 nine days ago. The 14-day average is 34.7, up from 28.3 nine days ago. Deaths are a lagging indicator of the pandemic.
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