State is almost out of the ‘red zone’ but still ranks 6th in nation, and many counties still have high coronavirus infection rates

Ky. Health News graph, from state data; click on it to enlarge.

By Al Cross
Kentucky Health News

Kentucky remains one of the states most affected by the coronavirus, even as most measures of the pandemic continue to decline.

The state reported 2,783 new cases of the virus Tuesday, lowering the seven-day average to 1,815, about half what it was nine days earlier. But its rate of new cases remained sixth in the nation, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data processed by The New York Times.

In Covid-19 hospital patients, now an official measurement of county-by-county risk, Kentucky ranks third, behind West Virginia and Georgia.

The state reported its seven-day infection rate as 26.5 daily cases per 100,000 residents, about half what it was eight days earlier — and almost out of the “red zone” for areas with rates above 25 per 100,000, officially considered a high level of transmission.

Counties with rates more than double the statewide rate are Wolfe, 169.7; Perry, 158.6; Menifee, 132.1; Leslie, 92.6; Crittenden, 92.5; Wayne, 82.2; Knott, 76.2; Lee, 71.4; Lawrence, 67.2; Breathitt, 66.7; Martin, 66.4; Magoffin, 64.6; Letcher, 63.6; McCreary, 61.4; Elliott, 58.9; Floyd, 58.6; Owsley, 58.2; Morgan 58; Harlan, 54.4; Robertson, 54.2; and Rowan, 53.7.

The share of Kentuckians testing positive for the virus in the last seven days is 8.1%, less than half the percentage of two weeks ago.

Kentucky hospitals reported 917 patients with Covid-19, about a third fewer than a week ago, with 179 in intensive care and 102 on mechanical ventilation.

While Covid-19 patients are still numerous, the disease has become much burdensome to hospitals. Only five of the 10 hospital regions reported more than 80% of their intensive-care beds in use. Northern Kentucky was at 100%, but only 4% of its intensive-care beds were occupied by Covid-19 patients.

The only rising measure of the pandemic in Kentucky is the most lagging indicator, Covid-19 deaths. The state attributed 44 more deaths to the disease Tuesday, raising the total to 13,900 and the seven-day average to 33.9 deaths per day. The 14-day average is 32.2 per day.

Gov. Andy Beshear’s Facebook page said one of the new fatalities was only 27 years old. “The governor encouraged Kentuckians to get vaccinated and boosted to protect themselves and others,” his page said.

Kentucky ranks 12th in deaths per 100,000 residents over the last 14 days, but almost all its border states rank higher: Ohio is No. 1; Tennessee, West Virginia and Virginia are 3-4-5; and Missouri is No. 7.

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