Most of Kentucky’s coronavirus measures continue to fall, but Covid-19 death reports continue to average about 40 per day

Kentucky Department for Public Health graph, adapted by Ky. Health News; click it to enlarge.

By Melissa Patrick
Kentucky Health News

Nearly 40 Kentuckians per day were recorded as dying from Covid-19 last week, even as new coronavirus cases and positive-test rates kept falling.

Kentucky reported 8,639 new cases of the virus in the reporting week that ended Sunday, March 20. That was 9% less than the prior week, when the state reported 9,532 new cases. The daily average last week was 1,234 per day; the prior week’s daily average was 1,362.

One-fourth of last week’s new cases, or 2,194 of them, were in Kentuckians 18 and younger.

The share of Kentuckians testing positive for the virus in the reporting week was 3.08%, down from 4.17% the prior week. The last time it was even close to this new rate was in early July, when the highly contagious Omicron variant of the virus was just taking hold.

This is the eighth straight week both of these numbers have fallen.

The Kentucky Department for Public Health reports the statewide incidence rate over the last seven days is 10.65 daily cases per 100,000 residents. Counties with rates more than double that rate are Anderson, 44; Knott, 30.9; Green, 30; Jefferson, 29.3; Perry, 28.3; Wayne, 23.2; and Trimble, 21.9.

The New York Times and The Washington Post report much higher incidence rates for the state, respectively 32 and 28 daily cases per 100,000. The more detailed Times report shows 7,747 new cases reported March 14, with very high rates in the 10-county Lake Cumberland District Health Department area. State health cabinet spokeswoman Susan Dunlap said, “KDPH thinks there might be a problem in how they are transitioning from daily to weekly data feeds from the state and counties, so they are getting some strange numbers.”

The Times noted that it has “identified reporting anomalies or methodology changes in the data.” It also notes that the state is transitioning to a weekly reporting schedule and that some counties report new data more frequently than others. It also notes that data is sometimes dumped without historical revisions, which can cause an irregular pattern in the daily reported figures and that it tries to exclude these anomalies from the seven-day averages when possible.

Both newspapers rank Kentucky’s case rate second among the states, behind Idaho. Last week, Kentucky ranked 20th for this measure.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention map that uses new cases, Covid-19 hospitalizations and intensive-care cases to determine the risk that the virus poses in each county puts only 24 of the state’s 120 counties in red, meaning that the CDC still advises wearing a mask in indoor public spaces.

Most red counties are in Eastern Kentucky. In the 37 yellow counties, the CDC advises those who are immunocompromised or at high risk for severe illness should talk to their medical provider about precautions.

Covid-19 hospital numbers also continue to drop. Kentucky hospitals reported 351 Covid-19 patients Monday, with 68 of them in intensive care and 40 on mechanical ventilation. The Times ranks Kentucky seventh among the states and Washington, D.C., for Covid-19 hospitalizations.

Only three of the state’s 10 hospital regions are using at least 80% of their intensive-care beds, with the Barren River region the highest at 92%.

In the last week, an average of 2,115 doses of Covid-19 vaccine were administered per day in Kentucky, a 42% decrease from the week before, the Post reports. 

Kentucky attributed 279 more Covid-19 deaths in the week ended March 20, bringing the pandemic death toll in Kentucky to 14,659. The Covid-19 death average for the week in Kentucky was 39.86 deaths per day. This number has remained largely flat for the last three weeks.

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