CDC says 12 Kentucky counties have medium levels of coronavirus as cases and positivity-rates creep up across state

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention map

By Melissa Patrick
Kentucky Health News

Twelve Kentucky counties, most of them in Eastern Kentucky, are in yellow, indicating a medium level of coronavirus transmission on the latest national Covid-19 risk map from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

Union and Henderson counties in Western Kentucky are yellow for the third week in a row. Also yellow are Jefferson County, the state’s most populous, and nine Eastern Kentucky counties: Greenup, Carter, Boyd, Lawrence, Johnson, Magoffin, Floyd, Martin and Pike. They are part of a cluster that includes part of West Virginia and one county in southeastern Ohio.

Twelve is the highest number of Kentucky counties with a medium level of virus on the CDC risk map since the March 31 report, when the state had six yellow counties, and it comes as the state’s positive-test rate and new cases are ticking up.

The state’s weekly report showed a 16.5 percent increase in new cases from the prior week, to an average of 565 new cases per day. It showed a seven-day positive-test rate, not including results of home tests, of 7.19%. That was up from 5.67% the week before.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has warned to avoid using the Skippack Medical Lab SARS-CoV-2 Antigen Rapid Test (Colloidal Gold) at-home Covid-19 test because it could give a wrong result, the Lexington Herald-Leader reports. SML Distribution LLC has recalled more than 209,000 of the tests. The company has not given “adequate data to show the test works correctly,” according to the federal Food and Drug Administration.

Gov. Andy Beshear noted that Kentucky’s positive-test rate, while increasing, “is not the same indicator that it used to be” because it no longer means that our hospitals could get overrun, as was true earlier in the pandemic.

Beshear explained that even as Covid-19 cases are slowly increasing, low hospitalization rates show that the coronavirus is not causing severe illness.

“So am I a little concerned right now? Sure. I’m wary, I’m watching,” Beshear said at his weekly news conference Thursday. “But I don’t think there is cause for alarm yet. We are right to notice it, to watch it and to be ready for whatever is to come.”

Beshear again encouraged Kentuckians to get vaccinated or boosted, noting that in addition to lost productivity, the disease is still a major risk for some people. Kentucky lost an average of about 24 people per day to the virus last week.

“There’s no question that each shot that you get helps you, helps prevent serious illness and only about 25% of our population is boosted at the moment,” Beshear said. “That is one easy thing you can do right now to protect yourself as we’re starting to see some of those numbers tick up.”

The CDC says people in yellow counties who are immunocompromised, or at high risk for severe illness from the virus, should talk to a health-care provider about whether they need to wear a mask or take other precautions.

The weekly ratings are based on new virus cases, Covid-19 hospitalizations and the percentage of staffed inpatient beds occupied by Covid-19 patients.

Nationwide, the number of counties with medium and high levels of the virus have gone up in this weeks report . The CDC says 81.6% of counties or county equivalents have a low level of the virus, down from 87.7% last week; 14.15% have a medium level, up from 9.9% ; and 4.25% have a high level of the virus, up from 2.4%.

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