Kentucky’s coronavirus surge continued last week, but at a slower rate; vaccine for young children is being lined up for approval

Kentucky Health News graph, from Kentucky Department for Public Health data

By Melissa Patrick
Kentucky Health News

Kentucky’s surge in coronavirus cases continued last week,  at a slightly slower rate than the week before. Hospitalizations from the virus remain low, and deaths, a lagging indicator, kept declining.

The state’s weekly report, for the last Monday-to-Sunday reporting period, showed 8,127 new cases of the virus, an average of 1,161 cases per day. That’s 26 percent more than the 920 daily cases the week before, when the state reported a 63% jump in cases.

Of last week’s new cases, 14% were in people 18 and younger.

The share of Kentuckians testing positive for the virus in the past seven days has gone up for seven weeks in a row, when it was a low of 1.97%. This rate is now 10.52%, up from 9.35% the week before. The figures do not include results of home tests.

The state attributed 79 more deaths to Covid-19 last week, an average of 11.3 deaths per day. The week before it was around 14 deaths per day. The state pandemic death toll is now 15,909.

Kentucky’s Covid-19 hospital numbers remain low. They reported 264 Covid-19 patients Monday, down 76 from 340 the week earlier, 23 intensive-care unit patients and six patients on mechanical ventilation.

The report shows that nearly 75% of the state’s ICU beds are occupied, with the  Northern Kentucky hospital region using 100% of its ICU beds. Only 1.4% of the patients have Covid-19.

The statewide incidence rate is 23.84 cases per 100,000 people, up from 19.64 cases per 100,000 people last week. Eighteen Kentucky counties have rates above that amount, but Jefferson County is the only one with more than double that rate, at 55.7 cases per 100,000 people. Not one county has a zero case rate.

The New York Times ranks Kentucky’s infection rate 27th among states and Washington, D.C., with a 132% increase in cases in the last 14 days.

“The United States is currently averaging more than 100,000 known cases per day for the first time since February. Cases are rising in nearly every state, and since many cases go uncounted in official reports, the true toll is likely even higher than these figures suggest,” the Times reports.

Pfizer-BioNTech has said that an early analysis shows three doses of their coronavirus vaccine was 80% effective in preventing symptomatic infections in children 5 months to 4 years old.
“Our Covid-19 vaccine has been studied in thousands of children and adolescents, and we are pleased that our formulation for the youngest children, which we carefully selected to be one-tenth of the dose strength for adults, was well tolerated and produced a strong immune response,” Albert Bourla, chairman and CEO of Pfizer, said in a news release.

The Washington Post reports that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has said its outside experts will meet June 14 and 15 to discuss the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech pediatric vaccines.

The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is already approved for those 5 and older, although less than one-fourth of Kentucky children have received it, according to the state report that shows only 23% of Kentucky children between the ages of 5 and 11 having received at least one dose of the vaccine.

White House officials are also warning that the US is at risk of rationing Covid supplies without additional funding.

“The White House is planning for “dire” contingencies that could include rationing supplies of vaccines and treatments this fall if Congress doesn’t approve more money for fighting Covid-19,” Zeke Miller reports for the Associated Press.

Dr. Ashish Jha, the White House coronavirus coordinator, has warned that “without more money, vaccines will be harder to come by, tests will once again be scarce, and the therapeutics that are helping the country weather the current omicron-driven surge in cases without a commensurate increase in deaths could be sold overseas before Americans can access them,” Miller writes.

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