CDC says 108 counties have elevated Covid-19 risk; Ky.’s new-case rate ranks 2nd; Beshear urges use of new booster vaccine

CDC map, adapted by Kentucky Health News

By Melissa Patrick

Kentucky Health News

The pandemic in Kentucky remains on a rough plateau, but it’s a high plateau.

Seventy of Kentucky’s 120 counties have a high level of Covid-19 risk and 38 have a medium level, with very little change in the last two weeks, according to the latest Centers for Disease Control and Prevention‘s risk map.

Only 12 counties show a low level of risk, and The New York Times ranks Kentucky’s seven-day new-case rate second among the states, so most Kentuckians still need to take some level of precaution to avoid the virus.

Last week, the CDC map, which is based on new coronavirus cases, hospital admissions and hospital capacity, showed 70 counties in orange, at high risk; 42 in yellow, at medium risk; and eight in green, at low risk.

In high-risk counties, the CDC recommends that you wear a well-fitting mask in public indoor spaces, and if you are at high risk of getting very sick, consider avoiding non-essential indoor activities in public where you could be exposed.

If you live in a medium or high-risk county, the CDC advises wearing a well-fitting mask when indoors and in public and to consider getting tested before having social contact with someone at high risk for getting very sick and consider wearing a mask when indoors when you are with them.

Some of the counties in which the risk of coronavirus grew in the past week were in Western Kentucky: Hickman, Ballard, McCracken, Graves, Livingston, Crittenden, Marshall and Lyon. Counties showing improvements included a cluster around Louisville that moved from orange to yellow, and a cluster around Christian County that moved from orange to green.

Jefferson County’s move to the yellow zone means masks will no longer be required in its public schools, starting Monday. District policy requires universal masking if the county is at high risk. (Olivia Krauth of the Courier Journal notes that the district has not made an official announcement of the change.)
The best way to protect yourself from the coronavirus is to get fully vaccinated and boosted.
The new, updated Covid-19 booster shot that targets the original strain of the coronavirus and major Omicron subvariants has already been distributed to some parts of the state and will soon be available statewide. The new booster is recommended for all persons 12 years and older who had their last dose two months ago.
“It doesn’t matter if you’ve had three or four shots, you need to get this one if it’s been at least two months since you got your last one,” Gov. Andy Beshear said at his weekly news conference.
He added that he and his family will get the new booster: “It is safe and it is going to protect us from, or better protect us from, the variant that is out there.”
Asked if funding or programs are scheduled to promote the booster, the Democratic governor said there would not be because “most if not all of the funding that would support that has either been cut or not provided in the current budget” by the Republican-controlled legislature.
He said others must pick up the slack.

“Now is an important time for everybody that’s out there with any type of megaphone, whether that’s business leadership or running for office, to say very clearly that these new Omicron booster shots are safe, are effective, and people should get them. It’s part of our civic duty to protect one another,” Beshear said. “And the fastest way to get out of this pandemic — because we all want it to end — is for people to get out there and get boosted.”

State data shows that only 67% of Kentuckians have received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine;  58% have been fully vaccinated and 46.6% of those who are fully vaccinated have been boosted.
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