New Covid-19 cases in Ky. hit a plateau, but in East Ky. it’s a very high plateau, and part of the nation’s biggest hotspot

By Al Cross
Kentucky Health News

New cases of the coronavirus in Kentucky hit a plateau last week after declining for four of the last five weeks, but the number of Kentucky hospital patients with Covid-19 fell 22 percent, according to the weekly report from the state Department of Public Health.

The state’s daily infection rate in the last week was fifth in the nation, according to The New York Times, but the newspaper said the rate had declined 39% in the last two weeks, one of the larger drops in the nation.

The state report for the Monday-to-Sunday reporting week said there were 9,159 new cases, or 1,308 per day, slightly above the 1,296 daily average recorded the week before. But the latest figures were 29% less than the week before that.

Just under 23 percent of the week’s new cases were in Kentuckians 18 and younger, the group that has the lowest rates of vaccination for Covid-19. The Times says that in Kentucky, only 21% of 5- to 11-year-olds and and 45% of 12- to 17-year-olds are fully vaccinated. That is a growing concern, with school in session and the prospect of cool weather that will increase time spent indoors.

The new-case reports from the state and the Times differ due to different reporting methods. The state said its new-case infection rate last week was 20.1 per 100,000 people, while the Times said it was 28 per 100,000. The only states with higher rates were West Virginia (37 per 100,000), South Carolina (31), Alaska and North Carolina (both 29).

The Times says six Kentucky counties are in the top 10 for infection rate: Perry (121 per 100,000), Rowan (117), Wayne (107), Breathitt (94), Rockcastle (87) and Carroll (79). The state’s report says its top 10 counties are Wolfe (174 per 100,000), Harlan (163), Rockcastle (147), Perry (131), Powell (131), Menifee (106), Bath (105), Knox (105), Whitley (97.3) and Morgan (95.5).

What both reports make clear is that Appalachian Kentucky and parts of West Virginia consttitute the biggest national hotspot for coronavirus infections.

The biggest positive change in the state report was the drop in Kentucky hospital patients with Covid-19, to 456 from 584 the week before. Hospitalizations are a key measure in gauging the risk posed by the virus.

The state said the share of Kentuckians testing positive for the virus in the last week was 11.96%, the lowest rate reported since the end of May. Those figures do not include at-home tests.

Perhaps reflecting the higher infection rates of a few weeks ago, the state said it attributed 80 more deaths to Covid-19 last week. That was the highest weekly total in four months, though just two above the 78 reported two weeks ago. The average for the last three months is 61 deaths per day. The state’s pandemic death toll stands at 16,902.

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