Ky. coronavirus cases stay on rough plateau; a few more counties at higher risk; former Gov. Brown died of Covid-19 complications

By Melissa Patrick
Kentucky Health News

The number of new coronavirus cases in Kentucky continues to fluctuate each week, but on a rough plateau. Meanwhile, the latest federal risk map shows most of the state’s counties continue to have a low risk of transmission.

The state Department for Public Health reported 3,866 new cases last week, or 552 per day. That’s a 43% drop over the prior week, when the state reported 6,746 new cases, a number that was nearly double the week before that. Of last week’s new cases, nearly 13% were in people 18 and younger.

The share of Kentuckians testing positive for the virus last week was 7.03%, just slightly higher than the week prior, when the rate was 6.73%. The figures do not include at-home tests.

The weekly new-case incidence rate was 10.61 cases per 100,000 residents, down a bit from 10.87 the week prior. Three counties had an incidence rate more than double the state rate: Robertson, at 54.2 cases per 100,000; Henry, 26.6; and Mercer, 22.8. The other top 10 counties were Johnson, 20.0; Elliott, 19.0; Edmonson, 17.6; Morgan, 17.2; Marshall, 16.5; Jefferson, 16.4; and Gallatin, 16.1.

The New York Times ranks Kentucky’s incidence rate fourth among states, with a 17% increase in cases in the last two weeks.

The number of patients in Kentucky hospitals with Covid-19 increased after dropping for two weeks in a row. Hospitals reported 281 Covid-19 patients Monday morning, an increase of 31 over the prior Monday; 40 were in intensive care, five more than the week prior; and nine were on mechanical ventilation, down five.

One of those who went off mechanical ventilation and died last week, at the age of 88, was former Gov. John Y. Brown Jr. “According to Brown’s children, he died due to a series of health problems that stemmed from Covid-19 complications which began this summer,” the Lexington Herald-Leader reported. Lincoln and Pamela Brown said he was in intensive care at the University of Kentucky‘s Albert B. Chandler Hospital in Lexington for three weeks.

The state attributed 43 more deaths to Covid-19 last week, down from 49 the week prior. Kentucky’s pandemic death toll is 17,502.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention risk map ,which was released Monday instead of last Thursday due to the Thanksgiving holiday, shows an increase in counties at medium and high risk in Kentucky.

The map, which looks at both cases and hospital data to determine transmission risk, shows 15 Kentucky counties  at medium risk of Covid-19, shown in yellow, and three at high risk, shown in orange. Low risk counties are shown in green. Last week, only 10 counties were shown to have a medium risk of transmission.

The high risk counties are Magoffin, Johnson and Floyd. In such counties, the CDC continues to recommend 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 those who are at high risk of getting very sick to wear 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.

The CDC also has a transmission-level map that shows the level of virus spread in each county, at one of four levels. The map shows 33 counties at moderate levels of transmission and the rest have either substantial or high levels of transmission. This data is largely used by researchers and health-care facilities.

State health officials have encouraged Kentuckians to use the other CDC map to guide their preventive measures.

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