CDC says most of Ky. has medium risk of Covid-19 transmission; flu rates remain high; Beshear urges vaccinations and boosters

By Melissa Patrick
Kentucky Health News

While the number of Kentucky counties with a high risk of Covid-19 transmission went down by two on the latest federal risk map, the medium-risk category has 42 more counties than last week.

“Covid-19 news is a little mixed and a little uncertain,” Gov. Andy Beshear said at his regular Thursday news conference, held before the latest risk map was released. “It does appear that activity is increasing nationwide, but fortunately we are not seeing significant increases in cases or hospitalizations in Kentucky.”

Beshear revealed that the big jump in Kentucky Covid-19 cases reported two weeks ago was due to the inclusion of some Indiana cases. Even so, he said that while the decline in cases is not as high as it appears to be, there has still been a decline.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention risk map, which looks at both cases and hospital numbers to determine transmission risk, shows 13 Kentucky counties at high risk, shown in orange; 64 at medium risk, shown in yellow; and 43 at low risk, down from 61 the week before. Low-risk counties are shown in green.

Most of the high-risk counties can be found in the eastern part of the state and a large cluster of low-risk counties runs down the middle of the state.

In high-risk counties, the CDC continues to recommend that you wear a well-fitting, high-quality 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.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention map

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

State officials have encouraged Kentuckians to use the other CDC map to guide their preventive measures.
Reviewing all the respiratory diseases hitting Kentucky, Beshear said officials are watching the new coronavirus variant that is quickly becoming dominant in the U.S. It is called XBB.1.5 and is a subvariant of the Omicron variant.Beshear said XBB is more contagious than the last Omicron subvariant, but we don’t yet know whether it will cause more or less serious disease. The previous dominant variant has been milder than previous ones.

“So, it’s important that folks who have not gotten their newest booster to go get it,” Beshear said. “This new booster provides protection against Omicron and has provided good protection against all of the Omicron variants. Does it mean that it will shield you from getting Covid? Not always. But it certainly makes, if you get it, any health impacts much, much, much less severe.”

Beshear noted that the CDC reports that fewer than 12% of Kentuckians who are 5 or older and thus eligible for the latest, updated booster.

He added that flu levels in Kentucky remain high and that the flu can be deadly. He stressed that it’s not too late to get a flu shot and that locations and appointments to get one can be found on

“At least eight children have passed away from the flu already this season” in Kentucky, he said. “Flu vaccination is the best way to prevent serious disease. The main strain of flu that’s going around right now, the flu vaccine is very effective against it. . . . Go get that flu shot.”

Beshear said the respiratory synctital virus, a disease that is most dangerous to children and seniors, “appears to be declining.”

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