CDC: Only 5 Ky. counties have high risk from coronavirus; FDA panel recommends one annual Covid-19 vaccination for everyone

By Melissa Patrick
Kentucky Health News

Only five Kentucky counties, all but one along the Virginia border, have a high level of Covid-19 risk, according to the latest weekly map from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The map showed only slight shifts among medium-risk and low-risk counties.

Gov. Andy Beshear noted at his weekly news conference, held before the CDC report was released, that new corinavirus cases in Kentucky continue to move up and down a bit, continuing the recent plateau, but the recent increase in Covid-19 hospitalizations is subsiding.

Again, he made a plea for Kentuckians to get the new Covid-19 booster shot and encouraged Kentuckians to make “wise decisions” when it comes to other preventive measures, like masking.

“You know, masking when you choose to is a safe and effective tool,” he said. “So please consider it when you believe that you need it.”

The CDC map, which is based on Covid-19 cases and hospital numbers to determine transmission and risk, shows number of high risk counties, shown in orange, dropped 54.5 percent from the prior week when the state had 11 counties in this category.

All the high-risk counties continue to be in the eastern part of the state: Wolfe, Pike, Letcher, Harlan and Bell counties.

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.

The map shows 49 Kentucky counties at medium risk, shown in yellow; and 66 at low risk, gown in green.

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, largely used by researchers and health-care facilities, that shows the level of virus spread in each county, at one of four levels. For the first time in a while, it shows one county with a low level of transmission: Todd. Twenty-six counties had with a moderate level of transmission, up from 15 in the prior week, and the rest had either substantial or high levels of transmission.

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

On Thursday, Jan. 26, a U.S. Food and Drug Administration advisory panel voted unanimously Jan. 26 in favor of moving to an annual Covid-19 vaccine made up of one formula, with every person getting the same vaccine whether they are already vaccinated or not.

Dr. Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at the Baylor College of Medicine in Texas, “said he prefers a twice-a-year routine to account for the anticipated summer and winter surges each year,” The Houston Chronicle reports.

“What they’re really doing is balancing the science that says, ideally, semi-annually, with the reality that Americans are not really accepting the boosters barely anyway,” Hotez said. But Pfizer and Moderna “are considering raising the price of a single vaccine dose to $130, and the Biden administration has said it no longer has the Covid-19 funding to make additional purchases,” the Chronicle notes.

Meanwhile, a committee of the World Health Organization began meeting Jan. 27, to discuss recommending that the agency declare Covid-19 is no longer a major global health emergency. The WHO said no recommendations would be issued before Monday.
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