Covid-19 cases increase and flu cases decrease in Ky.; Biden says he will end public health emergencies for pandemic May 11

By Melissa Patrick
Kentucky Health News

New coronavirus cases in Kentucky increased by 23 percent last week, continuing an up-and-down pattern that creates a rough plateau. Meanwhile, influenza cases decreased for the seventh week in a row.

“We have not seen the substantial increases in hospitalization or cases that we saw after the holidays last year,” Gov. Andy Beshear said at his weekly press conference Jan. 26. “We’re kind of bumping up and down a little bit (from) month to month, but nothing like we previously lived through.”

The state Department for Public Health‘s latest weekly report showed 6,369 new cases of the coronavirus from Monday through Sunday, or nearly 910 cases per day. That’s up from 701 a day the week before. Nearly 19% of the cases were in people 18 or younger.

The share of Kentuckians testing positive for the coronavirus in the past seven days was 10.05%, down slightly from 10.27% the week prior. These numbers do not reflect at-home testing.

The weekly new-case rate was 12.98 cases per 100,000 residents, up a bit from 12.54 the week before. The top 10 counties were Barren, 33.9 cases per 100,000; Adair, 29.8; Cumberland, 28.1; Wolfe, 27.9; Boyd, 26.6; Perry, 25.5; Metcalfe, 24.1; Clay, 23.7; Woodford, 23.5; and Breathitt, 22.6.

The New York Times ranks Kentucky’s new-case rate second among the states, with a 2% increase in the last two weeks. Tennessee ranked first for this measure. The Times’s numbers often differ from state numbers because they use different methodologies.

Covid-19 hospital numbers continue to drop. Kentucky hospitals reported 294 patients with the disease, down 24; 56 were in intensive care, up one; and 24 were on mechanical ventilation, down three.

The state attributed 52 more deaths to Covid-19 last week, up from 45 the week before. Data from the last four state reports show Kentucky is experiencing about 48 deaths per week from Covid-19. The state’s pandemic death toll is now 17,890.

The end is near: Meanwhile, President Biden told Congress Monday that he will end the twin national emergencies for addressing Covid-19 on May 11, which will restructure the federal response to treat the virus as an endemic threat to public health that can be managed through agencies’ normal authorities.

Biden’s move came “as lawmakers have already ended elements of the emergencies that kept millions of Americans insured during the pandemic. Combined with the drawdown of most federal Covid-19 relief money, it would also shift the development of vaccines and treatments away from the direct management of the federal government,” reports Zeke Miller of The Associated Press.

The World Health Organization said Monday that Covid-19 remains a “public health emergency of international concern,” but the pandemic is at a “transition point.”

Flu cases keep decreasing

Flu cases in Kentucky continue to decline, but as long as there is any flu activity, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends a flu shot for anyone 6 months and older. Flu season runs through May.

“Remember, the flu shot works really well against this strain,” Beshear said at the news conference.

The state’s latest weekly flu report shows 309 new cases of the flu were confirmed in the week ended Jan. 21, down from 633 the week prior, a drop of 51%.

The number of confirmed cases this season is 41,413, a number that includes the new cases as well as a backlog of cases from UK HealthCare that had not been previously reported. The prior report, with data from the week ended Jan. 14, reported 39,425 confirmed flu cases this season.

Kentucky’s flu activity level remains “regional,” meaning cases have been confirmed in at least two, but fewer than half, of the state’s 16 regions.

The report says flu has killed eight children and 122 adults this flu season, with four of the adult cases due to the flu and Covid-19 coinfection. There was no change from the prior week’s report.

By far the highest number of cases is among children 10 and younger, followed by people 11 to 20.

Counties with the highest number of flu cases were Jefferson, 151; Jessamine, 46; Madison, 35; Scott, 32; and Woodford, 24.
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