Covid-19 death numbers keep ticking up as most other measures of the pandemic decline; holiday surge appears to be over

Kentucky Health News graph; case numbers are based on initial, unadjusted daily totals

By Al Cross
Kentucky Health News

Sunday’s Kentucky pandemic report was much like Saturday’s, with most metrics showing a decline but death rates setting more records, likely in part the results of cases that were part of surges during recent holiday periods.

The state added 34 more names to the list of people whose deaths have been officially attributed to Covid-19, 24 of them confirmed and eight probable. That raised the seven- and 14-day daily averages to 32.3 and 28.9, new highs.

Kentucky’s death toll from the virus reached 3,127. As usual for a Sunday, the state did not release a detailed list of the additional fatalities.

New cases of the novel coronavirus in Kentucky totaled 2,362 – 372 of them probable and the rest confirmed. That was almost 11,000 fewer than last Sunday, and concluded an official reporting week with about 14 percent fewer cases than the week before. Final weekly numbers are reported on Mondays.

The seven-day rolling average of new cases, the most common measure of the pandemic, is 3,314. It has fallen steadily for five straight days since setting a record of 4,002 on Tuesday, Jan. 12. That was for a seven-day period with the three highest daily totals of the pandemic, as well as the sixth highest.

Another sign that the post-holiday surge has ended is a continued decline in the percentage of Kentuckians who have testing positive for the virus in the last seven days. That stands at 11.49%, one week after hitting a record 12.45%.

Numbers from hospitals remained steady or declined. Kentucky hospitals reported 1,602 Covid-19 patients, 29 fewer than Saturday; 410 of them were in intensive care and 410 were on ventilators.

But for the first time, five of the state’s 10 hospital readiness regions were flagged for having case numbers above 80 percent capacity, four of them involving intensive-care beds: Lake Cumberland, 89%; Northeast, 87.5%; Barren River, 85%; and the easternmost region, from Lee to Pike counties, 82%. Northern Kentucky was at 81% of overall capacity but its ICU beds were only 56% full.

The two counties with the highest infection rates were Morgan and Oldham, both sites of virus outbreaks at state prisons. Respectively, they averaged 596 and 205 cases per 100,000 residents over the past seven days. Other counties with more than 100 per 100,000 (1 per 1,000) were: Clinton, 191.5; Wayne, 132.1; Hancock, 113; Harrison, 108.9; Pulaski, 104.4; and Taylor, 100.9.

Counties with 10 or more new cases were: Jefferson, 350; Fayette, 222; Oldham, 187; Boone, 131; Kenton, 119; Pike, 58; Campbell, 54; Pulaski, 53; Daviess, 49; Graves, 46; Calloway, 38; Bullitt, 37; Madison, 34; Harrison, 33; McCracken, 32; Jessamine, 31; Christian, 27; Hardin, 25; Floyd, Muhlenberg, Scott and Warren, 24; Barren and Franklin, 23; Laurel, 22; Boyle, Henderson and Shelby, 21; Logan, Ohio and Rowan, 19; Clinton, 17; Boyd and Greenup, 16; Anderson, Bell, Grant an d Woodford, 15; Breckinridge, 14; Carter, Hopkins, Marshall and Nelson, 13; Perry and Taylor, 12; Bourbon, Johnson, Letcher, Meade, Rockcastle and Spencer, 11; and Hart and Leslie, 10.

In other coronavirus news Sunday:

  • Veterans seeking a coronavirus vaccine besieged a federal veterans hospital on the University of Kentucky campus that offered walk-in vaccinations without appointments Saturday and Sunday. It created “massive traffic jams from all directions,” some vets gave up, and Saturday’s clinic ended two hours early to save vaccine supplies for Sunday and Monday, reports Sofia Millar of WLEX-TV. Many of the vets had not previously registered to get care at the hospital, so that created a second waiting line. On Saturday, some elderly vets waited in the cold weather, but on Sunday they were able to sit in their vehicles and wait to be called. Officials said they scheduled the clinic because they had been able to schedule only 400 appointments a day; they said 1,600 doses were administered Saturday.
  • The university said it will centralize all its vaccinations at Kroger Field beginning Tuesday. President Eli Capilouto said in an email that UK will vaccinate K-12 school personnel, “members of our campus community” and others in its health-insurance plan, “in alignment with state guidelines.” He added, “As we have received more vaccine doses – earlier and in larger volumes than we anticipated – we have been vaccinating more and more people. That is a good thing. But it also is an incredible logistical challenge. . . . The state has – rightly – told us that we are to use every dose we get, each week, as quickly as possible. This is our commitment.”
  • Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said on NBC‘s “Meet the Press” that Johnson & Johnson appears likely to get approval for its one-shot vaccine in “a matter a weeks, not months.”
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