By Al Cross
Kentucky Health News
Kentucky identified another record number of coronavirus cases Saturday, the seventh straight day the number of new cases has increased. The state’s seven-day rolling average of new cases, a better measure of the pandemic because it smooths out daily fluctuations, is now 362, more than double the average of 180 three weeks ago.
“Today’s numbers confirm that we will need to continue to take this pandemic seriously,” Dr. Steven Stack, the state health commissioner, said in a press release issued by Gov. Andy Beshear’s office.
Stack’s department reported 453 new cases Saturday. The only day it reported more was May 5, when 309 of the 625 cases were from several days of testing at a Western Kentucky prison. So, in terms of cases identified on a single day, the state has set a new record for four of the last five days. The previous record was 322 on April 19.
“These numbers demand serious attention,” Stack said. “In addition to remaining at least six feet away from anyone from outside of your household, sanitizing your hands and other high-touch surfaces, this includes wearing a face covering any time you are in public or indoors, such as in grocery stores or business offices. Wearing a face covering is one of the most important steps we can take to keep our communities safe and continue on the path to reopening Kentucky.”
Stack added, “Make sure your mask fits properly to protect individuals and others from getting sick. And, keep extra masks handy. If you know you’re going to be outdoors in the heat or doing any kind of activity where you might work up a sweat, bring an extra face mask.”
Beshear issued an emergency order and health regulation requiring mask wearing in public, starting at 5 p.m. Friday. He said in Saturday’s press release, “This is another day where it shows that we are no longer in a plateau but cases are increasing. We must act now.”
Beshear reported two more covid-19 deaths Saturday, a 69-year-old woman and an 86-yer-old man from Jefferson County. They raised the state’s death toll from the disease to 622.
Deaths are a lagging indicator of a pandemic; new cases are a leading indicator. For public officials trying to prevent health-care systems from being overrun with covid-19 patients, the most important indicator is often the number of covid-19 patients in hospitals and intensive care.
Beshear did not report such numbers Friday, saying the state was changing its reporting system to get more timely and accurate data. He said he hoped to have those data Monday, but Saturday’s daily report
included them, and they were down from Thursday: Hospitalizations dropped to 370 from 457, and intensive-care cases fell to 75 from 105. However, the report said, “These numbers may be under-reported” because of the changeover.
The report also included a metric new to it, the percentage of tests for the coronavirus having a positive result over the previous seven days. It was 3.9 percent, well below the 4.5% Beshear reported the day before. The report offered no explanation for that, and spokespersons for Beshear and Stack did not immediately reply to an email seeking an explanation.
The report said the counties with more than five new cases Saturday were Jefferson, 64; Fayette, 36; Christian, 26; Bell, 18; Boone, 18; Graves, 17; Kenton, 15; Hardin, 13; Warren, 13; Ohio, 12; Laurel, 10; Campbell, Henderson and Scott, nine each; Barren, Carroll, Hopkins and Jessamine, eight each; Clark, seven; and Daviess, Madison, Nelson, Rowan and Shelby, six each.