Latest White House report shows big increases in number of ‘red zone’ counties and Ky. death rate; new-case rate 19th in nation

White House Coronavirus Task Force table; for larger version, click on it. Counties are sorted by cases in last three weeks, from highest to lowest. Places with fewer than 10 cases last week are excluded.
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By Mary Meehan
Kentucky Health News

More than half of Kentucky’s counties are in covid-19 danger zones defined by the White House Coronavirus Task Force, and there were big increases last week in the state’s covid-19 death rate and the number of counties in the task force’s “red zone.”

The task force’s weekly report showed that the high-risk areas span both urban and rural communities.

The state’s death rate rose 29.6% in the Saturday-to-Friday week of Aug. 29 to Sept. 4, which Gov. Andy Beshear called one of the deadliest weeks on record in Kentucky. The report is usually released on Monday but was delayed by the Labor Day weekend.

Of the state’s 120 counties, 64 were in the high-risk zones, up from 59 last week. There were 10 more counties, or 24, in the red zone and five fewer, or 40 counties, in the yellow zone.

Communities in the red zone have positive test rate higher than 10% and more than one new case per thousand residents. Yellow-zone places had new cases between 0.1 and 1 per 1,000 and a positive-test rate of 5% to 10% — or one of those, with the other in the red zone.

While Kentucky’s positive-test rate remained in the yellow zone, the report’s maps showed that many counties were in the red zone for positive tests, with many above 10 percent positive, and 14 above 20 percent.
White House Coronavirus Task Force maps; for a larger image, click on it.
Kentucky had 110 new cases per 100,000 population, ranking 19th in the nation; the national average was 88 cases per 100,000 population.

Nearly all of Kentucky’s hospitals – an average of 93% – reported a newly confirmed or suspected case of covid-19 each day.

The virus continues to hit long-term care facilities, with 5% of Kentucky’s nursing facilities having at least one new resident covid-19 death, according to the report.

The task force encourages more testing on college campuses and, if needed, in the surrounding communities. It also suggests that all universities and colleges have a plan for rapid testing and contract tracing of students showing symptoms, and says residential cases or contacts should not be sent home to quarantine.

The state is collecting data on individual cases at both colleges and school districts serving K-12 students at Kentucky’s covid-19 website.