Cases still on rough plateau; officials urge caution in nice weather; Clinton Co. schools go remote; overweight, not just obese, at risk

Kentucky Health News chart based on daily reports, which are later adjusted slightly downward
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By Al Cross
Kentucky Health News

State officials announced 439 more cases of the novel coronavirus in Kentucky on Sunday, leaving the seven-day rolling average of new cases about where it was almost two months ago: 668 on July 25. Since then, the figure has been on a very rough plateau, going as high as 715 on Sept. 4 and as low as 528 on Aug. 7 and 11, but the trendline has been slightly upward, worrying officials.

“I hope everyone is enjoying this beautiful weather as we enter fall, but with this pandemic as deadly as ever and flu season beginning please take the essential steps to protect you, your loved ones and your community,” Gov. Andy Beshear said in a press release. “As we saw Saturday, with more than 1,000 cases, covid-19 remains highly infectious, and we must be vigilant to prevent a spike that will claim even more Kentuckians.”

In the release, Health Commissioner Steven Stack encouraged Kentuckians to enjoy the nice weather, but he urged hosts to limit gatherings to 10 or fewer people, insist that invitees stay home if they don’t feel well, require facial coverings, try to spend as much time as possible outside, and seat guests at least six feet apart.

 

“Remember, you’re the host, and you set the rules,” Stack said. “We’re not just preventing the spread of covid-19. We’re also preventing the spread of the common cold, the flu and other viruses, which is very important, since they can easily be confused with covid-19.”

Beshear announced three more deaths from covid-19 on Sunday, bringing the state’s death toll from the disease to 1,111. The fatalities were a 66-year-old man and a 92-year-old woman from Lexington, and a 91-year-old man from Boyd County.

Counties with five or more new cases on the state’s daily report were Jefferson, 81; Fayette, 74; Calloway, 17; Warren, 17; Madison, 14; Greenup, 13; Pulaski, 11; Barren, 10; Daviess, 9; Hardin, 9; Boone, Boyd, Kenton, Knott, Knox and Marshall, 8 each; Henderson and Leslie, 7 each; Bullitt, Campbell and Pike, 6 each; and Clinton and Graves, 5 each.
Case numbers tend to be lower on Sundays because of limited testing and/or reporting by laboratories. Beshear’s release said 68 of the new case were in Kentuckians 18 or younger. As usual for a Sunday, the report did not include hospitalization or institutional data, or the share of Kentuckians testing positive for the virus in the last seven days.
In other covid-19 news:

  • Schools in Clinton County, where the Tennessee border intersects the edge of the Cumberland Plateau, shifted to remote instruction Wednesday after the state said the county had a “critical spread” of the virus. “School is not part of the problem yet, but as those numbers go up and we keep having school, it’s inevitable that it would be a problem,” Supt. Tim Parsons told the Clinton County News. He said in-person schooling, which began Aug. 31, won’t resume until Oct. 12 because a break is scheduled the week before.
  • “Since the pandemic began, dozens of studies have reported that many of the sickest covid-19 patients have been people with obesity,” Meredith Wadman reports for Science magazine. “In recent weeks, that link has come into sharper focus as large new population studies have cemented the association and demonstrated that even people who are merely overweight are at higher risk.”
  • “The country’s extraordinarily high case load — more than 6.5 million so far — and death count have translated into steadily growing acceptance of the preventive steps scientists recommend: hand-washing, social distancing, wearing face coverings,” The Washington Post reports. The story, reported from several rural and urban locales, tells how covid-19 deaths woke communities up to the reality of the pandemic.
  • Asked on CBS‘s “Face the Nation” if President Trump is correct in saying that the nation is “rounding the corner” to quashing the virus, his former Food and Drug Administration commissioner, Scott Gottlieb, said, “We have at least one more cycle with this virus heading into the fall and winter,” in which cases will increase. “There’s a lot of virus left to go in this country.”
  • Gottlieb said he did not think a coronavirus vaccine would be available until “probably the end of the second quarter of 2021 and maybe into the third quarter,” similar to the forecast of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield, which Trump disputed. He said emergency authorization could be given to “very select groups on a very limited basis.”