Pandemic continues its slow wane; positive-test rate shows a blip; state starts listing publicly the date of each Covid-19 death

“Covid” is a much more common search term than “coronavirus,” says this graph by Rick Lesaar, a health-communication expert. Covid-19 is the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2.

By Al Cross and Bruce Maples

Kentucky Health News
Most measures of the pandemic declined in Kentucky Friday, as the state continued to report scores of Covid-19 deaths it had missed as cases of the novel coronavirus surged from October through January.

“With now more than 1 million Kentuckians being vaccinated, our shot of hope has proven to be our shot of certainty for ending this pandemic,” Gov. Andy Beshear said in a press release. “We still need everyone to continue to mask up, practice social distancing, wash your hands and get vaccinated when it’s your turn.”

The state reported 731 new cases of the virus, lowering its seven-day rolling average by 33, to 688. That is the lowest average since Sept. 17.
Kentucky Health News graph; for a larger version, click on it.

The percentage of Kentuckians testing positive for the virus over the last seven days rose to 3.4%, but that followed a much sharper drop of 0.5 points the day before. The positive-test rate has declined steadily for more than two months, with two brief plateaus and one upward blip.

Kentucky’s statewide rate of new daily cases over the last seven days took its sharpest drop in a long time: five notches, to 22nd in the nation, according to the daily compilation by The New York Times.
The state reported that its rate fell to 12.15 cases per 100,000 residents. Counties with daily averages more than double the statewide rate were: Lyon, 277; Simpson, 64.6; Knox, 39.4; Powell, 32.4; Clay, 32.3; Trimble, 30.4; Hopkins, 28.1; Owsley, 25.9; Jackson, 25.7; and Carroll, 25.5.
Lyon County is the site of virus outbreaks in state prisons and has had the nation’s highest rate for more than two weeks, according to the Times, but its rate is falling. The Corrections Department‘s daily report says active cases at the Kentucky State Penitentiary dropped to 492 (including 22 employees), from 538 on Thursday; cases at the West Kentucky Correctional Complex, which had an earlier outbreak, fell to 26 (including eight employees) from 73.
The state added 25 more deaths to its official list of Covid-19 fatalities, close to the daily average for the last month. That, and 166 deaths from the continuing audit of death certificates, raised the state’s toll to 5,695.
At the request of Kentucky Health News, the state began adding to its death reports the date of each death, which may be weeks or even months before the death is listed, because local health departments don’t always report promptly and each case is reviewed for Covid-19 involvement. One of today’s normally reported fatalities, an 87-year-old man in Campbell County, died Oct. 20. Two deaths were from December, two from January and 16 from February. The others occurred March 5, 11, 16 and 17.
The audit revealed 604 missed deaths, Beshear said Thursday. The state itemized 417 of them Thursday and 166 Friday. Among the 166 fatalities, 11 died in October, 92 in November, 53 in December and 10 in January. The counties with the most deaths from the audit were Jefferson, 30; and Hardin and McCracken, 12 each. The list and the normally reported list for today are at
In other pandemic news Friday:
  • Counties with more than 10 new cases were: Jefferson, 135; Fayette, 38; Daviess, 25; Hardin, 23; Kenton, 22; Scott, 21; Henderson, Knox and Warren, 18; Oldham, 16; McCracken and Pulaski, 15; Powell, 14; Boone, Bullitt, Laurel and Leslie, 13; Hopkins, 12; and Bell, Christian and Jackson, 11.
  • Kentucky hospitals reported 463 Covid-19 patients, 14 more than Thursday, but the number in intensive-care fell by nine, to 101; the number on ventilators rose by three, to 60.
  • The state Cabinet for Health and Family Services began issuing weekly vaccine updates, in a PDF version and a PowerPoint version. It also issued a 21-page document with frequently asked questions about the coronavirus vaccines.
  • Corinne Boyer of WEKU-FM has questions about the vaccines, and experts at the University of Kentucky have answers.
  • President Biden reversed course and said the U.S. would send millions of vaccine doses to Canada and Mexico, shortly after Mexico said it would close its southern border to all nonessential travel through at least April 21, in response to a surge of illegal migration by Central Americans across the U.S.-Mexico border. Both nations said it was not a quid pro quo.
  • study in The Lancet, the leading British medical journal, found that coronavirus reinfections are rare, but when they do happen, they are more common for people over 65, and seniors have only 47% protection against repeat infection, compared with 80% for younger people. Protection against reinfection remained stable for more than six months.
  • No, it’s not like the flu: Research published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine showed Covid-19 puts a substantially higher burden on the body than influenza. The study showed that Covid-19 cases cause significantly more weekly hospitalizations, more use of ventilators and higher death rates.
  • Texas Roadhouse founder Kent Taylor of Louisville took his own life Thursday “after a battle with post-Covid-related symptoms, including severe tinnitus,” his family said. “Kent battled and fought hard like the former track champion that he was, but the suffering that greatly intensified in recent days became unbearable.”
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