Positive-test rate falls to 3.07%, the lowest since June, but other measures of the pandemic in Kentucky remain on a rough plateau

By Al Cross

Kentucky Health News
The percentage of Kentuckians testing positive for the novel coronavirus in the last seven days fell to near 3 percent Saturday, while other measures of the pandemic remained on a rough plateau.
The positive-test rate in the last seven days is 3.07%, the lowest since late June. The rate has bounced around in the last few days but is almost a full percentage point lower than it was a week ago, and less than half of what it was a month ago, 6.77%. Its high was 12.45% on Jan. 10.
The state reported 644 new cases of the virus, 35 fewer than last Saturday, but the seven-day rolling average of new cases declined by only five, to 683.
Hospital numbers also remained on a rough plateau. Kentucky hospitals reported 457 Covid-19 patients, six fewer than Friday; 111 of them were in intensive care, up by 10; and 65 of those were on ventilators, up five. The share of ICU patients being ventilated the last two days is 59%, higher than normal. But only one hospital region, Lake Cumberland, reported over 80% of ICU beds in use (82%), and only 11% of its ICU beds were used by Covid-19 patients.
State Department for Public Health table shows age
distribution of coronavirus cases and Covid-19 deaths.

The lagging indicator of the pandemic, deaths added to the state’s official list of Covid-19 fatalities, was 25, which is the average for this month. Five deaths were listed as probable and 20 were confirmed.

As usual for a weekend, the state did not itemize deaths by age, sex, county and date, so it didn’t release a list of the 21 yet-to-be-itemized deaths from the audit that found 604 missing deaths from October to January.
The state’s death toll is 5,720, all but 537 of them confirmed. The state’s daily report showed that residents of long-term-care facilities are 41.5% of Covid-19 fatalities; a few months ago they were 60%. State officials say the decline shows the effectiveness of vaccinations, which gave nursing homes priority.
The state’s rate of daily new cases over the last seven days again ranked 22nd in the nation, according to The New York Times. Lyon County, site of virus outbreaks in state prisons, continued to have the nation’s highest rate. The state reported that seven-day rate to be 141 cases per 100,000 residents.
The state Department for Public Health said the statewide new-case rate fell slightly, to 11.98 per 100,000. Counties with rates more than double the statewide rate were Simpson, 69.2; Knox, 39; Trimble, 35.4; Clay, 30.1; Hopkins, 28.1; Jackson, 25.7; Powell, 25.4; and Bell, 24.1.
Counties with 10 or more new cases were: Jefferson, 107; Kenton, 39; Fayette, 34; Hardin, 24; Daviess, 22; Lyon, 19; Warren, 18; Clark, 17; Boone, Hopkins, Pulaski and Whitley, 14; Christian, 12; Bullitt and Jessamine, 11; and Scott and Simpson, 10.
In other pandemic news Saturday:
  • Fayette County schools, which recently resumed in-person classes for almost all students, found 12 coronavirus cases and more than 200 quarantines this week, and “received reports of large parties and sleepovers where children didn’t wear masks,” through the contact-tracing process, Valarie Honeycutt Spears reports for the Lexington Herald-Leader.
  • The new-case rate is rising in much of the nation and the world. “Like a storybook villain, the  Covid-19 pandemic has a habit of fighting back from the brink of defeat,” The Economist reports. “A third wave of infections is sweeping through Europe, forcing many governments to impose another round of lockdowns. . . . There are at least two possible explanations for this latest wave. First, as vaccines were rolled out and case numbers fell in many places, people may have let down their guard. . . . The second cause may be the spread of new, more contagious, variants.”
  • NerdWallet reports the pandemic has boosted cashless payments (“Cash is dirty”), saving, shopping small and supporting local: “Few things amplify the importance of an emergency fund more than an extended, large-scale emergency. … In December 2019, the personal savings rate was 7.2%. In December 2020, it was 13.7%. In the 12 months between, savings rates skyrocketed up to 33.7%, which was an all-time high. . . . In a May 2020 survey commissioned by NerdWallet and conducted by The Harris Poll, 37% of Americans said they made more of an effort to support local businesses as a result of the pandemic.”
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