By Al Cross
Kentucky Health News
Kentucky firmly joined the ranks of states with rising number of coronavirus cases Friday, as the seven-day average of daily new cases jumped more than 15 percent.
Also, the share of Kentuckians testing positive for the virus exceeded 3 percent for the first time in almost three months, suggesting that state officials are right when they say the much more contagious Delta variant of the virus is becoming predominant in the state, just as it is in the nation as a whole.
The state reported 379 new cases of the virus Friday, raising the seven-day rolling average to 226 per day. That is 15.3% higher than the previous day’s average, 196, and the highest average since June 15.
|Ky. Health News graph from state data; click it to enlarge
Another way of measuring new cases, the infection rate, also rose to the highest since June 15. Over the last seven days, the state has reported 4.75 cases per 100,000 residents.
Counties with rates at least double the statewide rate on Friday were Livingston, 26.4; Martin, 16.6; Muhlenberg, 15.9; Woodford, 15.5; Carter, 14.9; Hopkins, 14.4; Robertson, 13.6; Grayson, 11.9; Larue, 10.9; Grant, 10.3; Henderson, 9.8; Hickman, 9.8; Marshall, 9.6; Laurel, 9.6; Graves, 9.6; Hardin, 9.5; and Boyd, 9.5.
|Ky. Health News graph from state data; click to enlarge
The positive-test rate, also calculated over the last seven days, was 3.1%. It has increased for the last two weeks, from a low of 1.79% on June 25.
Hospitalizations for the Covid-19 disease have also increased. Kentucky hospitals reported 228 Covid-19 patients Friday, 68 of them in intensive care and 36 of those on mechanical ventilation. In the last seven days, hospitalizations have averaged 206 per day; in the previous seven days, it was 186. Four weeks ago, it was 235.
Deaths, the lagging indicator of the pandemic, remain low. The state reported two more Covid-19 deaths Friday, raising Kentucky’s toll to 7,255. Deaths are averaging around four per day over the last one or two weeks.
Nationally, the average of daily new cases has risen 39% over the last two weeks, according to The New York Times: “Case numbers remain near their lowest levels since testing became widely available, but they have started to trend slowly upward. The uptick in cases is primarily due to localized outbreaks in places with low vaccination rates.”
Woodford County outbreak
But even places with high vaccination rates are vulnerable to outbreaks. Woodford County, which leads Kentucky with 65.3% of its population vaccinated, has an outbreak stemming from the King’s Way Church, near the Fayette County line; Fayette and Anderson counties are also involved. About 40 cases are in Woodford; about 80% are in unvaccinated people. One has been hospitalized.
“When you let your guard down, we can have outbreaks like this,” county Health Director Cassie Prather told WKYT-TV
. “No it’s not required, you don’t have to wear a mask but if I’m a leader in a congregate setting, I want to be setting a good example.”
County Judge-Executive James Kay told the station, “Today is the call to action. Today is why this is not over. If this can happen in the summer like this, in a county like ours where people take it seriously and get vaccinated, the fall is going to be tough.”
Pastor Jeff Johnson told WKYT, “What’s so disheartening for all of us involved is that we’ve done everything that everyone encouraged us to do and some,” following Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines and reopening slowly. The church has gone virtual until at least July 18.
“I’ve got to lead them all, respect their own personal choices, but the responsibility I have is to lead by example, so I got it early on and I’ve been an advocate for everybody getting vaccinated,” Johnson said. “We’ll continue to beat that drum and we’ll encourage people just to be vigilant.”
Prather said test samples are being genomically sequenced to see what variant caused the cases, and she expects many of the results to come back positive for the variant,” WKYT reports.