Covid-19 hospital, intensive-care and ventilator cases keep setting new records; positive-test rate also jumps to new high

State Dept. for Public Health map, adapted by Kentucky Health News; to enlarge, click on it.

By Melissa Patrick
Kentucky Health News

The metrics to measure the coronavirus pandemic continue to worsen, with Covid-19 hospitalizations and use of intensive-care units and ventilators at all-time highs.

“The Delta variant continues to spread like wildfire,” Gov. Andy Beshear said in a Facebook post. Kentucky still has the fourth highest infection rate over the last seven days, according to The New York Times.

Beshear added, “Two weapons can win this war. Number one, everybody’s got to get vaccinated. This is still primarily unvaccinated folks either in the hospital or who spread it to someone who is vaccinated and is now in the hospital.

“The second one is masking; universal masking in our schools is a must, or we will get even worse from here. Everybody needs to be wearing a mask when they are outside of their home and indoors.”

The state reported 4,548 new virus cases on Tuesday, the 10th largest daily total of the pandemic. The seven-day average went down 13, to 4,219, because last Tuesday had 90 more cases than today.

But the share of Kentuckians testing positive for the coronavirus in the past seven days increased 0.21 percentage points Tuesday, to 13.66%. That one-day increase equaled the total increase of the previous four days.

The younger the age group, the greater the increase in cases during August. Among Tuesday’s cases, 1,407, or 31%, were in Kentuckians 18 and under.

Hospitals reported 2,274 Covid-19 patients, up 76 from Monday; 617 are in intensive care, up 2; and 406 are on mechanical ventilation, up 22. This is the first time the number of ventilated patients has gone above 400.

If all ventilated patients are in intensive care, 65.8 percent of Covid-19 ICU patients were ventilated on Tuesday, an indicator of how sick the Delta variant is making people. That is far above the average for the month, 50.6%, which is also about the average since Nov. 1.

Ventilator use forecasts deaths, the  lagging indicator of the pandemic. The state reported 23 more Covid-19 deaths Tuesday, bringing the death toll to 7,764. The daily average for the last week is 25.

The daily new-case rate for the last seven days is 89.42 per 100,000 people. Counties with rates more than double that rate are Owsley, 317.1; Clay, 264.9; Bell, 249.1; Whitley, 243.1; Perry, 214.6; Wolfe, 193.6; Leslie, 190.9; LaRue, 181.6; and Powell, 180.3.

Wolfe County schools will close next week due to a high number of cases, making the district at least the 20th to pause instruction in the academic year that recently began.

Again, the only county not in the state’s red zone, for counties with 25 cases per 100,000, is Woodford County, the county with the highest vaccination rate.

The seven-day average of vaccinations in Kentucky is 13,902 doses per day, according to The Washington Post. That is 30 fewer than Monday. Only 48.5% of Kentuckians are fully vaccinated, 28th among the states.

“This is the worst the pandemic has been,” Beshear said. “Please, at least take the same precautions you did earlier in Covid. Come on, folks. We’ve got to do this. Do the right thing. Love your neighbor as yourself. Protect one another.”

The Kentucky General Assembly will make major decisions on dealing with the pandemic, since the state Supreme Court upheld several new laws it passed to limit the governor’s emergency powers.

Legislators have scheduled committee meetings this week to begin deciding what measures to take, anticipating a special session to enact such laws as early as next week.

Only Beshear can call a special session. He said Monday that he would like to do so before his declared state of emergency for the pandemic expires, which will happen when the court ruling becomes final Sept. 10.

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