Wed. 3rd highest day for new virus cases; intensive-care units are filling up; state has five of the seven hottest counties in the nation

State Dept. for Public Health table, relabeled by Ky. Health News; to enlarge, click on it. The table is redder than ever because its data were changed to daily staffed beds, which will fluctuate day-to-day.

By Melissa Patrick
Kentucky Health News

Kentucky saw its third highest number of new coronavirus cases Wednesday, as all but one of the state’s hospital regions reported using more than 85% of intensive-care beds, largely for Covid-19 patients.

The state reported 4,941 new cases, with 1,560, or 31.5%, in those 18 and under. The only other days with a higher number of cases were Aug. 26, at 5,401, and Jan. 6, at 5,742. The seven-day average is 4,232 per day, up 13 from Tuesday.

After rising for eight days, the percentage of Kentuckians testing positive for the virus dropped to 13.35%, 0.31 points below Tuesday.

Another bit of good news is that the seven-day infection rate went down, to 89.02 daily cases per 100,000 people. This is the first decline since July 6, which was soon after the low point of the pandemic, when it was 3.16.

Counties with rates more than double Wednesday’s infection rate are Owsley, 271.8; Perry, 245.1; Bell, 227.2; Leslie, 225.6; Clay, 215.4; Whitley, 213.1; Wolfe, 209.6; Powell, 190.7; and Breathitt, 181.

Kentucky’s infection rate is fifth in the nation, according to The New York Times. The leaders are South Carolina, Alabama, Tennessee and Florida. Mississippi is close behind Kentucky. In the last two weeks, Kentucky’s daily average number of cases has risen 55%, ranking it 14th among the states. It ranks 28th in the share of residents fully vaccinated, at 49%.

In the Times’ ranking of counties with the highest daily average case numbers over the last seven days, five of the top seven are in Kentucky. No. 2 is Clinton County (27 cases, a 416% increase in the last two weeks), followed by Clay (53, 21%), Bell (66, 115%), Perry (63, 119%) and No. 7 Whitley (86, 114%).

The state reported 12 more Covid-19 deaths, bringing the pandemic death toll to 7,776.

Hospitals: The only hospital readiness region using fewer than 80% of beds in its intensive-care units is the northeast region, which includes Ashland, Maysville, Morehead and Mount Sterling. It’s at 57%.

The Lake Cumberland region is using all its ICU beds, and four others are at 95% or higher, including the far-west region (Livingston, Lyon and Trigg counties and west); the western region, with Owensboro and Hopkinsville; the southeast region, from Rockcastle to Harlan counties; and Northern Kentucky.

Among the regions, Covid-19 patients share of ICU beds ranges from 30% in the northeast to 62% in the western region.

Hospitals reported 2,267 Covid-19 patients, down seven from Wednesday. Intensive-care and ventilator use hit another high, with 644 Covid-19 patients in ICUs, up 27; and 410 on mechanical ventilators, up four.

Thirty members of the Kentucky National Guard began a month-long deployment Wednesday at Pikeville Medical Center, to help the hospital deal with an influx of Covid-19 patients, Liz Moomey reports for the Lexington Herald-Leader. They have also been deployed to hospitals in Bowling Green and Morehead.

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