By Al Cross
Kentucky Health News
Most measures of the pandemic in Kentucky inched down Wednesday, except the most serious: deaths and Covid-19 patients on mechanical ventilation.
The state reported 52 Covid-19 deaths, raising the total to 8,422 and the average over the last seven days to 40 per day. The dead included a 34-year-old from McCreary County, a 36-year-old from LaRue County, a 38-year-old from Johnson County and a 39-year-old from Kenton County.
“This is hitting people far younger than we ever saw previously in the pandemic,” Gov. Andy Beshear said in a Facebook video in which he read the ages and counties of several victims younger than 60.
Hospitals reported 2,257 Covid-19 patients, 30 fewer than Tuesday, and 651 on intensive care, down 13, but the number on ventilation rose by eight, to 453. The record of 463 was set six days earlier.
Though “Kentucky hospitals have added nearly 200 more staffed intensive care unit beds in the last month,” fewer were available Tuesday than in late August, the president of the Kentucky Hospital Association told a legislative committee, reports Alex Acquisto of the Lexington Herald-Leader. National Guard members are at 25 hospitals to free up clinical staff.
The state reported 4,418 new coronavirus cases, cutting the seven-day rolling average by 140, to 3,772, the lowest in almost a month. And the percentage of Kentuckians testing positive for the virus fell to 11.66%. The figure has fallen daily for two weeks, but “That’s still far too high,” Beshear said. he has said that the decline could be partly due to more testing, prompted by more cases.
Kentucky still has the nation’s third-highest infection rate over the last seven days, according to The New York Times, trailing Alaska and West Virginia.
The state reported a seven-day infection rate of 73.89 daily cases per 100,000 residents. Counties with rates more than double that rate were Rockcastle, 190.8; Harlan, 189.5; Whitley, 189.5; Leslie, 173.6; Magoffin, 163.3; Powell, 163; Metcalfe, 156; Barren, 155; Monroe, 151.6; Knox, 151.4; and Wolfe, 149.7.
“Please get vaccinated,” Beshear said. “It gives you the best protection out of anything out there.”
The Food and Drug Administration authorized booster shots of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for people 65 and older, adults at risk of severe illness form Covid-19 and people “whose frequent institutional or occupational exposure” puts them at high risk of serious complications from the disease.
“The FDA “took an approach similar to what was recommended Friday by the agency’s outside panel of vaccine experts, but the agency interpreted the advisory panel’s guidance broadly to cover a larger swath of people,” The Washington Post reports. “The FDA action is not the final step before the booster is made available. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and its advisers still must recommend in detail who should receive the shots.”