Clark County judge-executive dies of Covid-19; Kentucky’s rural Covid-19 death rate is 6th in nation; infection rate is 13th

Chris Pace

Chris Pace

By Melissa Patrick
Kentucky Health News

Overall, the metrics used to measure the pandemic in Kentucky were favorable on Friday: Coronavirus cases showed a slight drop, the percentage of people testing positive for the virus stayed about the same, and all three hospital numbers went down.

Kentucky reported 2,008 new cases Friday, lowering the seven-day average by 20, to 1,943 per day. Of Friday’s new cases, 27% are in people 18 and younger.

The percentage of Kentuckians testing positive for the coronavirus in the past seven days is 8%, a slight increase from Thursday when it was 7.91%.

The state reported 31 additional Covid-19 deaths. The death toll is now 9,293, and the state is averaging about 35 per day. Today’s deaths included two Kentuckians as young as 44 years old, according to a Facebook post by Gov. Andy Beshear.

A death not included in the reports yet is that of Clark County Judge-Executive Chris Pace, who died Thursday from Covid-19 complications after battling the virus for a few days before being taken to the emergency room Thursday night, Christopher Leach reports for the Lexington Herald-Leader.

Rural Kentucky’s high infection and low vaccination rates have led to a high Covid-19 death rate, according to data compiled by The Daily Yonder, a rural news site. It ranks Kentucky’s death rate in non-metropolitan counties sixth in the nation, behind Georgia, Idaho, Wyoming, West Virginia and South Carolina. Indiana and Tennessee are 16th and 17th; Ohio is 23rd and Illinois is 29th.

Kentucky’s rural infection rate is 13th among the states; West Virginia and Ohio are seventh and eighth, respectively. A death rate higher than the infection rate indicates a population with underlying health problems; that’s Kentucky.

Kentucky hospitals reported 1,273 Covid-19 patients, down 81 from Thursday; 373 in intensive care, down 26; and 239 on mechanical ventilation, down 31.

Nine of the state’s 10 hospital regions are using at least 80% of their intensive-care unit beds, with the Northern region at 100% capacity. Two regions are above 96%, including the easternmost region (96%) and Lake Cumberland (97%).

Kentucky’s seven-day infection rate ranks 10th among the states, a drop of one slot from Thursday, according to an analysis of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data by The New York Times.

The state reports its seven-day infection rate to be 36.85 daily cases per 100,000 residents. Counties with rates more than double that rate are Owsley, 84.1; Powell, 80.9; and Russell, 76.5.

So far, almost 2.77 million Kentuckians have received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine, amounting to 62% of the total population and 75% of those 18 and older.

U.S. Food and Drug Administration advisory panel voted unanimously in favor of authorizing Johnson & Johnson booster doses for adults, at least two months after receiving the first shot, CNBC reports.

The same committee on Thursday recommended Moderna booster shots for people 65 and older and other high-risk adults.

The FDA usually follows the advice of the committee, and a final decision by its regulators could come within days.

Another approach to slowing the spread of the virus is to ramp up testing. Toward that end, Louisville is giving away free at-home test kits to thousands of people in areas where the virus spread is the highest and where the population might be the most vulnerable, WDRB reports.

“Many people are returning to their pre-Covid lifestyles, or similar to that,” Connie Mendel of Louisville Metro Public Health and Wellness told WDRB. “So we need to determine — when we wake up and we don’t feel well, or our kids have a cough or a sneeze or a headache or a fever, being able to determine quickly if that’s Covid.”

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