Ky. Dept. for Public Health graph, adapted by Ky. Health News; to enlarge, click on it.
By Melissa Patrick
Kentucky Health News
Kentucky’s coronavirus cases in the week ending Nov. 14 saw their first weekly uptick in seven weeks: to 9,506 cases, a 20% increase from the week before, when the state reported 7,919 cases.
But when asked of that should be a warning of further increases to come, Gov. Andy Beshear was not ready to say so, calling the numbers a plateau and reason for Kentuckians to get vaccinated, in light of the cases and deaths during the peak of the Delta-variant surge last December and January.
“Maybe not a warning, but a pretty clear statement that this is not done with us yet,” Beshear said. “I don’t think that it means that we are set for another increase. . . . In the very least, the fact that we are no longer in a decrease and what happened last holiday season should have people running out to get vaccinated before the holidays this season. You can protect yourself. You can protect your family.”
The governor said the number of cases in Kentucky is “at a very serious level” and it’s important to do the things experts know reduce community spread, such as universal masking in schools, masking when in other indoor places; social distancing, and getting a Covid-19 vaccine.
Beshear encouraged everyone who is eligible to get an initial or second-dose vaccination or a booster shot before Thanksgiving; to get tested for the virus before attending a holiday event; and to wear masks at large indoor gatherings, especially if you have not been vaccinated or are not fully vaccinated.
“When we look at the Delta variant, and we look at where hospitals were and overrun and how many people have died, we’ve been through hell,” he said. “And thank God, we’ve come out of it. We’ve come out, most of us have come out on the other side. But we now know we’re approaching the time that the Delta variant hit us so hard. And folks, we’re we’re entering a time where we’d really like to get together and be close inside, and that’s Thanksgiving and Christmas.”
Beshear strongly urged Kentuckians to get 5- to 11-year-old children vaccinated, noting that between 25% and 30% of all new cases are children (27% Monday) and that 5-to-11-year-olds have the second highest infection rate.
“Compared to the rest of the population, if you have a 5- to 11-year-old, they are significantly more likely to get Covid than at any previous time during the pandemic,” he said.
Beshear said it should be possible for anyone to get a booster shot, and he is evaluating the legal effect of executive orders in other states that allow that, going beyond federal guidelines.
So far, 2.6 million Kentuckians have received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, or 58% of the total population. Beshear said 425,401 Kentuckians have gotten a booster shot and that in the first week of availability, 15,163 Kentucky children between the ages of 5-11 got their first vaccination.
Daily numbers: Since Saturday, Kentucky reported 3,034 new cases of the coronavirus, 726 of them on Monday. That brought the seven-day average to 1,950, a level not seen since mid-October.
The share of Kentuckians testing positive for the virus in the last seven days is 5.73%. This rate has gone up for three weeks in a row after dropping for seven consecutive weeks. Beshear said it has plateaued around 5.5%, and the state may pivot to a different indicator to measure the virus since more people get tested when the spread is high.
The seven-day infection rate is 27.02 daily cases per 100,000 residents, up from 24.85 cases on Friday. Counties with rates more than double Monday’s rate are Powell, 82.1; Breckinridge, 79.5; Magoffin, 75.2; Monroe, 64.4; Harrison, 61.3; and Bourbon, 59.9. The New York Times ranks Kentucky 26th for its infection rate and says it has increased 2% in the last 14 days.
Sixty-five of the state’s 120 counties are in red on the state infection map, for those with more than 25 daily cases per 100,000 residents. That’s up from 51 counties in the red zone on Friday.
Beshear said Kentucky’s hospital numbers are also plateauing and remain too high. Hospitals reported 719 Covid-19 patients, 16 more than Friday; 191 in intensive care (up 2) and 105 on mechanical ventilation (up 3).
Seven of the state’s hospital regions are using at least 80% of their intensive-care beds, with four over 90%.
Beshear said 36 of the state’s 96 acute-care hospitals are reporting critical staffing shortages, the fewest in months.
The state has reported 76 more Covid-19 deaths since Saturday, 10 of them on Monday. Three were of people in their 40s. The state’s pandemic death toll is now 10,280.
Beshear reminded Kentuckians that the pandemic is not over and said “we cannot grow numb.” He added that it will continue to take a collective effort to get on the other side of the pandemic, and that includes getting more people vaccinated and boosted.