All Ky. adults can get booster; new-case rate and hospitalizations up over 2%; cases in unmasked Warren County schools jump

New York Times map, adapted by Ky. Health News, shows cases increasing with colder weather.
To enlarge any image, click on it; for the interactive version of this map, with local data, click here.


By Melissa Patrick
Kentucky Health News

Gov. Andy Beshear has signed an executive order to allow all Kentucky adults to get a Covid-19 booster shot, citing the recent upticks in coronavirus cases and Covid-19 hospitalizations as the reason for this change.

“Folks, you really need to get vaccinated and get this booster, and now it should be fairly easy. It’s going to make you much safer over the next several months,” Beshear said in a news release.

Previously, boosters were officially available only to people 65 and older, adults at high risk of severe Covid-19, and those with high exposure to the virus through their jobs or living situation.

At least five other states (Arkansas, California, Colorado, New Mexico and West Virginia) have expanded eligibility, the release says. So has New York City. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is expected to authorize Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 booster shots for all adults this week, The New York Times reports.

Under Beshear’s order, all adults in Kentucky may get a Covid-19 booster six months after their second Moderna or Pfizer shot, or two months after the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

As of Wednesday, more than 437,000 Kentuckians had received a booster and 2.6 million, or 59% of the total population, had received at least one shot.

The state reported 2,195 new coronavirus cases Wednesday, raising the seven-day average by 31 (2.2 percent), to 1,431. Of Wednesday’s new cases, 29% are in people 18 and younger.

The share of Kentuckians testing positive for the virus jumped more than half a percentage point, to 6.24% from 5.73% on Tuesday. The rate is the highest since Oct. 21. Beshear has cautioned that the rate is not the best measurement of the pandemic because it tends to rose when there is an increase in disease in communities because more people get tested.

A more reliable metric, the seven-day infection rate, is 27.94 daily cases per 100,000 residents. That’s a noticeable jump from Tuesday’s 27.08. Counties with rates more than double that rate are Magoffin, 98.7; Breckinridge, 82.3; Robertson, 81.3; Bourbon, 72.2; Monroe, 61.7; Powell, 61.3; and Harrison, 58.2.

Seventy-three of the state’s 120 counties have rates over 25, considered a high level of transmission and represented by red on the state infection map. That’s six more than Tuesday.

The New York Times ranks Kentucky’s infection rate 25th among the states and says it has increased 16% in the last 14 days.

Kentucky hospitals reported 757 Covid-19 patients, 18 more than Tuesday (up 2.4%); 200 of them in intensive care (down 4); and 100 on mechanical ventilation (down 15).  Eight of the state’s 10 hospital regions are using at least 80% of their intensive-care beds, five of them more than 90%.

Kentucky reported 36 more Covid-19 deaths Wednesday, raising the pandemic death toll to 10,354.

Other pandemic news Wednesday: “Active Covid-19 cases among Warren County Public Schools students have more than tripled since the district dispensed with its universal masking policy Nov. 1,” the Bowling Green Daily News reports. The district has 73 cases; Bowling Green Independent Schools, “which has chosen to keep its universal masking requirement for at least one more month – reported 17 active student cases on its district dashboard Tuesday morning.”

To increase immunization among young adults, “Some public health experts are turning to ad campaigns that feature 20-somethings talking about their struggles with fatigue, memory loss and other symptoms associated with long Covid,” the term used to describe lingering effects after basic recovery from the disease, reports Derek Hawkins of The Washington Post. “The testimonials are devastating. One 20-year-old chokes up as she describes how she can’t remember first dates with her boyfriend, even after looking at photos.”

U.S. Sen. Rand Paul of Bowling Green issued a report on the economic cost of President Biden’s vaccine-or-test mandates in Kentucky, saying 677,458 Kentucky workers, or 34% of the state’s workforce, are at risk of losing their jobs if they do not comply with the mandates for employers of more than 100. It says 35% of retail workers risk losing their job if they resist the mandate. A report for all 50 states will be released tomorrow, said the release from the Republican senator, who is seeking re-election.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has suspended enforcement of the mandate for businesses with more than 100 employees after a federal appeals court upheld a stay of it last week, The Hill reports.

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