FRANKFORT, Ky. — COVID-19 cases are on the rise in Kentucky, more than doubling in the last three weeks. The 7-day positivity rate is now at 5.48%. For perspective, the 7-day positivity rate at the beginning of the month was below 2%.
What You Need To Know
- COVID-19 cases are on the rise in Kentucky, more than doubling in the last three weeks
- The 7-day positivity rate has nearly tripled since the beginning of the month
- Gov. Andy Beshear updated masking suggestions for vaccinated and unvaccinated Kentuckians
- Doctors with Norton Healthcare say getting vaccinated is the best line of defense
During Gov. Andy Beshear's coronavirus briefing Monday, he asked Kentuckians to take additional precautions including:
- All unvaccinated Kentuckians should wear masks indoors when not in their home
- Kentuckians at higher risk due to pre-existing conditions should wear masks when not in their home
- Vaccinated Kentuckians in jobs with significant public exposure should consider wearing a mask at work
- All unvaccinated Kentuckians, when eligible, should be vaccinated immediately
“We have the most aggressive variant that we have seen to date in our battle against COVID. It’s a serious, even deadly, threat to unvaccinated Kentuckians,” said Beshear. “If more adults don’t get vaccinated, it’s not just adults who pay the price. It’s our kids who will. Many of them can’t get vaccinated yet, and they count on us to make good decisions and do the right thing.”
This comes as the Delta variant poses a challenge to fighting COVID-19, leading to a resurgence around the United States. Here in Kentucky, 26 cases of the Delta variant had been reported per the last update last week. Beshear said he believes the number is actually much larger than that.
"Right now, we're not able to sequence enough of the positive cases to be able to tell you all of those are the Delta variant, but what the experts say is that the vast majority of all of our cases now are the Delta variant and how quickly it has grown," said Beshear.
Dr. Paul Schulz of Norton Healthcare said healthcare providers can't test if a positive COVID-19 result is the Delta variant or not in their facilities. Some samples have been sent to the state lab for testing. The state then works with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to test those select samples. Since they are not testing all positive cases to find out if it is the Delta variant, Schulz also said the number of positive cases in the Commonwealth is likely much higher than what is reported.
When asked what could lead to the case and positivity rate increase, aside from the Delta variant, Schulz said he worries people are quick to mistake mild symptoms for seasonal allergies. He asked anyone who does not feel well to stay home. He also said the limited mask-wearing he has been seeing could likely be a contributing factor.
“Well I made a trip to a large box store yesterday and was one of three people wearing a mask," Schulz said.
He went on to say he does not know what the vaccination rate was for people inside the store, but following state trends, it is likely there were unvaccinated people in there without a mask.
Taking a look at vaccination rates in the Commonwealth, Beshear said 61% of Kentuckians 18 or older have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.
“The more of us who are vaccinated, the less the virus is able to spread, to infect people and to hurt people. If you choose not to get vaccinated, that is your choice as well, but it is a particularly dangerous choice,” said Kentucky Department for Public Health Commissioner Dr. Steven Stack.
Dr. Kris Bryant of Norton Children's said the encouraging news is that the vaccines are effective against known variants. However, she said it is important that eligible Kentuckians get the vaccine. This comes as Kentuckians in younger age groups, which are eligible, are not getting vaccinated at the same rate as Kentucky's older populations.
“The vaccine is the best way to protect everybody who is eligible. What we know is if we look at kids who are 12 years of age, less than half of kids who are eligible have actually received the vaccine," said Bryant. "Those kids remain vulnerable to the Delta variant and other forms of the coronavirus."
When both Bryant and Schulz were asked if they think a mask mandate could return, they said it really depends on if this trend continues and how local and state health officials decide to handle it if that does happen.