LOUISVILLE, KY — A spike in new COVID-19 cases is expected following last week's Kentucky Derby, according to Louisville's Chief Health Strategist.

What You Need To Know

  • Health officials expect a rise in new COVID-19 cases following Derby 147

  • New daily case numbers in Louisville already trending up prior to Derby

  • The majority of new cases in Louisville Metro are young adults 20-44

On Tuesday, Chief Health Strategist Dr. Sarah Moyer said she expects a spike in COVID-19 cases linked to Derby Week. On Saturday, more than 50,000 fans were spread throughout Churchill Downs. It's a third of a typical Derby crowd pre-pandemic but enough to be the largest sporting event turnout since the pandemic began. 

“So we are expecting an increase number in cases post-Derby and we saw an increase in cases last week even from spring break and people traveling and being out and about more," Moyer said during a weekly COVID-19 briefing.

Whether it will be a significant spike remains to be seen. 

The races began last Tuesday, "Champions Day," and attendance grew each day. On Saturday, the official attendance of the Kentucky Derby was 51,383. There are plenty of examples of people close to one another wearing and not wearing face coverings. Masks are currently required for outdoor events with more than 1,000 people.

Moyer recommends anyone who attended a Derby event who is not vaccinated to get a COVID-19 test this week. 

“Whether you attended a big Derby event or you had a smaller event in your house or neighborhood or went to a friend's house, if you are not vaccinated, please get tested,” she said.

A jockey wears a face mask post race (Spectrum News 1/Jonathon Gregg)

Vaccinated persons are not recommended to get tested unless they experience COVID-19 symptoms, according to Moyer.

At the moment, Metro Health is reporting more than 40% of Louisville residents are fully vaccinated but the number of new vaccinations continues to fall. 

“We are seeing a drop in the number of people getting their initial doses of the vaccine. We’re seeing good follow through on the second dose but very concerned about the drop of people getting their vaccine particularly the 20-40-year-old cohort," Louisvillev Mayor Greg Fischer said Tuesday. 

Moyer said the number of new COVID-19 cases has already been going up in Jefferson County.

Metro reported 859 new cases in Louisville on Monday.

It's the highest it's been in two months, according to Moyer. Moyer said the upward trend is linked to several factors including loosening restrictions.

"More sporting events are happening, whether community or school-related. Also seeing people travel more so that spread post Spring Break is starting to increase exponentially as well," Moyer said.