LEXINGTON, Ky. — Numbers do not lie, and they show that after more than two years, when the COVID-19 pandemic will end remains a mystery.
What You Need To Know
- Community risk for COVID-19 is high
- Cases have increased in most Kentucky counties
- Statistics do not include positive home tests
- Getting vaccinated remains best defense
A majority of Kentucky counties, including Fayette and Jefferson, are in the “red zone,” which means the community level of new COVID-19 infections is high.
Christina King, communications generalist at the Lexington-Fayette County Health Department, said an increase in new cases is expected after a lengthy period of cases decreasing. As of Friday, July 22, 124 new COVID-19 cases were reported for Fayette County, which takes the total number of cases to 106,399.
“We had seen cases trending downward, and guidance was relaxed and people were getting back out and about in the community,” King said. “Whenever the restrictions and recommendations become more relaxed, it is natural then to see an increase in cases. So I think that’s where we’re at right now.”
King said the 124 new cases reported in Fayette County are lab confirmed.
“As we know, many people are now using the home tests and those home tests are not included in this number,” she said. “In all likelihood, that number is actually quite a bit higher than 124. We just want to remind people that what this means is this pandemic is not over yet. We’re still on our way to getting it into the endemic stages, but in order to do that, we all need to be vaccinated—we need a higher vaccination rate. Right now, everyone ages 6 months and older is eligible for a vaccination.”
King said it is likely that unvaccinated people chose to not get the vaccine after cases began decreasing, mask mandates were lifted, and people and businesses started returning to normalcy.
“I believe that many people thought that way when they saw that the mask guidance was being lifted,” she said. “Wearing a mask is still highly recommended, it is not mandated, but it is recommended that you still wear a mask when you are out in public spaces, especially crowded indoor situations.”
King said that although many new cases of COVID-19 are in vaccinated individuals, those people are having much milder symptoms. As for the variants, she said those symptoms vary on a person-to-person basis and are based on whether one is vaccinated, boosted and has any underlying conditions.
“Two and a half years into a pandemic, I think COVID exhaustion is real. Everyone’s tired of it,” she said. “We don’t want to talk about it anymore. We don’t want to see it anymore. We don’t want to deal with it anymore.” King added.
She said combating the pandemic has gotten somewhat easier since it began because people are learning more about it.
“We have more resources where we’re at today compared to where we were when the pandemic began,” she said. “I cannot say how proud I have been of not only the health department but the entire city, the way Lexington has really worked together to help our community stay healthy and safe. We have all the tools that we need right now. We’ve just got to keep working together to see it through to the end.”
Jefferson County is also in the “high” COVID-19 community spread as defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The Louisville Department of Public Health and Wellness (LMPHW) reports 2,869 new confirmed cases in the past week. The LMPHW released a statement reminding citizens to wear a well-fitting mask indoors in public, on public transportation, and in crowded outdoor areas regardless of vaccination status; stay up-to-date with COVID-19 vaccines; get tested if you have symptoms; speak with your doctor if you are at high risk for severe illness and consider taking additional precautions; and stay home if you are sick.
Jefferson County Public Schools (JCPS) will require universal masking on school property because of the current high level of community spread. Everyone, regardless of vaccination status, will be required to wear a mask on district property or on school buses.
District policy automatically requires universal masking whenever the county has a high level of COVID-19 community spread. When community spread in Jefferson County drops, masks will become optional. JCPS begins classes on Aug. 10.
Eight Kentucky health departments are taking part in the “Kentucky COVID-19 Vaccine Extravaganza” in July and August to get more Kentuckians vaccinated and boosted against the coronavirus.
“It’s important for Kentucky families to stay up-to-date on COVID-19 vaccines, especially as we’re seeing increased COVID-19 cases across the commonwealth,” according to a news release from the state government. “Getting a COVID-19 vaccine and staying up to date with boosters is the best protection against serious illness from the virus.”
The state reports that 66% of the state’s population has received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine; 57% are fully vaccinated; and 26% have been boosted. Research shows a booster is needed to protect against the current variant.