LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The coronavirus disease continues to infect Kentuckians, and many local medical experts are examining how the infection has evolved since March 2020.

What You Need To Know

  • Medical experts in Kentucky are seeing COVID-19 evolve in different ways

  • As of Oct. 21, Kentucky had a positivity rate of 8.50% and has recorded 17,191 total deaths since the pandemic began

  • The disease’s spread is now varied in different areas of the Commonwealth

  • Doctors recommend hand washing, masking and staying away from close contact if you feel sick 

The latest data from the state reveals a weekly positivity rate of 8.50% and 17,191 total deaths since the pandemic began.

There’s a lot to unpack as we head into another fall and winter of the COVID-19 pandemic. Dr. Kenneth “Chuck” Anderson, vice president and chief medical officer at Baptist Health Louisville, said the big takeaway is hospitalizations are down, but COVID-19 testing may skew the number of cases the state actually has.

The spread of COVID-19 moved quickly throughout the United States, but today in Kentucky, the spread is varying.

“This season is totally different. Is it the flu or is it COVID-19? A lot of people will question, well we just saw a lot of flu and it was COVID-19 intermixed,” said Dr. Anderson.

Testing is the only way to distinguish the two, Anderson said. In the early days of COVID-19, symptoms included a notable loss of smell. Now, new symptoms include a sore throat, congestion and fever—all of which align with the flu.

As for testing, most Kentuckians aren’t relying on pharmacies and health care facilities, which can lead to incomplete statewide data. 

“A lot of people are doing home testing, so if they’re COVID-19 positive, they’re testing themselves with their home test. They’re not necessarily reporting it, so we don’t know what the true numbers are,” Anderson said. “I think the numbers are a lower reflection because we don’t know a lot of these people who are positive.”

The latest COVID-19 numbers reveal western and most of central Kentucky are in the green zone. Moving further east, the map reveals more yellow zones. Magoffin, Johnson, Floyd and Letcher are currently in the red zone.

Dr. Anderson said the biggest thing medical experts across the country are weighing this fall is the possibility of formulating a new vaccine for future variants.

“It’s hard to predict right now because it’s acting differently, so to speak. So are we going to need another vaccine next fall? Are we going to need a different vaccine next fall? Spring? I don’t think we know yet, but right now this is the vaccine… bivalent for right now,” said Dr. Anderson.

The severity of COVID-19 isn’t as bad this season as it was last season, and Dr. Anderson says there are still ways to prevent the spread like hand washing, masking and keeping away from close contact with people if you feel sick.

Currently, Baptist Health Louisville is seeing fewer people in the hospital because of COVID-19. Nearly 14 patients in the hospital out of 400 are battling COVID-19 and need specialized treatment.