Sunday, March 21, 2021

Positive-test rate for novel coronavirus drops below 3% in Ky. as new cases continue their slow decline, but ICU ventilation rises

Twelve of the dozens of images in Hoptown Chronicle's visual, vertical timeline of the pandemic
By Al Cross
Kentucky Health News

The course of the Covid-19 pandemic in Kentucky crossed another threshold Sunday: In the last seven days, fewer than 3 percent of residents tested for the novel coronavirus got a positive result. That continued a general decline for the last month and a half that has brought the positive-test rate to levels not seen since June, the first full month that testing was widely available.

Kentucky Health News graph; for a larger version, click on it.
New-case numbers are based on initial, unadjusted daily reports.
The state reported 316 new cases of the virus, the fewest on any Sunday since Sept. 6. That brought the seven-day rolling average of new cases to 665, virtually the same as it was Sept. 1.

The only sign of increased concern was that Covid-19 patients in intensive care were more likely than ever to be on ventilators. Kentucky hospitals reported 463 Covid-19 patients, six more than Saturday, with an unchanged number of 111 in intensive-care units. But the number of those on ventilators rose by six, to 71, meaning that 64% of ICU Covid-19 patients were mechanically ventilated, the highest share since Kentucky Health News began tracking it in late October.

Kentucky's rate of new cases over the last seven days ranked 22nd in the nation, according to The New York Times. The state's new-case numbers have declined more slowly in the last 10 days than they did the previous 20, but numbers in other states have gone up, improving Kentucky's national ranking.

The state said its rate dropped by .09, to an average of 11.89 daily cases per 100,000 residents. Counties with rates more than double the statewide rate were: Lyon. 148; Simpson, 74.6; Knox, 39; Trimble, 33.7; Hopkins, 27.8; Clay, 27.3; Jackson, 25.7; Powell, 25.4; Bell, 24.7; and Whitley, 24.4.

Counties with five or more new cases Sunday were: Jefferson, 67; Fayette, 32; Warren, 13; Bullitt, 9; Kenton, Lyon and Perry, 8; Madison and Simpson, 7; Henderson, Shelby and Trigg, 6; and Campbell, Daviess, Hardin, Hopkins and Pulaski, 5.

The state added 16 more fatalities to its list of Covid-19 deaths, plus two that it said were found by the ongoing audit of death certificates. Not counting those two, the state has added an average of 23.9 deaths per day to the list over the last two weeks. The daily average for the past month is 25.2.

As usual on a weekend, the state did not issue an itemized list of deaths by county, age, sex and date.

In other pandemic news Sunday:
  • Dr. Moncef Slaoui, former chief science adviser for vaccine development in the Trump administration, said on CBS's "Face the Nation" that it is a sign of civility and respect to others to wear a mask even if you have been vaccinated. He was commenting on Sen. Rand Paul's accusation that Dr. Anthony Fauci was engaging in "theater" by wearing a mask. Morgan Watkins of the Courier Journal reports on the dust-up and CJ columnist Joe Gerth says Paul is the one who's being theatrical.
  • Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson said on CNN's "State of the Union" that he is abolishing its mask mandate because people in his state have become educated about the need for masks and "Common sense is going to replace mandates." Now, he said, they need education to overcome their hesitancy or resistance to getting vaccinated.
  • Former Food and Drug Administration commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb said on "Face the Nation" that unless a more potent virus variant emerges, he doesn't expect a true "fourth wave" of cases in the nation because vaccinations are accelerating and millions who haven't gotten a shot have some immunity from being exposed to the virus. "There's not a lot of people left to infect," Gottlieb said. "Maybe we'll see an uptick in certain parts of the country."
  • As the Covid-19 pandemic officially entered the second week of its second year, Hoptown Chronicle built a visual, vertical timeline of how it has gone in Kentucky, Christian County and Hopkinsville. It ends with comments solicited from readers on how they have adapted to the new normal.
  • The Washington Post interviewed 17 students across the country, from kindergarten through high school, about what they learned about school and life during the pandemic.

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