Thursday, November 17, 2022

Only 10 Kentucky counties are at medium risk of Covid-19 and the rest are at low risk, but flu and RSV levels remain high

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention map, emphasizing Kentucky
By Melissa Patrick
Kentucky Health News

In the best Covid-19 report Kentucky has seen in a long while, the latest Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's national risk map says only 10 Kentucky counties, all in the east, are at medium risk of the disease, and the rest of the state is at low risk. 

The medium-risk counties on the risk map, shown in yellow, are Greenup, Carter, Boyd, Lawrence, Martin, Johnson, Magoffin, Floyd, Pike and Letcher. Low risk counties are shown in green. 

The CDC says people in yellow counties who are immunocompromised, or at high risk for severe illness from the virus, should talk to a health-care provider about whether they need to wear a mask or take other precautions.

The New York Times ranks Kentucky's infection rate 36th among the states, with a 54% drop in cases in the last two weeks.

CDC map, emphasizing Kentucky; click to enlarge
The CDC also has a transmission-level map that shows the level of virus spread in each county, at one of four levels. The map shows four Kentucky counties at low levels of transmission, 25 at moderate levels and the rest have either substantial or high levels. This transmission data is largely used by researchers and health-care facilities. 

State health officials have encouraged Kentuckians to use the other CDC risk map, which includes both cases and hospital data to determine risk, to guide their preventive measures. 

Meanwhile, influenza and RSV cases remain high. RSV stands for respiratory syncytial virus, a common virus that usually causes mild, cold-like symptoms. And while most people recover in a week or two, it can be serious for infants and older adults.

At his weekly news conference Thursday, Gov. Andy Beshear again urged Kentuckians to get their annual flu vaccine and Covid-19 booster shot, noting that the spread of these respiratory diseases is so bad that the state's pediatric hospitals are filling up, pediatric intensive-care beds are almost full, and schools have had to close because so many viruses are going around.  

"If we want to protect against this, and we don't want to have to cancel days, we recommend getting your flu shot and getting boosted for Covid," Beshear said. "The Covid booster provides protection against Omicron [variants] out there. And approaching the holidays, where we're gonna get our youngest Kentuckians that are at risk of RSV and our oldest Kentuckians that are at most risk of Covid all coming together with the rest of us -- let's just do what it takes to protect them."

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