COVID cases, hospitalizations continue decline in Kentucky after ‘system shock’

Kentucky is the only state where fewer ICU beds are currently in use than were in use three months ago.

Gov. Beshear provides Monday update on COVID-19 response in Kentucky

FRANKFORT, Ky. (FOX19) - Kentucky experienced a second consecutive week of declining COVID-19 cases for the first time since summer.

The decline in weekly case totals underscores the notion vocalized by Gov. Andy Beshear in recent weeks that Kentucky’s early winter case surge has plateaued, something few other states can say.

Kentucky COVID-19 cases per week
Kentucky COVID-19 cases per week (Source: Kentucky Department of Public Health)

The commonwealth’s positivity rate has stabilized after falling from above 10 percent during the surge’s peak. It stands at 8.64 percent as of Monday.

COVID-19 percent test positivity rate by week in Kentucky
COVID-19 percent test positivity rate by week in Kentucky (Source: Kentucky Department of Public Health)

Just two of Kentucky’s 10 regions in the Department of Public Health’s hospitalization map are reporting above 80 percent ICU bed usage.

Beshear highlighted a Washington Post report that finds Kentucky is the only state where fewer ICU beds are in current use than were in use three months ago.

Currently 1,580 Kentuckians are hospitalized with COVID-19, 411 are in ICUs and 231 are on ventilators.

Current daily hospitalizations in Kentucky Nov. 11-Dec. 19
Current daily hospitalizations in Kentucky Nov. 11-Dec. 19 (Source: WXIX)

“With the rest of the country on fire, this is good news,” Beshear said Monday of the apparent case plateau. “Good news in that our efforts are absolutely making a difference.”

KDHP Commissioner Steven Stack, MD, added: “This is not an accident. This is because Kentuckians have been asked to make significant sacrifices and you answered the call.”

Both Beshear and Stack have credited the governor’s three-week “shock to the system” for slowing the virus in Kentucky. The restrictions began Nov. 18. Many of them expired last week.

“All [the] indicators would seem to suggest we have done what we hoped to accomplish these last few weeks,” Stack said. “So now the ball is in your court. We have Christmas, we have New Years. The ball is in your court folks. We have to get through the next two weeks and not cause a horrible self-inflicted wound.”

Holiday Guidance | Full guidance, one-pager, single slide

Holiday guidance issued last week calls for small gatherings and limited travel, among other recommendations.

COVID in NKY

Despite good news statewide, incident rates show COVID-19 remains stubbornly virulent in Northern Kentucky’s largest counties.

Incident rates represent daily new cases of COVID-19 per 100,000 residents on average over the previous week.

Below are incident rates from Nov. 23, Nov. 30, Dec. 7, Dec. 14 and Monday.

  • Boone County: 80.1 - 63.6 - 80.6 - 66.4 - 71.4
  • Kenton County: 64.2 - 49.6 - 65.4 - 57 - 67.6
  • Campbell County: 66.7 - 48.4 - 61.5 - 52.4 - 55.4

Vaccine Update

Beshear announced last week Kentucky would receive an additional 60,100 doses of COVID-19 vaccines before the end of the year, putting the 2020 total at 175,825.

Now it appears that number may increase.

The governor says, pending manufacturing schedules and moves at the federal level, Kentucky could receive additional doses of the Pfizer vaccine the last week of the year. How much and exactly when remain to be seen.

Beshear also said Monday vaccinations in long-term care facilities could extend into February with a targeted completion date of March 1. Previously he has said he hoped to finish vaccinations in such facilities by Feb. 1.

The change reflects the difference in vaccine amounts received versus what the federal government had initially promised.

Previously Monday: Kentucky’s long-term care facilities receive first rounds of COVID-19 vaccine

“Today we celebrate another great and hopeful day in our battle against COVID-19,” Beshear said Monday afternoon as the first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine were distributed at a long-term care facility.

“Long-term care residents and the front-line staff who care for them are beginning to receive the life-saving Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. Since two-thirds of coronavirus deaths in Kentucky come from long-term care facilities, these vaccinations – a modern-day medical miracle – have the real potential to save lives and significantly reduce COVID-19′s burden on our health care system.”

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