How is Kentucky faring against COVID-19? Why it’s hard to say right now

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

FRANKFORT, Ky. (FOX19) - The status of Kentucky’s fight against COVID-19 remains unclear nearly two weeks after the holiday season.

Tuesday the state recorded 3,052 newly confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 22 new virus-related deaths.

Placing the case number into context is difficult considering the dramatic peaks and troughs of late December and early January.

Holiday lab closures contributed to reporting lags, causing artificial highs and lows, sometimes in back-to-back days. At the same time, according to Gov. Andy Beshear, holiday gatherings caused an actual rise in new cases.

A rolling six-day average (in red below) bears out Beshear’s point. It also appears to verify his statement Tuesday that the surge from holiday gatherings may already be stabilizing.

Daily new COVID-19 cases in Kentucky in the month preceding Jan. 12
Daily new COVID-19 cases in Kentucky in the month preceding Jan. 12 (Source: WXIX)

Nearly every data point in Kentucky appeared to be declining at the beginning of December, suggesting the commonwealth had left its winter case surge behind without incurring the sort of sustained exponential increases seen in Tennessee and elsewhere.

The holiday case surge put all that in doubt. Now the data appear to suggest Kentucky may be on a winning path once more.

“We are sure that this is a surge caused by gatherings through the holidays, but there is a chance from what we are seeing in the data that while people gathered during the holidays, maybe now they’ve changed their behavior back to be being very careful,” he said. “If that’s the case, hopefully we’ll see a leveling off, but only the data over the next week is going to let us know.”

As well as case numbers, positivity rates spiked following the holidays but have since leveled off around 12 percent.

The current seven-day rolling average positivity rate in Kentucky is 12.23 percent.

Hospitalization data has remained relatively stable through the holiday surge. Some 1,733 Kentuckians are currently hospitalized with COVID-19, 397 are in ICUs and 205 are on ventilators.

The governor reaffirmed it’s “not clear yet” what the data show and that he wants to see more over the next days and weeks before deciding whether further executive actions are necessary.

At this time, he said he is not considering any such actions.

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