FRANKFORT, Ky. (FOX19) - Kentucky’s first two confirmed cases of the UK coronavirus variant are both in Kenton County, according to Gov. Andy Beshear.
The variant spreads more aggressively than normal, but there is no proof yet it is more deadly.
According to Public Health Commissioner Dr. Steven Stack, the variant may cause more death but only by virtue of infecting more people, not because the variant itself is more deadly.
The Northern Kentucky Health Department has completed contact tracing on the positive cases. The two individuals were required to quarantine, and those considered in close contact to the cases were notified they should quarantine, self-monitor for symptoms and get tested if they feel sick.
NKY Health notes the positive samples came from tests performed in January.
No more information about the individuals has been released.
Beshear said Tuesday it’s safe to assume the variant has moved beyond these two individuals given its increased contagiousness. “We are casting a wide net to find and check different positive tests for this,” he said.
The UK variant has been found in 293 cases across 24 U.S. states so far.
According to Stack, the variant does not produce different symptoms or change the onset of symptoms if they arise. Nor does it change the recommended quarantine timeline.
Stack emphasized both vaccines are “still effective and still valuable” against the variant.
Still, the variant underscores the need for Kentuckians to take precautions against spread of the virus, not only because the variant itself is more contagious, but also because greater spread — more cases — increases the chance of new mutations.
“Now more than ever, we all must absolutely be vigilant in using the preventative measures that we know are effective - wearing face masks, social distancing, avoiding gatherings, hand-washing and not going to work, school or events if you are feeling ill,” NKY Health Director Dr. Lynne Saddler said.
Overall spread of the virus continues to slow in Kentucky, as reflected in a declining positivity rate and falling case numbers following the state’s post-holiday surge.
Kentucky recorded 2,424 newly confirmed cases of COVID-19 Wednesday and 47 new virus-related deaths.
The state’s rolling seven-day positivity rate is 9.35 percent, a decline of more than three points since the rate crested in early January.
Currently 1,597 patients are hospitalized with COVID-19 in Kentucky. Of those hospitalized, 387 are in ICUs and 225 are on ventilators.
Beshear said the data is pointing in the right direction and that he could “start considering” easing restrictions, such as capacity limits and school guidance, if the downward trend continues.
Kentucky has received 466,700 total vaccine doses, a figure unchanged from Tuesday.
Of the total doses received, 120,900 have been diverted to the long-term care facility program per a federal contract. These include first and second doses.
Of those doses, 50,443 have been administered, an increase of 2,174 since Tuesday.
Of the 345,800 doses funneled through the state program, 288,063 have been administered, an increase of 16,724 since Tuesday.
A total of 338,506 doses have been administered in the state.
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