Kentucky Hits Highest COVID Positivity Rate of Pandemic as Omicron Surges

"Omicron has not only come to the Commonwealth, it has hit us harder, in terms of escalation of cases, than anything we have seen to date.”

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Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear - Photo: Screengrab, YouTube
Photo: Screengrab, YouTube
Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear

At his Monday coronavirus briefing, Gov. Andy Beshear announced that Kentucky had its highest-ever daily COVID-19 positivity rate, 20.72%.

The state also hit its highest-ever number of positive cases in one day — 6,441 — last Thursday, Dec. 30 (the previous highest number was 5,742 cases on Jan. 6, 2021).  There were a total of 29,955 new COVID cases in Kentucky last week, close to twice the number from the week before.

“The most important thing for everyone to hear today is that Omicron has not only come to the Commonwealth, it has hit us harder, in terms of escalation of cases, than anything we have seen to date,” Gov. Beshear said. “We have gone from the plateau to the second highest week of reported cases since the start of the pandemic.”

A positivity rate measures the number of people who test positive for COVID-19 compared to how many people test for it in that state in total on a given day.

About three-fourths of Kentucky adults have received at least a first dose of a COVID vaccine, according to state data. This, according to Dr. Steven Stack, commissioner of the Kentucky Department for Public Health, is key in the fight against severe COVID cases and hospitalizations.

“The Omicron variant is spreading rapidly. Omicron spreads so easily, it is compared to measles, the most contagious human virus on the planet,” said Stack. “Hospitalization numbers are also increasing, though not yet as rapidly as cases, but healthcare resources are stretched very thin due to both the increased number of COVID patients in hospitals coupled with an even more strained health care workforce due to workers who are themselves out sick with COVID.”

Dr. Stack says that Kentuckians who test positive need to quarantine and encourage anyone they’ve been in close contact with to get tested as well.

In Ohio, Gov. Mike DeWine reported on Dec. 29 that 5,356 residents were hospitalized with COVID-19, surpassing the previous record of 5,308 hospitalizations from Dec. 15, 2020.

That same day, DeWine deployed 1,250 Ohio National Guardsmen to support operations at state hospitals, bringing the total to 2,300 deployed since Dec. 17. In a release, DeWine's office said, "The mobilization comes on the same day the state set an all-time high for the total number of COVID-19 hospitalizations during the pandemic."

Leaders at regional hospital systems have been saying for months that they're under great strain due to COVID-19. Exhausted healthcare workers are fearful of another coronavirus spike like the one that devastated the country last winter.

During a Dec. 15 media briefing with Hamilton County officials, Dr. Richard Lofgren, UC Health's president and CEO, said that COVID-19 continues to be a big threat within the region.

"If there's any message I have that's highlighted in the data, it's that this pandemic is not over. It is active and alive and is actually overwhelming our health systems," Lofgren said.

Watch Gov. Beshear's Jan. 3 briefing below.


A portion of this story was originally published by CityBeat sister paper
LEO Weekly.

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