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Kentucky's Weekly COVID Numbers Continue To Escalate

KY State Capitol-05542
The Kentucky State Capitol on 4/9/20, lit up green in memory of those who died from COVID-19.

Kentucky’s escalation in new cases of COVID-19 continued Monday as the state broke several records highlighting just how far and deep the scourge has embedded in our communities.

For the third week in a row, the state reached a new high in total weekly cases. The number of patients hospitalized with COVID-19 is at an all-time high as are the number of patients in intensive care units and on ventilators.

“Every one of our metrics has reached new highs just in the last one day or so,” said Public Health Commissioner Dr. Steven Stack. “Those numbers continue to show signs of increasing.

It could still be several weeks out before the hospitals begin to reach capacity if cases continue on their current trajectory, but staffing shortages could appear sooner, Gov. Andy Beshear said.

Both Beshear and Stack joined the chorus of public health experts around the country who've said Thanksgiving and other winter holidays could cause further spikes in cases.

“I am very worried that what we are in for in the next two to three months could be quite alarming because we are about to do things that could supercharge this pandemic and make it go thermonuclear,” Stack said.

Family gatherings continue to be the major source of transmission, said Beshear.

“These family gatherings are spreading COVID like crazy,” Beshear said. “And it’s a place and a time when people let their guard down.”

By the numbers

  • New Cases: 1,745
  • Hospitalized: 1,133
  • In ICU Beds: 300
  • On Ventilators: 142
  • Positivity Rate: 7.49%
  • New Deaths: 11 (the highest ever on a Monday)

The state has hired more than 900 contact tracers to reach out to those who have tested positive for the virus, but new cases are emerging so fast they have outpaced tracing efforts in the state, Stack said. He speculated that last week’s cases would likely have been even higher if more people had gotten tested, and believes it's likely cases continue to trend upwards this week.

The continuing surge follows the first week of Red Zone Recommendations put in place by the state designed to curtail behaviors that spread the virus in counties where the transmission rate is above 25 per 100,000 cases. Recommendations are in place for 81 counties this week.

It wasn’t all bad news during the Monday new briefing, however.

Stack reassured Kentuckians that they can expect to receive a vaccine sometime next year with the first available doses going to those who are the most vulnerable.

Ryan Van Velzer is WFPL's Energy and Environment Reporter. Email Ryan at rvanvelzer@lpm.org.