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Louisville Officials Report Record-Breaking Weekly COVID-19 Case Total

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer stands at a podium during a July 2020 news conference.
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Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer said COVID-19 cases in Jefferson County have nearly doubled in a week, with samples all showing the delta variant.

Louisville health officials reported a record-breaking week for COVID-19 cases.

Last week, there were 3,592 new cases in Louisville. Mayor Greg Fischer said spread in the city is deep in the red zone. The city’s current rate of nearly 67 cases per 100,000 people is well above the red zone threshold of 25 cases per 100,000 people.

“The reality is that COVID-19 is spreading widely,” Mayor Greg Fischer said. “It’s out of control in the city right now. And we won’t get it under control just by ignoring it or wishing it would go away or waiting for it to go away.”

More than 30 Louisvillians died from COVID-19 last week. Louisville Chief Health Strategist Dr. Sarah Moyer said communities of color continue to experience the highest rates of infection and death, especially in younger age groups.

Moyer said Louisville continues to break records, though they aren’t “records of achievement,” and said every part of the city is in the red.

“Even if you might live outside Louisville and don’t live in a zip code that’s dark red yet, you probably interact with people every day who do,” she said.

In the last two weeks, more than 1,500 close contacts of people infected with COVID-19 have contracted the disease. More than half of these cases involved partners or people who live together, while nearly 80% caught it from a family member.

Despite those record-breaking levels of COVID-19, researchers from the University of Louisville’s Co-Immunity Project said numbers may be even higher. Dr. Aruni Bhatnagar and Dr. Rachel Keith joined Fischer’s briefing on Tuesday to share the most recent results from their ongoing study of COVID-19 spread in the city

Between September and November, the study showed infection rates jumped to 2% from 0.2%, a tenfold increase.  That figure rounds out to 1 in 50 Louisville residents, or around 13,000 people.

Bhatnagar said the actual number of COVID-19 cases could be up to five times higher than what is currently being reported.

“From the data that we gather from people who come forth and get tested, that represents only the tip of the iceberg,” he said. “If you look at the community in general, the rates of infection are much higher.”

The highest rates of infection were found in the northeast section of Jefferson County and the Shively area.

Moyer said 374 people are currently hospitalized with COVID-19, 99 are in the ICU, and 60 are on ventilators.

John is News Editor for LPM. Email John at jboyle@lpm.org.