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COVID-19 Cases And Hospitalizations Drop In Louisville

Volunteers work to administer vaccines to Kentuckians at the Broadbent Arena drive-thru vaccination site.
Volunteers work to administer vaccines to Kentuckians at the Broadbent Arena drive-thru vaccination site.

Louisville health officials reported nearly 3,000 COVID-19 cases over the last week.

The city’s chief health strategist Dr. Sarah Moyer said Jefferson County is still in the red zone, indicating uncontrolled spread of coronavirus. But she said numbers are trending down. Last Tuesday, the city reported just over 3,000 cases in the preceding week.

“Numbers are going down, and continue to go down,” Moyer said. “We had our lowest weekly count in a month. So that is some positive news that we are trending in the right direction.”

Moyer said some zip codes in Louisville are now in the orange zone, since spread has improved in those areas. For continued improvement, she encouraged more residents to get tested.

There were 39 new deaths over the last week, an increase of 13 from the previous week. Louisville’s total death toll is now at 815.

Local hospitalizations decreased by more than 40 since last week, down to 334. Representatives from Louisville’s three major hospital systems – University of Louisville Health, Norton Healthcare and Baptist Health – each gave an update at Tuesday’s press conference.

Dr. Jason Smith, chief medical officer at UofL, said the system dropped below a hundred COVID-19 patients for the first time since before Thanksgiving.

“We’ve actually seen a [decline] in the number of admitted patients, which is absolutely fantastic,” he said. “It’s what we’re all hoping for.”

Although the number of admissions is decreasing, ICU occupancy and ventilator usage increased a bit citywide, at 102 and 74, respectively. Officials reported 96 patients in the ICU and 62 on ventilators in the week preceding last Tuesday's briefing. None of the hospitals reported capacity or supply shortages.

Mayor Greg Fischer said the LouVax mass vaccination site at Broadbent Arena will reach another milestone this week.

About 17,000 people have been vaccinated at the site so far. And another 8,000 appointments are scheduled this week, more than a quarter of which are for second doses.

“This is the first week at [the] LouVax site of really having a volume of the second doses coming out, so another sign of progress,” Fischer said.

The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines currently approved for use in the United States require two doses, weeks apart, for longer-term immunity.

LouVax is in its fifth week of administering vaccines to top priority groups. Vaccinations for middle and high school teachers will begin this week as Jefferson County Public Schools plans for a return to in-person learning. By last Friday, officials said most public and private elementary school teachers were believed to have received their first dose.

John, News Editor for LPM, is a corps member with Report For America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms. Email John at jboyle@lpm.org.