Kentucky’s COVID case count continues to soar

People line up for a COVID-19 test at Wild Health's testing site at 1505 College Way on the University of <a class=Kentucky campus in Lexington, Ky., Monday, Dec. 27, 2021.” title=”People line up for a COVID-19 test at Wild Health’s testing site at 1505 College Way on the University of Kentucky campus in Lexington, Ky., Monday, Dec. 27, 2021.” loading=”lazy”/>

People line up for a COVID-19 test at Wild Health’s testing site at 1505 College Way on the University of Kentucky campus in Lexington, Ky., Monday, Dec. 27, 2021.

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The rate of Kentuckians testing positive for COVID-19 continues to rise, and on Thursday, for the first time in the pandemic, that rate topped 31%.

The state reported 13,614 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, 20 deaths and a positivity rate of 31.37%, down from 30.77% on Wednesday.

The past two weeks have brought by far a record number of new coronavirus cases – the Commonwealth recorded 72,165 cases last week, more than double the highest weekly total during the delta surge. At a press conference earlier Thursday, Governor Andy Beshear said this week’s totals were on track to surpass last week. Since Sunday, the state has reported 51,313 new infections.

But there could be a light approaching at the end of the tunnel, the governor said.

“Our hope is that we are within weeks of peaking,” Beshear said, referring to infection curves in other states like New York and Washington, D.C., where omicron surges that started before those in the Kentucky are stabilizing or even declining.

In the meantime, COVID-19-related hospitalizations continue to rise, threatening to further burden the state’s tired health care system. As of Thursday, 2,298 people were admitted to hospitals in Kentucky with coronavirus (an increase of 42 people in the last day, 200 more than a week ago); 434 are in intensive care units with coronavirus (21 less); and 271 people rely on a ventilator to breathe (an increase of 19).

Minutes before Kentucky’s daily coronavirus report was released, Lexington Mayor Linda Gorton announced that she and her husband, Charlie, had tested positive. Both are fully vaccinated and boosted.

“We both have mild symptoms,” Gorton said.

Statewide, 55% of the population — 65% of adults — are fully vaccinated and 22% of people — 28% of adults — have received a booster shot, according to the Kentucky Department for Public Health.

Alex Acquisto covers health and human services for the Lexington Herald-Leader and Kentucky.com. She joined the newspaper in June 2019 as a corps member with Report for America, a national service program made possible in Kentucky with support from the Blue Grass Community Foundation. She is from Owensboro, Kentucky, and previously worked at the Bangor Daily News and other Maine newspapers.
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