COVID-19 in Kentucky: Commonwealth records nearly 10,000 cases last week

Posted at 3:26 PM, Oct 26, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-26 21:51:32-04

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — There's no way of shedding our coronavirus fatigue if we're going to be shedding the virus at this rate.

Last week alone, Kentucky recorded 9,335 new cases; that's an increase of more than 1,600 cases from the state's previous weekly high recorded earlier this month.

Thirty-one counties across the state are mired in a red zone status, while hospitalizations due to the virus are approaching 900.

"A large number of cases are with these long-term care facilities, and rehabilitative programs," said Kevin Hall from the Lexington-Fayette County Health Department.

But Hall and department officials aren't ready to pin it all on long-term facilities.

"We're hearing (through contact tracing) that people are having gatherings like weddings and funerals and parties," he said. "We understand with wedding and funerals life goes on, but we need people to follow the guidelines."

Hall said those guidelines include wearing a mask inside when gathering with anyone who is not a member of your household.

Across town at the University of Kentucky, officials are concerned on several levels as winter approaches. Flu shots are mandatory on campus this season for all graduate and undergrad students because the university has a legitimate concern about keeping its Albert Chandler hospital's capacity to a manageable level. But an outbreak of flu or COVID-19 could make that impossible. They also worry about students spending more time inside as we lose daylight hours and warm temperatures.

"If you find yourself in a situation where you're closer than 6 feet apart, both parties, or all parties, should be wearing a mask," said Colleen Swartz, UK Healthcare vice president of hospital operations.

Swartz said she is concerned students might let down their guard inside dorm rooms where they might feel less inclined to wear a mask while in their own living space.

Dr. Mark Newman, who serves as UK's executive vice president for health affairs, said the flu numbers from the southern hemisphere are somewhat promising as we head into our flu season.

"We always worry about capacity during flu season," Newman said, before noting that they monitor their hospital capacity numbers daily.

Newman added that while our positivity rate is currently high, he felt, back in February, that it would be worse by now, especially as it relates to hospitalizations.

UK had set up a triage center in anticipation of having the need, but it was never used, and there is no plan, according to Newman, to bring it back.