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New York Times numbers on local COVID cases not accurate

Newspaper releases numbers that don’t add up

Positive COVID-19 cases are rising in Danville, but the rate of increase is not quite as scary as what a national news media outlet recently reported.

Boyle County Health Department Director Brent Blevins said on Monday that the county’s number of COVID-19 cases “in the general population have been going up for the past two months, just like they are across the nation.” But the most infections during the past couple of weeks have been outbreaks in a couple of local long-term care facilities, he explained.

“We have four long-term care facilities and the Boyle County Detention Center and Northpoint Training Center,” Blevins said. So when an outbreak occurs in those facilities, which they recently have encountered, and the numbers go up quickly, “They count against us.”

On Monday morning the New York Times posted the story “Monitoring the Coronavirus Outbreak in Metro Areas Across the U.S.” Under the section titled, “There May Be Bad News Ahead,” Danville, Kentucky was listed as being the fifth-fastest metro or micro area in the U.S. where newly reported virus cases were rising on a population-adjusted basis (per capita), behind Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania; Jasper, Indiana; Scottsboro, Alabama; and St. George, Utah.

According to the story, as of Monday morning, Danville micro area had reported 243 cases of COVID-19 cases one week ago and had 460 now, making it a change of 397 per 100,000 population.

In smaller print, the story stated that the metro and micro areas included “at least 50,000 people.”

Blevins said he didn’t know how those figures were calculated because Danville’s population was about 17,000 and the entire population of Boyle County is only about 30,000.

Albert Sun, the New York Times assistant editor, news platforms, said in an email that the Danville Micropolitan Statistical Area, defined by the U.S. Census Bureau, includes Boyle and Lincoln counties. He also said, “The case counts come originally from the Kentucky Department of Public Health.”

Therefore Boyle County and Lincoln County figures are combined.

Blevins said, “The biggest issue is our long-term care facilities, and they will be the biggest issue to come.”

According to the Kentucky Coronavirus Map and Case Count by county published by The New York Times, Boyle has a total of 1,220 total cases with a daily average within the past seven days of 37.4 positive cases. Lincoln has a total of 882 cases with a daily average of the past seven days of 28.3 positive cases.

“As of Monday morning, there have been at least 204,772 cases and 2,250 deaths in Kentucky since the beginning of the pandemic,” according to a New York Times database.

Ephraim McDowell Regional Medical Center now has a total of 41 beds available for COVID-19 patients, according to hospital spokesperson Jeremy Cocanougher. As of Monday afternoon, 34 COVID patients were being cared for at EMRMC, he said.

At Ephraim McDowell Health’s Ft. Logan Hospital in Stanford, the facility has three COVID beds and one COVID patient on Monday. Its Haggin Memorial Hospital has two COVID patients with the ability to care for three, Cocanougher said.

“As you can see, we are not full,” he said. “And we’re continuing to work on adding more COVID beds,” if they’re needed.