State’s positive rate drops, hospital numbers rise

More unvaccinated pregnant women getting sick, premature

The share of Kentuckians testing positive for the coronavirus in the last seven days dropped to 8 percent Wednesday, a good sign for waning transmission rates across the state, especially if it holds.

Even so, Kentucky’s seven-day infection rate ranks eighth among the states, despite a 40% drop over the last 14 days, according to an analysis of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data by The New York Times.

The state reports its infection rate to be 37.53 daily new cases per 100,000 residents. Counties with rates more than double that rate are Russell, 79.7; Powell, 78.6; Whitley, 77.6; and Mercer, 76.9.

Kentucky reported 2,380 new cases of the coronavirus Wednesday, lowering the seven-day rolling average by 45, to 2,009. Nearly 29% of Wednesday’s new cases were in people 18 and younger.

The state’s Covid-19 numbers in hospitals did not improve Wednesday, unlike most recent days. Hospitals reported 1,365 Covid-19 patients, up 36 from Tuesday and the biggest daily increase since Sept. 14; 398 in intensive care, the same as Tuesday; and 275 of them on mechanical ventilation, up 13.

Seven of the state’s 10 hospital regions are using 80% of their intensive-care-unit beds. Northern Kentucky remains at 100% capacity, with 32.9% of its ICU capacity being used for Covid-19 patients. In the Lake Cumberland region, 95% of ICU beds are in use, 38% for Covid. In the region that includes Owensboro, Hopkinsville and Henderson, 82% of ICU beds are in use, 48% for Covid, highest in the state.

The state reported that 26 more Kentuckians has died from Covid-19, raising the death toll to 9,210.

Kentucky has administered at least one dose of a vaccine to 2.76 million residents, covering 72.6% of the eligible population, 12 and older, according to The Washington Post.

Recently, the CDC issued an “urgent health advisory” to urge pregnant women to get vaccinated. Alex Acquisto of the Lexington Herald-Leader takes a deep dive into the health risk facing unvaccinated pregnant women in Kentucky and reports that severe Covid-19 among unvaccinated pregnant women is causing more premature births in Kentucky. “Five obstetricians and perinatologists at clinics and hospitals in Lexington have noticed a troubling increase,” Acquisto reports.

As the nation awaits the decisions of a U.S. Food and Drug Administration advisory panel that is to meet this week on whether there is a need for a Moderna or Johnson & Johnson vaccine booster, data emerged Wednesday saying that while recipients of the J&J vaccine may benefit from a second dose of the original one-dose vaccine, they may get even greater protection if the boost comes from the other type of vaccine, Carolyn Y. Johnson reports for the Post.

“That preprint study found that a second shot of a messenger RNA vaccine — Moderna — triggered the biggest boost of virus-neutralizing antibodies in Johnson & Johnson recipients, resulting in a 76-fold increase in antibody levels,” Johnson reports. “A Pfizer booster increased antibody levels 35-fold. A matching Johnson & Johnson booster triggered only a four-fold increase.”