New reported weekly cases of Covid-19 continue to increase sharply. Yesterday’s new case count of 13,947 is the highest yet since the new less-aggressive case reporting system was put into place in early March and is nearly double the number of two weeks before. This much lower than the January Omicron peak of some 80,000 weekly or the Delta peak last fall of 30,000. However, the number of new cases reported currently is undoubtedly a considerable undercount due to changes in case identification and reporting protocols.
The current increase in Kentucky cases appears to be having an impact on hospital census and the serious outcomes of ICU and ventilator use. These latter two indicators have been increasing for the past 4 weeks and are currently higher than they were in early April. We expect the need for hospital services to follow case counts to some degree in a delayed manner. Certainly it is no longer possible to say that deaths are decreasing! Since deaths occur mostly after patients spend some time in hospitals, increasing deaths over the next weeks would not be a surprise.
The current test positivity rate is still high at 12.1% but hopefully is stabilizing. The reported overall incidence rate has also remained mostly stable but is currently calculated at 24.4 average daily cases per 100,000 population. Since individual counties with an incidence rate greater than 25 are considered to be in the red “high” category, this current statewide rate seems scary to me. The state has not as of this writing published its statewide county incidence map. Inspection of yesterday’s published table of individual county incidence rates reveals that 34 Kentucky counties are in the “red” with another 75 in the “substantial” range. There are no individual counties in the green “low” rate category. This is in distinct contrast to the CDCs Community Levels map of June 10 as reproduced on Kentucky’s website which shows the large majority of counties to be in the “green” with only 19 counties in the red “high” range. (I confess that the Community Levels maps remain of uncertain if not unknown utility to me!)
There is not much more I can think of to add today. We may be tired of the Coronavirus, but the virus and its progeny are not yet done with us. I do not have access to sophisticated artificial intelligence software to model our Covid-19 future, but my educated guess is that things are going to continue to worsen before they get better. I hope to be wrong.
Peter Hasselbacher, MD
Emeritus Professor of Medicine, UofL
Thursday Afternoon, June 14, 2022