Covid-19 Infection Spreading Essentially Unimpeded in Kentucky.

Both Test Positivity Rates and Overall Incidence Rate of new infections are still expanding exponentially statewide. As quantitated by Current Incidence Rates per10K population 91 Kentucky counties are “in the red” with 118 of our 120 counties either in the “High” or “Substantial” categories. There are no green counties anymore! The most recent Test Positivity and overall Case Incidence Rates are 17.0% and 34.0% respectively. Both are dramatically higher than their nadirs in early April following the massive winter Omicron surge and continue to rise relentlessly and exponentially. Hospitalizations, ICU utilization and deaths are rising, albeit at a much lower rates.

Other data that can be extracted from this week’s report show that PCR testing is not increasing but identify an increasing proportion of new cases, currently 74% of new cases. (Clearly we are missing many more cases.) New infections in individuals 18 years old or younger remain relatively low at 14% but these still vulnerable citizens are out of school and not being tested as frequently. (This rate may go up as pre-athletic physical exams for fall sports are ramped up.)

As is happening nationally, indeed worldwide, Kentucky’s surge in cases is likely due to the B-4 viral descendant of the first Omicron strain and cases should be assumed to be grossly undercounted. In my experience, there is little evidence that the public in general is following standard public health practices to mitigate against the social, economic, and physical morbidity of the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes Covid-19 infection. The ability of state public health departments and their governments to make meaningful differences in outcomes has been critically obstructed. As a community we appear to have wished away the epidemic, but it is still with us for an unknown and unpredictable future.

In technical medical terms, I see SARS-CoV-2 running wild in Kentucky! We are in the middle of a social experiment to see what happens when we let it all hang out in a community “chickenpox party.” I do not think we will need statistics to see what happens.

Peter Hasselbacher, MD
Emeritus Professor of Medicine, UofL
14 July 2022

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