SARS-CoV-2 May Also Have Been a Winner at the Derby!

New cases Covid-19 up sharply in May. Hospital utilization and deaths not so much –at this time.

Following the first Saturday in May, reported weekly new cases of Covid-19 are taking giant steps upwards. Jefferson County leads the state by far in new cases. Jefferson County’s current incidence rate reported on 5/24/22 was 52.1 per 100K population compared to 23.4 for the state as a whole. Although the test positivity ratio had been creeping up for several weeks before, it is impossible to ignore the likelihood that Kentucky Derby activities fueled a smoldering fire.

Current hospital and ICU utilization, or deaths have not yet followed in the same direction. Hopefully because of our at least partial degree of vaccine protection and personal choices made by many, these adverse outcomes will not rise as much. In my view, the CDC’s “Community Levels by County” graphic of 5/20/22 that accompanied Monday’s state report is two weeks out of date and 1000 miles distant in the rear view mirror. It does not inform me personally in any meaningful way and seems to understate what is happening locally where meaningful response can be focused. Covid-19 is blossoming worldwide and in the United States in large measure from spread of the Omicron Jr. variants and spotty use of public health precautions. Why would it not get worse here as well?

I was out of the country the first weeks of this month. That is a story as yet untold. We need to maintain a healthy respect for the degree of personal, social, and economic disruption that this pandemic is capable of delivering. The massive movement of huge numbers of people around a troubled globe will surely affect us in our Commonhealth. Even as I write this, new infectious agents or presumed infectious agent syndromes are becoming apparent. Monkeypox, the polio-like syndrome of infantile flaccid paralysis, and acute severe hepatitis in children are examples of illnesses that an already busy public health system must investigate and confront. Old standard childhood and adult infections diseases are blossoming as well as vaccination programs and routine medical care have been disrupted.

At times like these I can only dream of a coordinated national health system under whatever name or structure one wishes to give it. Otherwise, we will continue to be dollar short and more than a day late.

Peter Hasselbacher, MD
Emeritus Professor of Medicine, UofL
May 26, 2022

[Addendum 5/27/22: Reading in today’s Courier-Journal about the commercial impact of the two massive local concerts this holiday weekend, a further “booster” to new cases would not be unexpected!]

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