Daily new cases hit a two-month high

At current rate, it will be early Dec. before 70% of Kentuckians are immunized

Kentucky reported 669 new cases of the coronavirus Wednesday, the largest daily number in two months, as part of what appears to be a national surge driven by more contagious variants of the virus.

The new cases raised the average over the last seven days to 370 per day, the highest since May 30 and more than 100 above Sunday’s seven-day average.

The percentage of people testing positive for the virus over the previous seven days rose for the 19th consecutive day, to 3.81 percent. That is the highest since March 16. More Kentuckians are getting tests than in the last few weeks, as the virus spreads.

The statewide infection rate jumped to 7.77 per 100,000 residents, more than double what it was a week ago. Counties with rates more than double the statewide rate are Martin, 26.8; Hopkins, 25.3; Muhlenberg, 24.3; Carter, 24; Clay, 22.3; Woodford, 21.9; Hart, 20.3; Whitley, 18.9; Webster, 18.8; Livingston, 18.6; Laurel, 18.1; Pike, 16.8; Lewis, 16.1; and Pulaski, 16.

Woodford County’s number was driven by an outbreak from a church. County Health Director Cassie Prather told WKYT-TV that the health department is getting more calls about vaccination, including inquiries about natural immunity developed by having the virus. She said natural immunity starts to wane within three months, so vaccination is advised after that point.

Woodford County still has the state’s top vaccination rate, with 66% of its residents having received at least one dose of vaccine. Adjoining Franklin and Fayette counties are second and third, with 65% and 63%, respectively.

Ballard County, where the Ohio River flows into the Mississippi, has the lowest vaccination rate, 22%. Just above it are Christian County at 22.1% and Spencer County at 22.4%.

Just over half of Kentucky’s population has received at least one dose of vaccine. Of those eligible to be vaccinated, 12 and older, the figure is 59%.

The overall rate of 50.3% is better than any adjoining state except Illinois and Virginia. However, vaccinations in Kentucky have slowed so much that The Washington Post projects that at the current rate, it will be early December before 70% of Kentucky adults are vaccinated, later than almost any other state.

Kentucky vaccinations have slowed to a seven-day average of 5,746 per day, one of the lowest averages reported yet in the state, according to the Post, which notes, “Infections and hospitalizations have been rising in many places with low vaccination rates.”

Hospitalizations in Kentucky have been rising slowly. Kentucky hospitals reported 239 Covid-19 patients Wednesday, five fewer than Tuesday but four more than the seven-day average.

The state reported five more Covid-19 deaths, raising Kentucky’s toll to 7,276. The state is averaging about four deaths per day.