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Kentucky in White House task force’s worst zone for coronavirus as cases continue rising in past week

By Melissa Patrick
Kentucky Health News

Again, Kentucky is in the worst danger zone for its coronavirus case numbers, with the 18th-highest rate in the country, according to this week’s White House Coronavirus Task Force report.

Being in the White House red zone for cases means the state has 101 or more new cases per 100,000 residents. Kentucky’s cases have been increasing for weeks.

The state had 257 new cases per 100,000 in the latest report, which covers Oct. 24-30. That was up from 185 per 100,000 the prior week, and 158 the week before. The national average is 165 per 100,000.

(Click for larger image)

The report puts 91 of the state’s 120 counties into one of the danger zones, down from 93 the previous week. Eight fewer counties, a total of 61, were in the top two danger zones.

The number of counties in the red zone decreased from 47 to 44; the orange zone decreased from 22 to 17; and the yellow zone grew from 24 to 30.

The report says 76 percent of Kentucky counties had a moderate or high level of community transmission, with 37 percent of them having high levels.

Gov. Andy Beshear noted that the task force’s recommendations to thwart the spread of the virus line up with the steps Kentucky has taken.

“Its recommendations more than ever tell us that we are on the right track and that this White House supports the steps we’re taking here in the commonwealth,” he said. “That means that we have bipartisan agreement, state and federal as well, with all the health experts pointing to the same things, saying that if we can come together, especially with our red zone recommendations and everything that goes into it, that the White House believes that is our best chance to succeed.”

For example, the White House recommendations call for high-visibility, color-coded community action plans; limiting restaurant indoor capacity to less than 50 percent, and restricting hours until cases and the test positivity rate decrease; and asking people to forgo social gatherings beyond their immediate household. It also recommends that people always wear a mask in public, including teachers and students in K-12 schools.

The report also calls on the state to focus its efforts on finding asymptomatic sources of spread and to prioritize the use of the the Abbott Laboratories BinaxNOW diagnostic test, which is a rapid, point-of-care test, which has been provided by the federal government to determine trend data on where the virus is and as a way to direct mitigation, with a need to use a more accurate lab test confirm any positive test in low-positivity areas. Beshear has said the state has directed most of these tests to congregate settings, such as schools, prisons and nursing homes.

The Food and Drug Administration issued an alert Nov. 3 warning that the rapid antigen tests, like the ones provided by the federal government, can produce incorrect positive results. The alert says problems are more likely in populations with low prevalence of infection, or when the test is improperly performed.

The White House report put the state in the federal orange zone for the percentage of residents testing positive for the virus, indicating a rate between 8 percent and 10 percent, with the 19th highest rate in the country. The state uses a different data stream than the White House that produces lower rates. On Wednesday, Beshear said the rate was 6.3 percent.

The report says, “There is a continued increase in cases, hospitalizations, and fatalities nationally, spreading southward from the coldest climates as the population moves indoors and cases increase exponentially.”

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One Comment

  1. Mark Nolan says:

    Although this article is dated November 7, the chart is based on data from October 28, and is badly out of date. As of November 8, there is one yellow county, and the other 119 are orange or red,, a majority of the red. Given the COVID surge across the nation, and in KY, up to date information is critical.

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