A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

In south-central Ky., health workers and officials battle coronavirus fatigue, politicization of pandemic

Health officials are working “to convince a skeptical public in south-central Kentucky of the risk of catching the deadly virus racing through the region, taking lives and putting an ever-growing number of people in the hospital,” Deborah Yetter of the Louisville Courier Journal reports after a trip to Glasgow, Tompkinsville and Bowling Green. Courtney Calloway’s co-workers gave her...

Planning a Thanksgiving gathering? Here are questions to ask, and expert advice about testing

Photo by Getty Images via Kentucky Health News. Because just about everything that involves a traditional Thanksgiving meal creates a perfect storm to spread the virus that causes COVID-19, health experts are encouraging people to scale back holiday gatherings to just those in their immediate household, or to practice what epidemiologists call “harm reduction” if they choose to gather. That...

Center for Smoke-free Policy recognizes individuals, organizations that create smoke-free communities

The Kentucky Center for Smoke-free Policy honored communities, groups and individuals from across the state who are making progress in creating healthier, smoke-free communities. The awards were presented Nov. 10 at a virtual award ceremony. “Kentucky has had an amazing year as we now have 38 communities with comprehensive smoke-free workplace laws, covering 36.2 percent of Kentuckians,” said...

Economists say random testing required to know true cornavirus impact; examples indicate lower mortality

By Melissa Patrick Kentucky Health News The best way to determine the true impact of the novel coronavirus in Kentucky would be to do random testing of the population, instead of the current approach that only gathers test information from people who choose to get tested, according to a paper commissioned by the Institute for the Study of Free Enterprise at the University of Kentucky. “To accurately...

Christian Co. health director goes behind daily data to tell covid-19 “stories to pull at your heart strings”

The front-line fighters against the coronavirus are employees of local health departments, who find their jobs increasingly difficult. People exposed to the virus won’t self-quarantine, or won’t answer the phone if they think the call is from a contact tracer at the health department. And as the pandemic accelerates, health-department employees lose more of their friends and relatives to...

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...

Experts say COVID-19 vaccine will come with challenges and cautions after distribution

By Melissa Patrick Kentucky Health News Even after a vaccine is approved for the novel coronavirus and is widely distributed, it will still be important to follow public-health recommendations to thwart the spread of the virus, including basic hand hygiene, social distancing and wearing a mask. That’s partly because the vaccine only has to be 50 percent effective at preventing COVID-19, and the...

Panel says colorectal cancer screenings should begin at 45, following cancer society guidelines

By Melissa Patrick Kentucky Health News A federal task force now recommends that adults with a normal risk for colorectal cancer get their first screening at age 45, instead of 50, as the American Cancer Society has recommended since 2018. Kentucky already requires health insurance plans to start screening for colorectal cancer at 45, and pay for it without any patient cost sharing, under legislation...

Two-thirds of Kentuckians approve of Beshear’s COVID-19 efforts, 60 percent support mask mandate

By Al Cross Kentucky Health News Kentuckians polled Oct. 7-15 gave Gov. Andy Beshear good grades for handling the coronavirus pandemic and supported the idea of state law to require wearing of masks in public. (Graph from Spectrum Networks) The poll, and released Oct. 21, found that 37 percent of Kentucky adults strongly approved Beshear’s handling of the crisis, with another 28 percent saying they...

Nurse task force says every Kentucky school needs full-time nurse, requests $3 million from lawmakers

By Melissa Patrick Kentucky Health News “Every school needs a nurse every day, all day.” So says the Kentucky Nurses Association School Nurse Task Force, which has worked for this goal for more than five years. It says only 43 percent of Kentucky schools meet the National Association of School Nurses recommendation for a minimum of one nurse for every 750 students. On Oct. 20, the task...

White House reports 70 percent of Kentucky counties at moderate or high level of virus spread

By Melissa Patrick
 Kentucky Health News The latest report from the White House Coronavirus Task Force again has Kentucky in the task force’s worst danger zone for number of cases, with 12 more counties being put in that zone than the previous week. “Kentucky is in the red zone for cases, indicating 101 or more new cases per 100,000 population last week, with the 21st highest rate...

State issues plan for distributing COVID-19 vaccine; Anderson County residents hesitant

By Melissa Patrick Kentucky Health News The Kentucky Department for Public Health has issued its draft plan for distributing a COVID-19 vaccine, when it becomes available, that addresses everything from who can get it first to how it must be stored. It also recognizes that “a portion of the U.S. population may hesitate to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.” To address this hesitancy, the plan...

Study: Nutrition education for low-income people in eight Southeast states results in healthier diets

By Melissa Patrick Kentucky Health News A little education goes a long way when it comes to helping people with limited budgets eat healthier and not run out of food before the end of the month. So says a study by the Public Health Institute’s Center for Wellness and Nutrition, published in the Journal of Nutritional Science. It found that residents with low incomes in eight Southeastern states,...

State hits red zone for coronavirus cases, but with fewer counties in red and yellow than previous week

The latest report from the White House Coronavirus Task Force puts Kentucky in the task force’s worst danger zone for number of cases, but has fewer counties in that zone and the two others than it did the previous week. “Kentucky is in the red zone for cases, indicating 101 or more new cases per 100,000 population last week, with the 21st-highest rate in the country,” the report...

Beshear asks coaches to put student health first, urges schools in ‘red zones’ to follow guidance

By Lisa Gillespie and Melissa Patrick Kentucky Health News With at least five Kentucky high school football games canceled due to the novel coronavirus only 11 days after the start of a delayed season, Gov. Andy Beshear said coaches are almost in a sacred position to protect the health of their student-athletes. “If I was running a high-school program, I would want my team to be getting tested on...

UK professor says Kentucky efforts at farmer suicide prevention, awareness a national model

By Melissa Patrick Kentucky Health News Kentucky farmers, like those across the nation, work tirelessly to stay afloat amid plummeting farm incomes, market instabilities, extreme weather conditions, few safety nets and now, a global pandemic. And sometimes those stressors add up, leading some to consider suicide, and others to die by it. To bring awareness to this issue, the General Assembly passed...

A Kentucky example shows how CDC’s slow, cautious approach to pandemic contributed to spread

A bombshell USA Today package details how the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention failed to effectively respond to the growing pandemic, adding to its spread across the United States — especially in small towns and rural areas. “Reporters reviewed 42,000 pages of emails and memos obtained from health departments and interviewed more than 100 community leaders and public health experts,...

Morehead hospital says COVID-19 surge came from patients who delayed treatment for other conditions

At the end of 2019, St. Claire Regional Healthcare System restructured its finances after finishing the fiscal year about $9 million in the red. In March, the novel coronavirus hit and basically brought the hospital to a standstill and forced it to make even more changes, Liz Carey reports for The Daily Yonder. Headquartered in Morehead, St. Claire provides services to eight Eastern Kentucky counties....

Kentucky lobbyist says feds send nursing homes quick-test kits, but with rules that deter their use

By Melissa Patrick Kentucky Health News Testing is one of the few tools nursing homes have to keep the novel coronavirus out of their facilities, and the Trump administration has tried to help by sending them equipment to conduct tests that give quick results. But while they were sent with good intention and are appreciated, the head of the state nursing-home association told Kentucky Health News that...

Stack goes another round with legislators, pushes back on data questions, answers queries on schools

By Al Cross Kentucky Health News Republican legislators kept up their questioning of the state’s coronavirus data last week, and the state health commissioner and Democratic lawmakers pushed back. Sen. Danny Carroll of Paducah, co-chair of the Program Review and Investigations Committee, was the leading questioner and most outspoken legislator, just as he was at the panel’s Aug. 13 meeting,...