A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

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,...

Local health departments have become pandemic’s main flak catchers, especially of social media

Local health departments, often underfunded, have been critical during the pandemic in may ways, one as an information source for the public, journalists, and state and federal agencies. “But as the virus has become more politicized and fringe theories are fanned, including by President Donald Trump, many in public health are finding themselves bumping up against a new, time-consuming demand: correcting...

Virus death rate five times higher in prison than state as a whole; higher when adjusted for age, sex, race

By Melissa Patrick Kentucky Health News Kentucky prisons have the third highest covid-19 death rate compared to death rates for the disease among the state’s whole population, even after rates are adjusted for the sex, age, race and ethnicity of inmates, says a study from the National Commission on Covid-19 and Criminal Justice. As of mid-August, the report found Kentucky’s prisons’...

White House report shows big increase in ‘red zone’ counties, death rate in Ky.; state ranks 19th in nation

By Mary Meehan Kentucky Health News More than half of Kentucky’s counties are in COVID-19 danger zones defined by the White House Coronavirus Task Force, and there were big increases last week in the state’s COVID-19 death rate and the number of counties in the task force’s “red zone.” The task force’s weekly report showed that the high-risk areas span both urban and rural communities....

Study finds e-cigarette use can lead to ‘substantially increased risk’ of COVID-19 for teens, young adults

By Melissa Patrick Kentucky Health News Electronic cigarettes are linked to a “substantially increased risk” of COVID-19 among teens and young adults, a new study says. “This study tells us pretty clearly that youth who are using vapes or are dual-using [e-cigarettes and cigarettes] are at elevated risk, and it’s not just a small increase in risk; it’s a big one,” the lead researcher,...

Kentucky Health News: Tips for Safe outdoor, social gatherings during this pandemic-impacted holiday

As last days of summer and the Labor Day holiday approach and pandemic continues — here are tips for safe outdoot and social gatherings: First, remember that any such gathering needs to be small. Gov. Andy Beshear issued an executive order that only allows for gatherings of 10 or fewer people.  The order also calls for such gatherings to adhere to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention...

Nursing homes ‘need help’ from state; residents account for 58.6 percent of Kentucky’s COVID deaths

By Melissa Patrick Kentucky Health News As they remain the main sites for deadly infections of the novel coronavirus, Kentucky’s nursing homes are asking for more help from the state, which says much of the help they seek has already been provided or can’t be rendered. At a legislative committee meeting Aug. 26, the head of Kentucky’s main nursing-home association said nursing homes...

Virus has spread too much for contact tracing to contain, but tracing can help if people cooperate

By Lisa Gillespie Kentucky Health News In wide swaths of Kentucky, tracing the contacts of people with the coronavirus is no longer preventing its spread, because the spread has become too wide. Instead, it is, at best, slowing the disease rate. And many people don’t cooperate with the contact-tracing process. That’s according to several local health department officials, including Roanya...

CDC publishes article on Kentucky monitoring system to guide decisions in reopening and response

By Melissa Patrick Kentucky Health News As health departments across the nation help states safely reopen their economies and schools, the monitoring system Kentucky officials use to guide their decisions has been lauded in a recent federal report as an example for other states to follow. The report, published in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly...

Syringe exchange programs could decrease IV drug-use infections, result in ‘big money saved’

By Melissa Patrick Kentucky Health News A new analysis of Medicaid claims data suggests that Kentucky counties with syringe-service programs have slightly lower rates of diseases associated with intravenous drug use, such as HIV and hepatitis C. The analysis estimated a progressive reduction of 0.5 percent per month, adding up to a 6 percent increase over a year. That can add up to savings, not only...

Kentucky Health News: Tips for safe outdoor, social gatherings during this pandemic-impacted holiday

As last days of summer approach and pandemic continues — here are tips for safe outdoot and social gatherings: First, remember that any such gathering needs to be small. Gov. Andy Beshear issued an executive order on July 20 that only allows for gatherings of 10 or fewer people.  The order also calls for such gatherings to adhere to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance to...

White House virus task force puts more than half of Kentucky counties in ‘red’ or ‘yellow’ danger zone

By Melissa Patrick Kentucky Health News The latest weekly White House Coronavirus Task Force report on Kentucky showed an increase in both red and yellow zones last week, with the number of counties in the red zone increasing by 54 percent. Twenty counties, up from 13, were in the task force’s “red zone” for places where new cases of the virus numbered more than 1 per 1,000 residents...

Hopkinsville journalist surprised to test positive for COVID-19, because she had been very careful

The coronavirus pandemic hit unexpectedly close to home recently for Jennifer P. Brown, founder and editor of digital startup The Hoptown Chronicle in Hopkinsville. Brown, former editor of Hopkinsville’s daily newspaper, the Kentucky New Era, writes that she tested positive for COVID-19 in July despite taking every precaution: “I was motivated to avoid an illness that could put me in the...

Kentucky health chief tells businesses that masks are key; lawyer tells how to enforce mandate

By Melissa Patrick Kentucky Health News The state’s top physician often says that basic public-health measures – like washing our hands, staying six feet apart and wearing a mask – are all we have right now to thwart the spread of the novel coronavirus until we get a vaccine. But masks are the most important, he indicated Friday. “That single measure is felt to be really a linchpin...

Latest White House COVID-19 report shows fewer Kentucky counties in danger zones this week

By Al Cross Kentucky Health News Kentucky got a better report this week from the White House Coronavirus Task Force. It has two more counties are in the task force’s “red zone” — for places with more than 100 new cases per 100,000 people, and a positive rate of at least 10 percent in tests for the virus — but a lot fewer in its “yellow zone,” for those with 10 to 100...