A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Ky. shows little progress in latest health rankings; we’re getting less exercise, diabetes has increased

By Melissa Patrick Kentucky Health News Kentucky again ranks near the bottom in two big health measures: 48th for health behaviors and 46th for health outcomes, according to the America’s Health Rankings report from the United Health Foundation. Most of the reasons are familiar, such as a high percentage of Kentuckians with more than one chronic condition — such as diabetes, which has become...

Only 145 cases of flu confirmed in Kentucky, but experts say it’s too early to call the season mild

By Melissa Patrick Kentucky Health News Kentucky has confirmed one-sixth as many flu cases this season as at this time last season, but the state’s top doctor says it’s too soon to read much into that. “It is too early to celebrate a mild influenza season in Kentucky,” Health Commissioner Steven Stack in an e-mail. “The onset of peak influenza season varies from year to year, and...

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...

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...

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,...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

Many Kentucky counties lack syringe exchanges; includes 20 most vulnerable to disease outbreaks

By Melissa Patrick Kentucky Health News Most Kentucky counties now have harm-reduction programs to fight drug abuse, but the coronavirus pandemic has slowed their expansion and complicated the work of their syringe exchanges. Still, they’ve all continued to offer some level of service during the pandemic. Sixty-three counties have harm-reduction programs, and one more is in the works, but that...

As you spend more time outdoors with summer in full swing, remember the ticks; they’re a big problem

By Melissa Patrick Kentucky Health News As outdoor venues in Kentucky have opened up after months of being closed due to the coronavirus, more Kentuckians than ever are heading outdoors. And picking up ticks. Experts caution that it’s important to take precautions through September, when ticks are still active, and to learn how to remove them properly to decrease the risk of tick-borne disease. Jonathan...