Two more Kentucky counties that border Fayette entered the red zone for high COVID-19 community levels when the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention launched its Thursday night update.
At high community levels, the CDC recommends people mask in public and especially indoors around others.
“If you are in these red counties – especially if they have been red multiple weeks in a row … you really ought to look at the guidance really carefully,” Gov. Andy Beshear warned Thursday during his regular weekly press conference in Frankfort.
Here’s what you need to know about where Kentucky stands.
Bourbon and Clark counties now at high community levels
According to the latest data from the CDC, neighboring Bourbon and Clark counties are now in the red for high COVID-19 community levels.
The metric is distinct from virus transmission and takes into account the impact on local health care systems.
See the latest map the CDC’s community levels for Kentucky below. Orange indicates high, yellow is medium and green is low.
The CDC assesses community levels of COVID-19 using the following factors:
New COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people (seven-day total)
New COVID-19 hospital admissions per 100,000 people (seven-day total)
Percent of inpatient beds occupied by COVID-19 patients (seven-day average)
Separately, community transmission of COVID-19 remains high across Kentucky.
The percent change in counties at each level of transmission is the absolute change compared to the previous seven-day period, according to the CDC.
Virus cases statewide enter plateau, KY governor says
Zooming out to a statewide view, Beshear indicated during his update Thursday there’s a lot to be encouraged about.
For starters, Kentucky is still seeing no sustained escalation of coronavirus cases, according to state data. That said, Beshear acknowledged the state does not receive the results of at-home tests, only those conducted by professionals.
Given those factors, “it does not look like we are in a continued escalation,” Beshear said.
“It looks like we are either plateaued or maybe seeing a little bit of a drop overall” in cases, he said.
Between June 21 and June 27, the latest time period for which data is available, Beshear announced 9,579 cases. As of June 27, there were 30 total new deaths.
Separately, John Hopkins University reported 11,066 new cases in the Bluegrass State during the past week and 41 new deaths.
Kentucky’s positivity rate, currently at about 13% as of June 27, also appears to be holding steady, Beshear said Thursday.
About 77% of Kentucky adults age 18 and older have received at least one shot in the coronavirus vaccine series, the governor said.
Kentucky’s hospitalization rate saw a slight uptick this week, he said, “but if you look at any point in this pandemic, this is the most moderate increase, and we don’t necessarily expect it to continue.”
The number of COVID-19 patients currently being treated in hospitals’ intensive care units, along with those who need ventilators to breathe, are at “the lowest points they have been throughout the pandemic,” Beshear said Thursday.
Where should I wear a mask in Kentucky?
Federal health guidelines recommend the following precautions based on whether you live in an area where there’s low, medium or high community levels of COVID-19:
Low: Stay up to date on all vaccinations and get tested if you have symptoms.
Medium: If you are at severe risk, consider masking or other precautions; stay up to date on all vaccinations; and get tested if you have symptoms.
High: Wear a mask indoors in public places; take additional precautions if you or someone you come in contact with are at high risk; stay up to date on all vaccinations; and get tested if you have symptoms.
Anyone experiencing symptoms or who has come in contact with someone positive should wear and mask and get tested.
Do you have a question about COVID-19 in Kentucky for our service journalism team? We’d like to hear from you. Fill out our Know Your Kentucky form or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Aaron Mudd is a service journalism reporter with the Lexington Herald-Leader based in Lexington, Kentucky. He previously worked for the Bowling Green Daily News covering K-12 and higher education. Aaron has roots in Kentucky’s Fayette, Marion and Warren counties. Support my work with a digital subscription