As COVID Cases Increase, Kentucky Watches for Omicron

Governor Andy Beshear reported on Thursday that Kentucky’s COVID-19 positivity rate climbed above 8% this week, just a few weeks after a 5% positivity rate left many to believe Kentucky’s pandemic was plateauing.

While he did not yet have the day’s key statistics, Beshear said hospitalizations increased approximately 11% over the previous week. He also reported that total patients in intensive care units (ICUs) and breathing with a ventilator increased, but not as rapidly as hospitalizations. “It’s not done with us; we can’t be done with it,” Beshear said of COVID-19.

What the current case positivity rate means for the future of the pandemic in Kentucky is uncertain, but the governor urged calm. “I hope it is temporary, or perhaps, we’ll be at just a larger plateau,” he said.

Kentucky Department for Public Health (DPH) Commissioner Doctor Steven Stack said officials have not yet reported the new Omicron variant in Kentucky. “It is here. It will become present in communities all across the United States,” Stack explained. “It’s not a matter of if; it’s a matter of when.”

He urged people to remain calm in response to the latest variant and insisted it is another reason for Kentuckians to get vaccinated. Testing for the variant is still in the early stages, but Stack insisted that 99% of the state’s current cases are the Delta variant.

Beshear reported that health officials had administered at least one dose of the vaccine to more than 2.68 million Kentuckians ‒ 53% of all Kentuckians are fully vaccinated.

Health officials have given booster shots to 581,442 Kentuckians, 13% of the state’s eligible population. Beshear noted that more people need to sign up for the follow-up vaccine. He suggested that waning immunity may be partially to blame for the state’s increased positivity rate because many residents received their second vaccine more than six months ago.