The last time there was such a sharp increase in local coronavirus cases was July 2020.
In the two weeks ending on July 23, the seven-day average of new COVID-19 cases in Christian County increased 282%. Prior to this month, which has seen a sharp increase in cases of the virus, the county hasn’t seen such such an upsurge since July 20, 2020, when there was an increase of 350% over the previous two weeks.
A report Friday from the Christian County Health Department confirmed 65 new cases of the virus — up from 37 last week — and the first COVID-19 death in more than two months.
“Increases across the state are often within communities with lower vaccination rates,” Christian County Health Department spokeswoman Amanda Sweeney Brunt said in a news release Friday morning. “If you haven’t already, we strongly encourage our community members to get vaccinated and help prevent the spread of COVID-19. The health department continues to offer free Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccinations every Thursday from 7:30 a.m. – 4 p.m. Walk-ins are welcome.”
As of Friday, 7,267 Christian County residents had tested positive for the virus since the pandemic began — more than one in every 10.
The most recent report marked the ninth weekly release of COVID-19 information by local health officials since they announced they would stop giving daily updates.
Christian County has confirmed 3 cases or the Delta variant, but it’s likely the number is much higher.
Three cases of the COVID-19 Delta variant had been confirmed in Christian County as of Wednesday, according to a report provided to Hoptown Chronicle by the Kentucky Department for Public Health.
The variant is likely the source of a much larger number of infections locally, government and public health officials warn.
According to the most recent estimates from the Centers from Disease Control and Prevention, the highly contagious Delta variant — previously known as B.1.617.2 — accounts for more than 83% of new COVID-19 cases nationwide.
The variant is “currently surging in areas of the United States with low vaccination rates,” CDC Director Rochelle P. Walensky said during a recent White House briefing. It’s a point of concern for Christian County, where just 22.47% of the population was vaccinated as of Friday.
In Kentucky, like other states, sequencing of confirmed COVID-19 cases is done only occasionally and is oftentimes reported on a significant delay.
“Molecular sequencing of the SARS-CoV-2 virus detected from individuals with COVID-19 in Kentucky to identify variants of concern/interest is performed at the Kentucky Department for Public Health laboratory by request only,” department spokesman Brice Mitchell told Hoptown Chronicle. “This testing is prioritized for cases of COVID-19 that are of particular concern to public health, including suspected vaccine breakthrough cases, outbreak-associated cases, travel-associated cases or other cases of public health significance. Typically, results from molecular sequencing are available several weeks after the case has occurred due to normal delays in case identification, specimen transit and testing protocols.”
As the coronavirus mutation escalates in Kentucky and elsewhere, Gov. Andy Beshear on Monday urged unvaccinated Kentuckians and vaccinated residents with heavy exposure to the public to wear a mask when not in their home.
Counties across the state, including several in western Kentucky, have returned to the ‘red zone.’
At 13.2, the local incidence rate returned to the orange “accelerated” zone of transmission — a category that it hasn’t been included in since May 5.
Two neighboring counties — Hopkins and Muhlenberg — were among just 13 communities in the state that received the red “critical” designation for transmission. Nearby Webster County also was among the red zone counties, which includes counties with 25 or more new cases per 100,000 residents. It’s a label Christian County has avoided since February.
On Thursday, Beshear issued several recommendations for such counties, including postponement of large public events. He also said he hasn’t ruled out re-imposing restrictions, noting his decision would be basked on the number of hospitalizations and how sick individuals are, as well as the percentage of breakthrough cases among vaccinated people.