Ky. respiratory roundup: Hospitals filling, Covid-19 map greener

Published 4:48 pm Monday, December 19, 2022

The federal risk map for Covid-19 in Kentucky got greener in the last week, but some Kentucky hospitals are filling up with increasing cases of influenza and respiratory syncytial virus.

The University of Kentucky‘s Chandler Hospital is at capacity and its Kentucky Children’s Hospital is close to full, the Lexington Herald-Leader reports, adding, “Staff at Baptist Health in Richmond have asked the public for patience amid extended wait times in the hospital’s emergency room.” The hospital’s emergency-services director said the hospital is “at or over capacity.”

The hospitals also have Covid-19 patients, though hospitalizations for the disease in Kentucky have mostly declined in recent weeks. They have risen recently among Kentuckians under 18 and those 30 to 49.

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention‘s latest map showing levels of Covid-19 risk by county has 78 green counties, indicating low risk, up from 64 last week. But the number of counties rated at high risk increased slightly, to 15 from 12 the week before and 10 the week before that.

The 15 counties are the same group of nine West Kentucky counties, from Hickman to Crittenden, that were rated high last week; Nicholas, another repeater; and Rowan, Menifee, Morgan, Elliott and Greenup. Pike and Bourbon counties, which were rated high last week, dropped to medium risk.

The map is based on new cases and hospital data.

If you live in a medium or high-risk county, the CDC advises those who are at high risk of getting very sick to wear a well-fitting mask when indoors and in public and to consider getting tested before having social contact with someone at high risk for getting very sick and consider wearing a mask when indoors when you are with them.

In other public-health news:

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’s request for a statewide grand jury investigation into the Covid-19 vaccines is “silly,” Gov. Andy Beshear said when Kentucky Health News asked about it at his weekly press briefing.

“That’s silly,” Beshear said. “And what it does is it denigrates the incredible work of those that came up with these vaccines so quickly and because of which so many of our relatives are still alive. And it denigrates the work of health care workers who have tried so hard to get everybody vaccinated.”

DeSantis announced last Tuesday that he was asking the Florida Supreme Court for a grand jury to probe alleged “crimes and wrongdoing . . . relating to the development, promotion and distribution” of the vaccines.

DeSantis said he could create a Public Health Integrity Committee and lead further surveillance around unexpected deaths that have occurred among people who were vaccinated, based on autopsy results, according to a news release.

DeSantis is leading former president Donald Trump in one poll of potential Republican 2024 candidates, and Beshear has been mentioned as a potential Democratic candidate in 2028 if he is re-elected next year. At this point, they are the two youngest governors; Beshear is about 10½ months older.

Outgoing White House medical adviser Anthony Fauci said on CNN, “I don’t have a clue” what DeSantis hopes to accomplish with a grand jury: “We have a vaccine that, unequivocally, is highly effective and safe and has saved literally millions of lives.”

He cited a new Commonwealth Fund study that concluded the vaccines collectively saved over 3.2 million American lives and averted more than 18.5 million hospitalizations in two years of the pandemic.

Beshear also praised the safety and efficacy of the vaccines, speaking of them in the singular: “The vaccine has saved millions upon millions upon millions of lives. My goodness, it is a miracle that we got it within a year. You look at all our charts on Covid and how they’re different now versus how they were before and the vaccines are a major driver. I don’t believe that Covid-19 would have morphed into a less harmful variant but for the vaccines.”

Beshear suggested that such investigations are how people make news and said, “I disagree with the governor.”

He added, “Let’s do what it takes to get this pandemic behind us and then let’s move on. Right? Aren’t we all ready? Aren’t we all ready to live our lives without Covid?”