Health

Louisville health officials said Tuesday that coronavirus spread is continuing to trend down in the city.

Metro chief health strategist Dr. Sarah Moyer reported 1,527 COVID-19 cases last week. It’s the sixth week in a row with a decreasing number of cases, mirroring a statewide decline in spread.

“I don’t know if it’s the sunshine outside or more and more people getting vaccinated, but I’m starting to really feel the hope that is out there,” Moyer said.

Jefferson County’s incidence rate is now 28.4 cases per 100,000 people. If that figure dips below 25, the county will drop into the orange zone after spending several weeks in the red, which indicates high spread.

Moyer announced 18 newly reported deaths last week.

“While that number is smaller than we’ve had in many weeks, we did reach a big milestone yesterday with 500,000 deaths across the United States,” she said. “[It’s a] huge loss this last year, but [I’m] very hopeful it’s starting to decrease.”

Mayor Greg Fischer said he’s hopeful vaccinations will increase in the coming weeks. Recent wintry weather caused delays in vaccination schedules, but the health department and local health care systems are working extra hours to catch up.

On Saturday, more than 1,000 doses were administered at the LouVax vaccination site at Broadbent Arena. More than 100,000 people in Jefferson County, or about 13% of the population, have now received at least a first dose of the vaccine.

“We have hope and optimism at this point where we’re at with COVID-19 right now,” Fischer said. “But we have learned throughout this journey that you always stay humble to the virus.”

As more vaccine doses become available, Moyer said those in phase 1c will be able to register for a shot. She said priority will continue to go to those 70 and older.

Gov. Andy Beshear announced Monday that the state will begin 1c scheduling on March 1. Moyer said she hopes the county can catch up in time to match that plan.

“We have a few more weeks of 70 and older scheduled,” she said. “As soon as we get everyone off the waitlist and into an appointment, we plan to start that 1c announcement.”

When 1c vaccinations start, priority will go to those 60 and older. There are about 100,000 people between the ages of 60 and 70 locally.

During the initial vaccine rollout, efforts to vaccinate the elderly population focused on assisted-living facilities and nursing homes. People living in non-medical senior living communities were missed.

Norton Healthcare, University of Louisville Health and Walgreens recently launched a program to vaccinate that population. The health systems will identify communities that haven’t received the vaccine and administer doses on site.

John Boyle covers southern Indiana communities and health for WFPL News. He is a Report for America Corps member.