Community Health

Jefferson County health officials are reporting the county has moved up to the yellow, or medium, category for COVID-19 infections, after weeks of being at the lowest level of spread. 

According to a news release, there were 1,771 new cases reported last week. 

The color-coded system uses the community level model put forth by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention earlier this year. 

That model calculates infection spread by tracking the number of new cases in each county, percent of hospital capacity devoted to COVID patients, and the number of new patients admitted within the past week.

Jefferson County’s incidence rate is now 33 average daily cases per 100,000 residents, which puts it in the red category for that metric. 

New COVID hospital admissions per 100,000 population is 3.45%.

“With cases increasing, if you are eligible, now is the time to get that second booster dose,” Dr. Sarah Moyer, director of Louisville Metro Department of Public Health and Wellness said in a statement. “Getting boosted provides an extra layer of protection in this current wave of COVID-19 and prevents people from becoming severely infected and hospitalized.”

The department also held a news conference Tuesday to update the public on the rise in cases; it’s the first they’ve held in two months. 

Moyer said during the news conference that wastewater samples are also showing higher levels of COVID in the community, close to the highs during the omicron surge in winter. 

But health officials are working to determine whether those levels may have been affected by Derby events and crowds.

Moyer also said it’s a much different situation now, with many more people vaccinated or who have had the virus and therefore have more antibodies to fight additional infection. Also hospital numbers, while on the rise, are still relatively low, although Moyer expects that to increase in the coming weeks.

According to guidance on the Kentucky Department for Public Health website, residents and institutions in counties in the yellow should consider universal masking in indoor congregate settings. High-risk people should consider wearing a well fitting mask in all indoor settings. 

In all categories, people are urged to stay up to date with vaccinations, stay home when sick, get tested if they’re exposed or have COVID symptoms and talk to their health care providers about preventive treatments. 

Moyer urged people to continue to get vaccinated and boosted. 

“That’s the big message: With the cases increasing, we really want to make sure that everyone is getting vaccinated and then their booster and their second booster if they’re eligible,” she said. 

That’s anyone over the age of 65, those over 50 with chronic medical conditions or those over 12 who are moderately to severely immunocompromised.

On masking, Moyer recommends anyone in those high risk categories to wear masks. 

“If you are in one of those categories that are high risk, wearing it, even if you’re the only one in the room wearing it, still provides a lot of great protection,” she said. 

For those less at risk who may have symptoms like a cold or flu if they get COVID, “It’s risk/benefit to them whether they like to be out of work and out of activities and feeling bad versus wearing it.”

For information on testing in Jefferson County, visit Louisville Metro’s related webpage.

Aprile Rickert is WFPL's health reporter.