Coronavirus

Health officials in Jefferson County say around 3% of the county’s population has tested positive for COVID-19 in the first 11 days of the year. 

But wastewater collection sites around the county show a COVID infection rate twice as high. 

Dr. Sarah Moyer, director at the Louisville Metro Department of Public Health and Wellness, says that means about one in 15 residents is likely positive – and many of them may be unaware. 

“One in 15 should be in isolation,” she said. “Right now we know that that’s not happening. So just assume that one in 15 people you see out – if you’re out in public – has COVID, which is why that mask and those spacing and limiting your interactions with people is so important.”

More than 20,000 new cases have been identified since the start of the year – over 16,000 of those were in the past week. 

This has brought Jefferson County’s incidence rate to over 303 cases per 100,000 residents. That’s around 12 times the minimum considered in the red zone according to the Kentucky Department for Public Health. 

Testing has ramped up in the area, with the addition Monday of the six-lane testing site at Churchill Downs in Louisville. On that first day, they saw more than 1,200 people, but can test up to 5,000 per day. 

The site is open from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday. 

Dr. SarahBeth Hartlage with the Louisville Metro Department of Public Health and Wellness said there were more than 100 cars in line Monday when the site opened, and that people were getting through in about 35 to 45 minutes. 

Hospitalizations have reached a new record high, with 413 COVID-19 patients in hospitals across the county. This includes 77 people in the ICU and 60 children at Norton Children’s hospital. 

Hartlage said continued vaccinations and boosters can help prevent the hospitals from being overwhelmed. Those age 12 and up are now eligible for booster shots. 

“While we have seen some breakthrough cases and we have seen people who have had severe infection, those who are unvaccinated represent over 80% of the hospitalized patients or the deaths,” she said.

The health department reported that those counted in the hospital numbers comprise three types: direct admissions, or people going to the hospital specifically because of COVID symptoms; indirect admissions, who are people with underlying conditions made worse by having COVID; and people who are admitted for something else, like a car crash, and subsequently test positive for COVID. 

Health officials in Tuesday’s briefing did not have an exact breakdown of the types, but said they’re seeing way more of the direct and indirect admissions than incidental cases. 

The county reported a slight uptick in vaccinations, with 73% of residents having received at least their first shot and 63% fully vaccinated. Around 40% of residents have gotten a booster. 

Check here for more information on testing and vaccinations. 

 

Aprile Rickert is WFPL's health reporter.