Coronavirus Health

Jefferson County health officials reported some of the highest COVID-19 numbers since the start of the pandemic Wednesday – and they said the new omicron variant is a big driver in the quick spread. 

During a special media briefing, Dr. SaraBeth Hartlage, associate director at the Louisville Metro Department for Public Health and Wellness, said the positivity rate has nearly doubled compared to a week ago.

The rate is now at a record high of 19.49%. A week ago, it was 11.5%. And the incidence rate of over 101 new cases per 100,000 residents is also higher than ever. That’s many times higher than the rate of 25 cases per 100,000 people that would put Louisville in the “red” zone, which is the highest level of spread.

“And one important note about high positivity rate is that when it climbs very high like the 20% we’re seeing right now, what that suggests is that there are a lot of positives out there who are still not being tested,” she said. 

The 1,742 new cases reported Wednesday are more than triple the roughly 500 cases per day that had been reported in recent weeks. 

Gov. Andy Beshear also reported a steep statewide increase Wednesday, with 5,530 new cases and 21 deaths. The positivity rate is now 14.46%. 

“If you have any symptoms, just assume that you are a positive test for right now,” Hartlage said. “If you have a sore throat, respiratory symptoms like cough, shortness of breath, headache – really almost anything – if you wake up feeling poorly, the safest thing is to assume you have a positive.”

She and other health officials said that anyone who feels sick should get tested and quarantine. When around others or in public, they recommended wearing a high-filtration mask like an N95, social distancing and washing hands often. 

They also continue to urge vaccinations and boosters, which can help reduce the risk for serious illness. 

To find a testing or vaccination site, visit Louisville’s COVID-19 resource page.

This story has been edited to correct the COVID-19 positivity rate in Jefferson County; it was 19.49% Wednesday. 

Aprile Rickert is WFPL's health reporter.