Jefferson County officials say the recent spike in COVID-19 cases is still due to the highly transmissible delta variant, but say they’re staying vigilant for signs of the new omicron strain.
There were 2,211 new cases reported in the county last week – nearly double the previous week’s report. Hospitalizations are also up; about 11% of all hospitalizations in the county are COVID-related.
“Obviously, COVID is not done with us by any stretch of the imagination,” Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer said during a weekly briefing Tuesday. He said even without omicron in the area, coronavirus rates are increasing “at an alarming rate.”
The county’s positivity rate is now at 9.24%, with an incidence rate of 41 new cases per 100,000 residents. That’s 16 percentage points above the threshold for the county to be considered in the red zone for spread of the disease.
And although vaccinations have gone up – 72% of Kentucky adults have received at least their first dose and 65% are fully vaccinated– Fischer said the rate is too slow. The mayor continued to urge more people to get vaccinated and boosted.
“Each vaccine type available to us has now been administered to hundreds of millions of people over nearly a year and the data is very clear regarding the science,” he said. “They’re very safe and highly effective at stopping serious illness.”
Fischer’s comments mirrored what Gov. Andy Beshear reported Monday – that the rise in cases is due in part to the waning of initial vaccinations, as well as people going in public and attending social gatherings at an almost pre-pandemic level.
Fischer was joined Tuesday by Drs. Sarah Moyer, SaraBeth Hartlage and Mark Burns with the Louisville Metro Department of Public Health and Wellness.
The team said that there continues to be evidence that initial vaccines and boosters help reduce serious illness. As of Monday, 81.5% of the overall cases since March 2020 have been in unvaccinated people.
The team said breakthrough cases are much more likely to happen to older adults or people with serious underlying health issues.
Jefferson County also has seen a sharp rise in flu cases, after a record low last year as more people stayed home mid-pandemic.
There were 184 confirmed flu cases statewide and 19 in Jefferson County for the 2020-2021 season, which ended in May. This year, there are already 58 confirmed in Jefferson County and 98 in Kentucky. There were 8,000 reported for the 2019-2020 season.