Gov. Andy Beshear reported new record-high COVID-19 case counts Monday, as the omicron variant spreads through the state.
He said during a news conference the state had 29,500 new cases last week, double the week before. It is the highest weekly total of new cases since the start of the pandemic.
There were more than 23,000 cases and 120 deaths just between Thursday and Monday.
Beshear said the highly-transmissible omicron variant accounts for about 80% of those, with the new variant expected to surpass that in the coming week.
Ge added the case count is probably much higher, as results from at-home tests aren’t recorded. He also said there is likely a lag in reports due to the New Year holiday.
“The most important thing for everyone to hear today is that omicron has not only come to the commonwealth, it has hit us harder in terms of escalation of cases than anything we have seen to date,” he said.
The governor said people who test positive should self-isolate, notify those they have been in contact with and contact their health care provider.
“When you see this jump, the biggest jump that we have seen week to week by far, it means that if you have omicron, and you don’t isolate, you will infect a ton of people,” he said.
People who are vaccinated and boosted can still catch the new strain. Beshear says they’re much less likely to have serious illness.
And though those who are unvaccinated are also less likely to develop serious illness with omicron than with the delta variant, the huge rise in cases will still mean more people hospitalized – especially those who have underlying conditions.
And the new variant affects treatment options for those who need it.
Dr. Steven Stack, with the Kentucky Department for Public Health, said Monday that Kentucky will no longer receive shipments of two monoclonal antibody treatments – REGEN-COV and Bamlanivimab and etesevimab – because federal health officials say they’re not effective in treating omicron.
The state will be rolling out the new antiviral medications from Merck and Pfizer in the coming days, but will have limited initial supplies.
Jefferson County also reported record breaking numbers Monday with an incidence rate of 189 per one 100,000 residents.