Coronavirus Health Local News

Louisville has seen its highest COVID case count since February.

Health officials attribute the surge to the delta variant, a more transmissible version of the coronavirus. 

“We added 1,230 new cases last week. This is the highest weekly case count we’ve seen in 6 months,” said Assistant Director for the Department of Public Health and Wellness Connie Mendel at a press conference Tuesday.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the more transmissible version of COVID-19 accounted for 1% cases nationwide in May. Now it accounts for more than 82% of cases.

A few weeks ago, Louisville was in the yellow status on the city’s color coded warning map, and officials warned the city would reach orange status soon. 

Now, two weeks later, officials are predicting another escalation.

“We are currently in the orange, which is considered accelerated spread. However, we’re quickly approaching that critical spread level, red,” said Mendel.

Contact tracing shows people are reporting COVID after traveling, attending social events and visiting healthcare facilities. 

Both Mendel and Dr. Mark Burns, an infectious disease specialist, urged folks to get vaccinated and wear masks, during the press conference. 

Burns downplayed unvaccinated people’s concerns around breakthrough cases, when a person contracts COVID-19 despite being vaccinated. 

“If you look at it in proportion to the number of people vaccinated, which is 164 million people, this equates to about 0.8% of the people who are fully vaccinated that are having breakthrough cases,” said Burns.

Another concern many vaccine-hesitant people have is the lack of full FDA approval. The Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines have emergency use authorization. The vaccines went through rigorous testing, but were able to skip the longer, formal FDA process in order to get to the public faster.  

Burns stated there’s a certain window of time that has to pass before a new medicine or vaccine can be approved.

Burns also spoke to the lack of FDA approval for vaccines for children under 12. He believes that dosage is the main issue holding up that process and that the agency will sort it out by the winter.

As school goes back in session, he recommends masking, a safe distance between students and frequent hand washing, no matter vaccination status.

Health officials continually stated COVID-19 is not over, a sentiment Mayor Greg Fischer echoed. 

“One of the phrases I’ve used repeatedly is that we have got to be really humble to this virus. It’s not done with us and a lot of people think they’re done with it,” said Fischer. “It’s job is to keep coming after us and obviously it’s doing that.” 

Louisville COVID-19 dashboard provides updates on COVID-19 cases and vaccination numbers. Resources about testing and vaccinations can be found on the Louisville COVID-19 Resource Center page.

Breya Jones is the Breaking News Reporter for WFPL.