Health

Louisville public health experts are warning residents to avoid spreading COVID-19 at Kentucky Derby festivities or Labor Day Weekend gatherings, after seeing a spike in cases following the July 4th holiday.

Ahead of the July 4th weekend, bars opened, restaurants expanded capacity and in general, people became less diligent about following precautions, Mayor Greg Fischer said.

Data from the Louisville Metro Department of Health and Wellness indicated people’s behavior over the holiday contributed to the spread of the virus, he said.

“A lot of people took trips over July fourth and they brought virus back. They had house parties and other gatherings and wound up spreading the virus to their family and friends,” Fischer said.

Louisville has seen 13,569 cases of COVID-19 and 301 deaths related to the virus as of Thursday. Fischer said cases declined the last couple of weeks. However, the positivity rate is at 9.92% — well above the 5% public health experts’ recommend to control the spread of the virus.

On Thursday, the city added 722 cases and 9 new deaths. Fischer and Chief Health Strategist Dr. Sarah Moyer say the numbers are higher than normal because of a backlog of cases that are just now entering the city’s system. Only 209 cases are new, Fischer said.

“And so what we’re seeing is that patients that weren’t originally counted as Jefferson County in the original flow of data to our dashboard are being moved in,” Moyer said. “I think there are about 500 cases that are being added.”

Moyer said the additional cases have not changed the trajectory of the virus because the cases were spaced out over the month of May.

Fischer and city health officials want to avoid a repeat of the spike seen in July and are encouraging locals to follow the state guidelines limiting gatherings to groups of 10 people or fewer on Derby Day and over the long Labor Day weekend.

For people who still intend to hold gatherings, Louisville Environmental Health Manager Nick Hart recommends only inviting people you know, ask them to screen their health before coming over, arrange activities to keep people apart, stay outside as much as possible and don’t share food.

Ryan Van Velzer is WFPL's Energy and Environment Reporter.