Louisville COVID-19 cases reached a new high last week with 3,627 new diagnoses.
The city broke its previous weekly record despite testing opportunities being limited due to Thanksgiving weekend, said Chief Health Strategist Dr. Sarah Moyer. She’s worried that holiday gatherings will lead to an even larger spike in cases.
“I’m very concerned that over the next two weeks, we’re going to see some unprecedented spread,” Moyer said. “Remember that the risks that we take today show up as positive cases and hospital admissions 10 days to two weeks from now.”
At a Tuesday briefing, Mayor Greg Fischer expressed optimism about the potential deployment of a vaccine in the coming weeks. But more must be done to slow the “alarming” rise in infection rates in the meantime, he said.
“The bottom line is that too many people are helping the virus out,” Fischer said. “By that, I mean having too much unprotected contact with other folks that are spreading the virus. The virus obviously loves that.”
The number of ICU patients has quadrupled, and ventilator usage has tripled since Oct. 1, Fischer said. Nearly 100 Louisvillians are in the ICU, while 55 are on ventilators.
Moyer said 10% of hospital patients were there for COVID-19 a month ago. That figure has since jumped to 22.8%.
“Hospitals are already feeling the strain, so let’s all do what we can do to make sure we have health care workers there when we need it, whether it’s for COVID or any other emergency,” she said.
Settings that led to the highest spread in recent weeks include schools, retail, bars, restaurants, grocery stores and traveling. Churches, gyms, sports and personal care were the next most common settings, Moyer said.
Fischer said people must follow restrictions issued by Gov. Andy Beshear to save more lives and get the economy back on track.
“I recognize that these restrictions are causing a lot of difficulty and inconvenience in the city,” he said. “They’re in place for one reason – to save your life, reduce suffering, save lives of people you love and reduce suffering of those that you love.”
Beshear’s restrictions are set to expire Dec. 13. Some Louisville restaurants have announced plans to reopen on Dec. 14 regardless of any potential extension to the orders.
Moyer said if more people follow the orders for the next two weeks, the restrictions could be lifted. But the city is prepared to take action against businesses that choose to ignore them.
“Hopefully, the numbers will be down and that won’t be a controversy on Dec. 14,” she said. “If it is still a restriction, we’ll be following state guidance on that, and they are at risk of losing their food license if they choose to not follow the executive order.”
Moyer also reported 30 new deaths last week. She cited a recent study that showed 900 lives could be saved by January if restrictions are followed.