FRANKFORT – Today, Gov. Andy Beshear updated Kentuckians on the COVID-19 omicron variant and the storms affecting Western, South Central and Eastern Kentucky on New Year’s Day.
On Dec. 30, 6,441 cases were reported in Kentucky, the highest ever in a single day. The previous highest number was 5,742 cases reported Jan. 6, 2021. Today’s test positivity rate, 20.72%, is the highest ever.
“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,” said Gov. Beshear. “We have gone from the plateau to the second highest week of reported cases since the start of the pandemic.”
During the week ending Jan. 2, Kentucky reported 29,955 new COVID-19 cases and an average positivity rate of 20.38%. This is approximately twice the number of cases as were reported the week prior (15,255). This is also the second highest week of reported cases since the start of the pandemic, surpassed only by the week of Aug. 30, 2021 during the delta variant wave.
“The omicron variant is spreading rapidly. Omicron spreads so easily, it is compared to measles, the most contagious human virus on the planet,” said Dr. Steven Stack, commissioner of the Kentucky Department for Public Health (KDPH). “Hospitalization numbers are also increasing, though not yet as rapidly as cases, but health care resources are stretched very thin due to both the increased number of COVID patients in hospitals coupled with an even more strained health care workforce due to workers who are themselves out sick with COVID.”
Due to the volume of COVID-19 cases and the speed at which the omicron variant is spreading, individuals who test positive should self-isolate, notify their close contacts and contact their health care provider if symptoms worsen or if they need to seek medical care.
Vaccine Effectiveness Against Omicron Variant
Dr. Stack said overwhelmingly, people who suffer severe COVID-19 are unvaccinated. Moderna and Pfizer mRNA vaccines remain highly effective for people who are fully vaccinated and boosted, if eligible. Today, the U.S. Food and Drug and Administration authorized the COVID vaccine booster for children 12-15. The CDC is expected to meet later this week to discuss whether the agency will officially recommend the booster shots for kids ages 12 to 15.
Dr. Stack said the Merck antiviral pill is available in Kentucky for the first time today. Only 3,300 treatment courses were allocated to Kentucky, so supplies are very limited. There will be a new page on the kycovid19.ky.gov website today that shows where to find the drug at 10 initial Walgreens locations.
The Pfizer antiviral pill will arrive in Kentucky this week. Its supply is even more limited – Kentucky has only received 720 treatment courses. Because the supply is so small, it will be given to a small number of nursing home pharmacies and federally qualified health care centers in the early weeks to ensure it reaches some of the most vulnerable Kentuckians.
COVID-19 Case Information, Vaccinations Update
Number of people who have received at least one vaccine dose in Kentucky: 2,781,123
Jan. 1, Cases: 4,359
Jan. 1, Deaths: 26
Jan. 2, Cases: 2,767
Jan. 2, Deaths: 24
New Cases Today: 4,111
New Deaths: 15
Today’s Positivity Rate: 20.72%
Current Hospitalizations: 1,579
Current Intensive Care Admittances: 373
Currently on Ventilators: 205