As the United States sees the highest number of new cases of the coronavirus since the surge in late summer, Kentucky is an outlier.
In the last two weeks, the nation has averaged more than 200,000 new cases per day, a 69 percent jump during the period, but Kentucky’s new-case rate has dropped 39%, more than any other state, according to The New York Times.
Kentucky’s new-case rate over the last seven days ranks 39th among the states, the Times reports. Citing Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data, the newspaper says Kentucky’s new-case average over the last seven days is 1,383 per day. That’s 39% lower than the 2,270 average calculated from the state’s last public report on Dec. 22, four days before the Times report.
The difference could be driven by more limited testing and reporting in Kentucky over the Christmas holidays, and maybe by geography. The states with low new-case rates tend to have large rural populations and lie in the interior of the country, while most of the states with big increases are along the coasts.
Examples include Florida, 818%; Georgia, 299%; and Louisiana, 243%. Virginia’s rate has risen 106% and California’s has gone up 90%. One other state that borders Kentucky is above the 69% national increase: Illinois, at 75%. Other gains among bordering states are Ohio, 61%; Tennessee, 57%; and West Virginia, 12%. Indiana is down 8% and Missouri is down 3%.
Kentucky officials will resume their daily release of coronavirus data today, but the more telling day is likely to be Tuesday, reflecting testing, reporting and hospitalizations on the first day after the holidays.
Gov. Andy Beshear has said the state will see a surge in cases from the highly contagious Omicron variant of the virus, which could be limited if more Kentuckians would get vaccinated against the virus or get a booster shot. Medical experts say vaccinated people without boosters are not well protected against Omicron.
Only 33.6% of the state’s “fully vaccinated” residents have received a booster, according to CDC data compiled by The Washington Post; it says 57.4% of Kentucky’s vaccine-eligible population, 5 and older, and 54% of the entire population, are fully vaccinated, a term that does not include booster shots.