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Kentucky's COVID positivity rate still heading north, but other factors may point to a different kind of uptick

A COVID-19 testing sign propped outside the University of Kentucky's community COVID testing site.
Josh James
A COVID-19 testing sign propped outside the University of Kentucky's community COVID testing site.

Kentucky's COVID positivity rate is climbing again, but officials remain cautiously hopeful this isn't a repeat of the first Omicron surge.

If you look at just one data point — the test positivity rate — you might wonder why more alarms haven't been sounding yet from Frankfort. At the end of March, that number sat below 2%. Now it's up over 9%.

But a wider snapshot reveals why public officials, including Gov. Andy Beshear, haven't been quite as concerned as they have in the past.

While new cases have ticked up in Kentucky, the pattern doesn't match the kind of sharp increases seen before major surges. Another factor: fewer instances of serious illness and ICU usage.

But the governor did mention, in his briefing last week, that the vast majority of Kentuckians haven't opted to re-up their protection through boosters.

"Only about 25% of our population is boosted at the moment. That is one easy thing you can do right now to protect yourself because we're starting to see some of those number tick up."
Gov. Andy Beshear

A recent Brown University study found that Kentucky could have prevented more than 7,100 deaths through wider vaccination.

With COVID mandates being dropped across the country, upticks concentrated in certain regions, and health authorities shifting their focus to hospitalizations, gauging one's risk can be trickier.

The government is currently offering a third round of free at-home tests, while the FDA has authorized a third shot of Pfizer’s COVID vaccine for children ages 5 to 11 at least five months after their two-dose primary series.

Josh James fell in love with college radio at Western Kentucky University's student station, New Rock 92 (now Revolution 91.7). After working as a DJ and program director, he knew he wanted to come home to Lexington and try his hand in public radio.