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Kentucky bids farewell to COVID plateau, but officials remain cautiously optimistic we're not in surge territory

Josh James

Gov. Andy Beshear says it's fair to say Kentucky has no longer "leveled off" when it comes to new COVID-19 cases, but is instead seeing an escalation. But new variables are keeping hospitalizations and ICU usage in check.

If you look at Kentucky's map of new cases over time, you can see a line that's held fairly constant at a low level beginning to bend back up — suggesting the current plateau is over.

But state public health commissioner Dr. Steven Stack says widespread vaccination, coupled with past natural infections, mean the case count metric alone isn't quite as ominous as is used to be. Those catching the virus are still tending to get less sick, leading to less strain on hospitals.

So for those wanting to gauge their COVID risk in public, Stack is pointing them to the community level map, which combines several measures, among them hospitalizations. It's updated weekly at kycovid19.ky.gov.

"Because there's a de-linkage between the growth of those cases and the impact on healthcare and hospitals, and by extension people getting severely sick, we do believe it's enough time. If you look once a week, you can get a gauge for what's the trajectory."
Kentucky Public Health Commissioner Dr. Steven Stack

Stack encourages concerned residents to click on their county and follow the guidance offered for that week.

For those who do more digging, a glance at the state's incidence map might lead to some confusion — as it tracks average daily cases per 100,000 residents. While that map shows Fayette County as one of four counties with a high incidence rate, Stack says the community level map collects data that's proven to be the most reliable predictor over the course of the pandemic.

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.