Gov. Andy Beshear said Kentucky reported 52,603 new cases of COVID-19 last week, the highest weekly total on record at nearly 22,000 cases.
It also reported the highest test positivity rate in the state on Monday, 26.33%.
“Omicron continues to burn through the Commonwealth, growing to levels we’ve never seen before. Omicron is significantly more contagious than even the delta variant,” Beshear said. “If it spreads at the rate we’re seeing, it will certainly fill our hospitals.”
Beshear said it is deploying 445 Kentucky National Guard members to 30 health care facilities to provide support, starting this week.
“We are now in a near vertical peak that dwarfs all previous escalations,” said Dr. Steven Stack, commissioner of the Kentucky Department of Public Health. “In just two weeks, Kentucky went from about half of our peak delta variant surge to more than double our peak delta variant surge. At this point, virtually all COVID-19 in Kentucky is likely to be the omicron variant.
Omicron seems to cause less severe illness, especially in vaccinated people. Stack provided several tips to help Kentuckians during the wave
— If you are sick, stay home until you feel better
— Get vaccinated or boosted, if eligible. Boosters significantly boost your protection against serious illness and death
– Wear a properly fitted mask at all times when indoors in public places such as school, work, shopping, etc.
— If you think you have COVID-19 and/or have been at high risk and are capable, get tested
Stack also said guidelines for K-12 schools are changing in light of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s update to its K-12 isolation and quarantine guidelines last week.
“Most importantly, universal masking is essential with omicron. If universal masking is not required in K-12 schools, omicron will spread rapidly and lead to rapid and mass absences of students and staff due to illness.
If a school requires universal masking, it:
— Does not have to do contact tracing in the school population if an HIV-positive person is identified in the school population, a
– Does not have to quarantine students or staff of the school population due to the discovery of an HIV-positive person in the school setting.
Mason County Superintendent Rick Ross said his district currently has a universal masking policy in place.
“That would only change if the county went ‘yellow’ for consecutive days,” he said. Mason County, like most counties in Kentucky, is currently in the red zone.
In schools that do not require universal masking, schools are urged to maintain robust contact tracing when positive individuals are identified in the school setting and to quarantine anyone who is not up to date on their vaccinations COVID-19 if exposed in a school setting.
Regardless of a school’s masking requirements, people who test positive must self-isolate for at least five days.
People who are not up to date with their COVID-19 vaccinations and who are exposed to COVID-19 at home or outside of school should self-quarantine for at least five days, unless they are not participating in a modified test-to-stay quarantine program as described by KDPH.
Beshear said 63% of all Kentuckians had received at least their first dose, along with 67% of Kentuckians ages 5 and older and 74% of all adults in Kentucky.
The Buffalo Trace District Health Department is also concerned about the increasing number of positive COVID-19 cases throughout the district and encourages everyone to practice social distancing and get vaccinated, the superintendent said. Victor McKay.
“We have immunization clinics scheduled throughout January, including a few late clinics two Fridays as well as a few Saturday clinics at the Mason County Health Center. The schedule can be viewed on our website and people aged five and over are eligible to receive the vaccine,” McKay said.
People can check the calendar and book an appointment by going to www.buffalotracehealth.com
The latest available case numbers for the region include:
Mason County – 3,803 total cases, 276 active, 82 deaths.
Robertson County – 516 total cases, 27 active, 18 deaths.
Bracken County – 1,606 total cases, 98 active, 19 deaths.
Lewis County – 3,427 total cases, 131 active cases, 68 deaths.
Fleming County – 2,787 total cases, 61 active, 45 deaths.
Adams County, Ohio – 5,285 total cases, 118 deaths.
Brown County, Ohio – 8,570 total cases, 137 deaths.
The five BTADD counties remain in the red zone.