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Dr. Sarah Moyer, director of the Louisville Metro Department of Public Health and Wellness (LMPHW) was joined by Dr. SarahBeth Hartlage, the department’s associate medical director, Dr. Steve Hester, chief medical officer at Norton Healthcare and Dr. Chuck Anderson, chief medical officer at Baptist Health Louisville, to announce that Louisville has set a record-high number of confirmed COVID-19 cases powered by the omicron variant.
“Just last week less than 50% were showing signs of omicron at some of our testing sites, and this week above 90% in one of our sites are showing signs of omicron,” said Dr. Moyer.
As a result, there has been a significant uptick in cases in a short time, said Dr. Hartlage.
“We have added 1,742 new positive COVID cases, and specifically, we have many residents who did the right thing by getting tested before they went to their holiday gatherings,” she said. “As of today, we have 628 people, who tested negative in the days before the Christmas holiday and have subsequently tested positive this week. So even if you’ve tested negative before your gathering, it’s worth testing again because we’re seeing some people convert to positive.”
Dr. Hartlage added, “Our daily incidence rate went to 101.38 cases per 100,000, and this has shattered the previous records as we had 81 cases per 100,000 back in December 2020. By all indicators, these numbers are going to get worse before they get better.”
A month ago, the positivity rate was at 8.25%, and today, it has drastically increased to nearly 20%, she said.
“When the positivity rate climbs significantly to almost 20%, it indicates that there are a lot of people who are not being tested,” said Dr. Hartlage. “COVID is breaking new records every day, and unfortunately, we’re going to continue to see higher numbers.”
She noted that if you wake up feeling poorly with symptoms such as a sore throat or respiratory symptoms including a cough, shortness of breath and headaches, it’s likely that you have a positive case of coronavirus. She recommended that residents can go to LMPHW’s website to find resources such as urgent care clinics and primary care physician offices for testing.
Increase in ICU patients
Norton Healthcare has 176 patients who have COVID-19 and over 80% are unvaccinated, said Dr. Hester. The chief medical officer strongly encouraged residents to get vaccinated.
“The vaccines work at keeping you out of the hospital and certainly decreasing the risk for death,” he said. “That’s so important at this phase, especially since very, very few people are getting admitted who’ve gotten a booster, and if they do, they’ve likely got some other comorbid conditions that are contributing to that. And so again, if you’re eligible for a booster, we encourage you to get one.”
As the cases continue to rise, Dr. Hester said he was concerned about the number of children who are being hospitalized. Many small children are still not eligible for vaccination, and parents need to take safety precautions to prevent them from becoming infected with the virus, especially for any upcoming New Year’s events and gatherings, he said.
Baptist Health Louisville chief medical officer Dr. Anderson also urged for residents to get vaccinated. Currently, the hospital has “nine or 10” unvaccinated patients in the intensive care unit. “Vaccination will keep you out of the ICU, and most likely, keep you out of the hospital,” he said.
Dr. Moyer provided tips to help reduce the risk of getting sick:
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