The COVID-19 surge health officials have warned about is hammering Scott County with 179 confirmed cases in just three days, pushing the county’s total number of coronavirus cases to 1,920, according to WEDCO Health District figures. The county’s greatest COVID surge came in November when 663 new cases — one-third of the total number of county cases since the pandemic began — but December has opened with the biggest single-day jump of confirmed cases at 76. 

Over the past two weeks Scott County’s hospitalizations have swollen to 40, an increase of almost 30 percent. The age range for those in the hospital is 25-95. The county’s death toll remains at 23, including 18 from Dover Manor, a long-term health care facility.

“We’re really at a critical stage,” said Dr. Crystal Miller, WEDCO public health director. “Statewide hospitalizations have quadrupled over the last month. Rural hospitals are starting to get overwhelmed. Harrison County Memorial, for example, serves four counties. Georgetown Community Hospital is fortunate because they are close to the Lexington hospitals, but the rural hospitals are struggling.

“It’s a scary situation. I’m hearing more and more that hospitals are having difficulty finding health care workers and their resources are wearing thin.”

Georgetown Community Hospital is okay but preparing for a surge, insiders said. The hospital does not release specific patient numbers, but CEO William Haugh said the hospital inpatient numbers are holding steady, if not down slightly. Most severe COVID cases are transferred to the University of Kentucky Medical Center or other larger Lexington hospitals. As they begin to recover the patients are transferred to smaller, nearby like hospitals such as Georgetown Community Hospital.

But rural hospitals that are not near a metro area are straining as the surge grows larger, health officials said. Statistics from the Kentucky Hospital Association for Dec. 1, show nearly one-third of the state’s hospital beds remain open, but one-third of the state’s ICU beds are filled with COVID-19 patients. 

Almost half the state’s 183,168 confirmed COVID cases fall into the age range from 0-to-39 years of age, but 99 percent of the state’s 1,943 deaths fall into the 40-to-80 plus age range, according to Kentucky Department for Public Health. Kentucky’s seven-day positivity rate has ballooned to 9.59 percent. These statistics are as of Dec. 1.

The current surge is from Halloween, election gatherings and early Thanksgiving gatherings, according to health officials.

“We are starting to see the ramifications of the early Thanksgiving family gatherings, Halloween and situations with family and close friends where people feel comfortable and they take off their mask,” Miller said. “We also have so many asymptomatic people that are unknowingly spreading the virus. They may have mild symptoms they dismiss, but they are unwittingly giving it to family and friends.

“We need to encourage people to get tested, even if they may have mild symptoms but otherwise feel fine.”

Scott County’s WEDCO office in Georgetown is testing five days per week.

“We aren’t requiring pre-registration, so if you please get tested if you think you’ve been exposed or you have some symptoms,” Miller said.

The number of confirmed cases has slowed down contact tracing, so WEDCO is asking people who have tested positive or have COVID symptoms such as chills, fever, cough, tiredness, shortness of breath, headache, sore throat, loss of smell, taste and more to self isolate and alert those with whom they have been in contact.

The Scott County Public Health Department is located at 300 East Washington St. in Georgetown.

 

Mike Scogin can be reached at mscogin@news-graphic.com.

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