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Health

COVID case numbers on the rise in Ohio and Kentucky

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The most recent COVID case numbers from the Ohio Department of Health show more than 9,000 positive and confirmed cases of the virus. Meanwhile, COVID-19 in Kentucky is back on the rise with some of the highest numbers of new cases the state has reported since October.

Ohio Health Department Director Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff says the case numbers from the past couple of days are rising.
“These numbers are comparable to what we saw at the peak of our fall surge," he says. "Indeed the last time we saw case numbers this high was on September 10."

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Vanderhoff says there are no confirmed cases of the new Omicron variant in Ohio yet but he urges anyone who gets a positive result in an instant, at-home antigen test to follow up with a full PCR test. He says those tests are being used to determine variants in Ohio’s cases.

Vanderhoff urges anyone who is coughing or sneezing to get a COVID test before going out in public. Free instant, at-home, COVID tests are available at local libraries and health departments statewide.

Kentucky numbers

Kentucky reported more than 3,000 new cases on Tuesday. The last time the new daily case count was that high was October 1, according to state officials.

Governor Andy Beshear, at a press conference Thursday, said that the daily case count isn’t the only metric going up.

“It’s a significant increase in positivity and is an increase in hospitalizations, it appears, in the ICU, though not yet in our ventilator usage,” Beshear said.

He said the uptick in cases exceeded the expected variation in the previously established plateau.

The increase comes on the heels of Thanksgiving gatherings, but it’s unclear if that is the main factor. Beshear said waning immunity in people vaccinated more than six months ago could also impact the latest numbers.

“The way that ultimately we get out of this, we know, are vaccines,” Beshear said.

According to Beshear, 53% of all Kentuckians have been fully vaccinated, and 13% of the total population have received boosters. The Mayo Clinic reports that 52.1% of Kentuckians are fully vaccinated.

Other than concerns of an increase in cases, concerns around the Omicron variant are also present.

The commissioner of the Department for Public Health, Dr. Steven Stack, explained that not much is currently known about the Omicron variant.

“It is here, it will become present in communities all over the United States," Stack said. "It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when, and the question is what is the impact and what do we do about it?”

In order to catch variants, health officials rely on sequencing, looking at a virus to determine changes in the cell.

“The nation only used to have the ability to sequence 8,000 samples a week, and can apparently now sequence as many as 80,000 samples a week,” Stack said.

He said he is worried about Omicron, but he’s waiting to get more information on the mutation’s ability to spread both to vaccinated and unvaccinated people. Beshear said the commonwealth could see an increase in sequencing to better track the virus if it proves to be a more aggressive variant than delta.

Currently, no cases of the Omicron variant have been confirmed within Kentucky.

Copyright 2021 The Statehouse News Bureau. To see more, visit The Statehouse News Bureau.

Parts of this article first appeared on WFPL. To see more, visit wfpl.org.