The COVID-19 death toll is jumping significantly in Whitley, Knox and Laurel counties.
During his daily press briefing Thursday, Gov. Andy Beshear announced that 417 additional deaths are now being reported that occurred during the most recent COVID-19 surge which took place between the first of November and the end of January. The newly reported deaths are the result of a recent audit of death certificates that took place during that time frame.
The new total includes 10 additional deaths from Whitley County, 10 additional deaths from Knox County, and six additional deaths from Laurel County.
“The way that we normally get our information on deaths is through local health departments. We then check the information, make sure it is a COVID-19 death – it goes through a committee – and then it moves onto our report. That’s why sometimes local health departments will report a death earlier than we do,” Beshear said. “There are some deaths we receive that we determine are not a COVID-19 death. Our commitment is first to be accurate, but second, to make sure that there are no unknown soldiers, that we account for every single individual we’ve lost and we recognize every single grieving family. So what we have done is we have pulled every death certificate from November to the end of January that lists COVID-19. We have then compared those to what we have reported, what came up from the local health departments.”
“For those who we don’t have a report for, we then see if there is a positive COVID-19 test we can connect their case to. With those, where we know the individual had it, we then look at the documentation in the same way that we would if it came up through the local health department.”
He said the new death tolls will be reflected in the upcoming days by local health departments in their death tolls.
The Whitley County Health Department’s previously reported COVID-19 death toll stood at 32 confirmed fatalities with the five most recent deaths being reported on Feb. 22.
The Knox County Kentucky Health Department’s previously reported COVID-19 death toll stood at 15 COVID-19 deaths with the most recent death occurring on Oct. 26.
Laurel County’s previously confirmed COVID-19 death toll was listed at 49 people.
Beshear said that he anticipates another 187 deaths being announced in the coming days as a result of the audit.
“Our commitment is to know the full devastation of this virus. This won’t be the last audit we do. It won’t be the last time we discover people, who passed away,” Beshear noted.
Beshear also reported 31 new deaths Thursday.
This brought the new revised death toll to 5,504 in Kentucky Thursday.
Knox, Laurel, Bell and Whitley County all reported COVID-19 incidence rates Thursday that were among the top 14 highest incidence rates in the state.
The Knox County Kentucky Health Department announced Thursday that 20 new COVID-19 cases had been reported, which includes six cases involving children. This brings the county’s total number of cases to 3,368.
There are currently 129 active cases in Knox County.
With the additional cases, Knox County’s COVID–19 incidence rate stood at 41.7 Thursday, which was the third highest incidence rate in the state, according to the state’s official COVID-19 website.
The Knox County Health Department also announced Thursday that it had been notified about people with positive COVID-19 cases being employed at Burkes Outlet in Corbin, and Walmart Pharmacy in Barbourville.
The Knox County Health Department is working closely with management to ensure all employees are following proper recommendations. The employees, who tested positive, as well as others in their immediate work areas, are self-quarantining, the Knox County Health Department wrote in a release.
If you patronized Burkes Outlet in Corbin during the following times, then it is possible you may have been exposed.
- Wednesday, March 17, between the hours of 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.
- Tuesday, March 16, between the hours of 9 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.
- Monday, March 15, between the hours of 11 a.m. – 8 p.m.
If you patronized the Walmart Pharmacy in Barbourville during the following times, then it is possible you may have been exposed.
- Wednesday, March 17, Tuesday, March 16, or Monday, March 15, between the hours of 9 a.m. – 7 p.m.
The public is encouraged to monitor for symptoms of COVID-19, and if they become ill and show signs of COVID-19, then they should get tested, the Knox County Health Department wrote in a release.
The Laurel County Health Department is no longer releasing COVID-19 numbers Tuesday through Friday, and instead is issuing a weekly COVID-19 update every Monday afternoon at 5 p.m.
Laurel County’s COVID–19 incidence rate stood at 26.3 Thursday, which was the seventh highest COVID-19 incidence rate in the state, according to the state’s official COVID-19 website.
The Bell County Health Department reported 10 new individual COVID-19 cases Thursday, bringing the county’s total number of cases to 2,881.
There are currently 47 active individual cases, of which four people are hospitalized.
The Bell County Health Department has announced a total of 41 COVID-19 deaths with the two most recent fatalities being reported on March 16.
Bell County’s COVID–19 incidence rate stood at 22.0 Thursday, which was the 11th highest incidence rate in the state, according to the state’s official COVID-19 website.
The Whitley County Health Department announced eight additional COVID–19 cases on Thursday, bringing the county’s total number of cases to 3,486.
There are currently 81 active cases of which no one is hospitalized. A total of 3,373 people have been released from isolation in Whitley County.
With the new cases, Whitley County’s COVID–19 incidence rate stood at 21.3 Thursday, which was the 14th highest rate in the state, according to the state’s official COVID-19 website
Gov. Andy Beshear announced 785 additional COVID–19 cases in Kentucky on Thursday, bringing the state’s total to 419,149.
Beshear said 449 Kentuckians are currently hospitalized, of which 110 are in intensive care.
As of Thursday, eight of Kentucky’s 120 counties have a COVID–19 incidence rate greater than 25, which places them in the red zone.
Lyon County has the highest incidence rate in the state at 276.7. Lee, Menifee, Fulton, and Elliott counties all had an incidence rate of 0.0.
Beshear also announced Thursday that starting Friday, bars and restaurants will be allowed to serve until midnight and the doors must close by 1 a.m.
Social distancing and the 60 percent seating capacity limits remain however.
Beshear announced that all Kentuckian 50 and older can sign up for COVID-19 vaccination appointments on or after Monday, March 22.
He said all Kentuckians ages 16 and older will be able to sign up for appointments by April 12.
“Kentuckians deemed most vulnerable should still get priority, and they will, but we can’t have these vaccines sitting in a freezer. We are in a race against the COVID-19 variants and we’ve got to get it out fast,” said Beshear.