City leaders discuss how the COVID pandemic and gun violence are connected

October 05, 2021

Louisville still in red alert status but cases in a slow downward trend

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (October 5, 2021) –Dr. Sarah Moyer, director of the Louisville Metro Department of Public Health and Wellness, was joined on today’s COVID-19 briefing by Dr. SarahBeth Hartlage, the department’s associate medical director, as well as Dr. Monique Williams, director of the Louisville Metro Office of Safe and Healthy Neighborhoods, and Vincent James, Louisville’s Chief of Community Building.  

After an update on the most recent COVID data, the panel discussed how the pandemic and gun violence are connected.  Previous COVID briefings have addressed the connection between the pandemic and a rise in suicides and overdoses. 

Dr. Moyer noted that the pandemic has increased anxiety, depression and isolation. According to the CDC, people who are depressed are more likely to commit violence against themselves, in the case of suicide and overdose, or against other people in the case of homicide.

Dr. Moyer reported that in 2019, 17 youth died by homicide. As of Oct. 1, 31 youth 18 and under have died by homicide this year.

“Gun violence isn’t random. Both guns and violence spread like infectious diseases through social networks—in the real world and online,” Dr. Moyer said. “Unfortunately, the discussion about violence is often framed as a moral failing and people engaging in it being beyond redemption.  However, that ignores the underlying factors and causes that lead to gun violence in the first place.”

“Taking a public health approach to gun violence, just as to a pandemic, means defining and monitoring the problem, identifying risk and protective factors, developing and testing prevention strategies and finally assuring widespread adoption of them,” she added. “One strategy is much like contact tracing and testing with COVID – it’s actively identifying those who are involved, isolating them and connecting them to resources and treatment, identifying those closely connected but not sick yet to make sure they are quarantining and connecting them to resources and treatment to stop the chain of transmission and further spread of the disease.”

Dr. Williams noted that the root causes of gun violence are many of the same root causes that have led to certain neighborhoods in west and southwest Louisville experiencing a higher burden of disease from COVID as well as diabetes, cancer and heart disease:  systemic inequities, built environment issues, access to quality health care, food and education, poverty, affordable housing, and employment.

“There’s a vaccine that exists for COVID,” said Dr. Williams. “And while there isn’t a vaccine for gun violence, we can help prevent it when we wrap kids in a cocoon of protective factors: providing social activities that foster a sense of belonging and meaning, providing good jobs, getting them mental health treatment for trauma and teaching them coping mechanisms, providing them positive peer and adult relationships, and creating protective community environments to name a few.”

Individuals who want to get involved, are encouraged to reach out to the Office of Safe and Healthy Neighborhoods, 502-574-1901, or at


“Our positive COVID cases over the last few weeks have been a bit of a seesaw, bouncing up and down. This may represent a plateau, and we hope a slow downward trend,” said Dr. Hartlage.

“Hospital utilization, including ICU admissions and ventilator use, are down from the record highs that we saw a few weeks ago, but they remain high. Our healthcare workers are still under tremendous stress,” she added.  “About 90% of hospital and ICU admissions are still in unvaccinated people. While people who are vaccinated may still get infected, these infections are generally mild and don’t require hospitalization.”

Here are the key COVID-19 data metrics for October 5, 2021:

  • Louisville remains in the red alert level with a daily incidence rate of 68.4 cases per 100,000.
  • There were 3,670 new cases over the previous week.
  • There were 30 additional deaths over the previous week.
  • Individuals 20 -44 are continuing to experience the highest number of cases followed by those who are 0 to 19. The lowest vaccination rates are also in individuals ages 20 to 44.
  • Hospitalization data:
    • 203 patients currently hospitalized have COVID-19.
    • 55 patients in ICU with COVID-19.
    • 37 COVID-19 patients on ventilators.


  • 64.1% of Louisville residents have received at least one dose of the vaccine.
  • 56% have completed the vaccine series.
  • The city has begin tracking third doses for people who are immune compromised as well as booster doses. Only the Pfizer vaccine has been approved for booster doses. Since Aug. 7, 10,300 doses have been administered.

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View this week’s COVID-19 briefing with public health officials here.   The city’s COVID-19 data dashboard, a complete list of COVID-19 testing sites, vaccine information, prevention and contact tracing can be found at The LOU HEALTH COVID19 Helpline is also available: 502-912-8598.

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