Health officials urge residents to recommit to stop the spread of COVID-19

January 12, 2021

Amid optimism and hope brewing from the success of the first week of mass vaccinations at the LouVax site at Broadbent Arena, Mayor Greg Fischer and Louisville’s Chief Health Strategist Dr. Sarah Moyer addressed the recent surge in COVID-19 case counts in the city and why it’s important to continue following safety protocols as the health department and its community partners work to vaccinate the community.

There were 4,140 positive cases reported last week as Louisville entered into record territory again, just a few weeks removed from seeing the number of cases decline significantly. Speaking to the drastic increase in the post-holiday season, Dr. Moyer stated that the data is proof that COVID-19 is contagious, can cause serious illness, death and long-lasting health challenges.

“We have entered into another surge,” Dr. Moyer said. “We’re back in that triple-red category and had a record-setting week on many accounts. Case counts are at an all-time high, and last week, we set a record for deaths. It pains me to say that thinking about 59 families that lost a loved one over the holidays.”

Dr. Moyer urged residents to commit to doing all that’s possible to help stop the spread of COVID-19 in the community including reducing mobility to essential needs only, postponing gatherings, and visiting friends and family virtually. She added that while healthcare workers are the focus of vaccinations currently, there is an end in sight to the pandemic.

“With the arrival of the vaccine there is an end in sight for the first time in the last year,” Dr. Moyer said. “Let’s stay strong a little longer and remember it’s not just about you. It’s about your family, your friends, and the people you care about most. You’re keeping them safe, and they’re keeping you safe.”

Mayor Fischer reiterated Dr. Moyer’s comments while asking residents to exercise patience as the health department continues to vaccinate healthcare workers in tier 1A.

“We’ve got a long way to go to eliminate this virus, but we’re making progress,” he said. “We’re getting the vaccine into people’s arms as quickly as we can and that’s the key to rebuilding our economy, getting our children back into classrooms and going to theaters and ballgames without worrying about infecting anyone.”

Here are the key COVID-19 data metrics for the week of January 12, 2021:

  • There were 4,140 new cases over the previous week.
  • Hospitalization data:
    • 18.1% of patients currently hospitalized have COVID-19.
    • 89 patients in ICU with COVID-19 as of January 12, an increase from 85 the week prior. 
    • 59 COVID-19 patients on ventilators as of January 12, compared to 60 last week.
  • COVID-19 cases are in every ZIP code and each of them is in the red.
  • 20-44-year-old demographic accounts for the majority of cases at 42%
  • COVID-19 cases continue to impact our African American and Latinx communities at disproportionate rates. The health department will continue to provide and promote resources to include information and education for residents needing to quarantine and increase testing capacity.
  • With high-level community spread, interactions with individuals outside the household put residents at a greater risk of bringing an infection home. Once a member of the household is infected, it is likely to spread to others.

Reporting from the LouVax site at Broadbent Arena, Dr. SarahBeth Hartlage, Associate Medical Director of Louisville Metro Public Health and Wellness announced that the department is expected to administer 800 vaccines to healthcare workers in tier 1A on Tuesday and is currently on pace for 4,000 doses for the week. Tier 1A includes health care workers, medical first responders, long-term care residents and staff.

 

Dr. Hartlage emphasized that she was proud of the team of volunteers and staff for an efficiently ran operation citing that the health department has totaled zero severe reactions to the vaccine and no doses have been wasted in the process.

 

“Across the Metro area we are generally meeting the state standard of administering 90 percent of the vaccine doses within seven days of their arrival,” Dr. Hartlage said. “As quickly as it’s coming in, we are pushing it back out, giving it to our community and getting as many people vaccinated as we can.”

 

 

Instilling trust in public health from the African American community

 

Dr. Mark Burns, an infectious disease specialist at University of Louisville hospital and assistant professor at the school of medicine, said Black and minority communities through time have been disproportionately affected by different illnesses, the latest of which include COVID-19.  Responding to inquiries about the lack of trust in the COVID-19 vaccine in Black and brown communities, Dr. Burns cited several instances that have sown distrust within the Black community toward vaccines, medicine, and the U.S. government.

 

He expounded on the case of Henrietta Lacks. Lacks, a Black woman in the 1950s, was diagnosed with cervical cancer, and her cancer cells were harvested without her knowledge, used for research by scientists for developing the polio vaccine, trials in medicine for tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS research and most recently COVID-19. 

 

Furthermore, he noted the Tuskegee Syphilis Study beginning in 1932, where Black sharecroppers were recruited under the pretense that they would be treated for “bad blood.” The nature of the study was the effects of untreated syphilis in the Black population. Dr. Burns stated that even when treatments were available such as penicillin, it was never offered to the participants.  

 

“It’s these types of instances that have created mistrust in the minority community and particularly the Black community,” Dr. Burns said. “Our hopes now at the University of Louisville hospital, the Fall Center Medical Society and the Greater Louisville Medical Society is to promote more trust within the Black community to actually receive the vaccine. That will be extremely important in bringing this pandemic to an end.”

 

A member of the COVID-19 Distribution Task Force, Dr. Burns said going forward to better the relationship between minority communities, medicine and health departments to the vaccine for COVID-19, there needs to be more transparency of the process. That includes the vaccine being made in the United States, being direct about the clinical trials and its participants, including minorities and answering questions that arise about the vaccine. He also said building trust within the Black community starts by showing Black physicians receiving the vaccine.

 

“By doing that, we’re believing in what we’re saying and telling you how important it is to get the vaccine to end this pandemic and improve the overall health in our community,” he said.

 

First Responder Data

 

Currently, 75 members of LMPD, Louisville Fire, Metro EMS, Metro Corrections and the Sheriff’s Office are off-duty due to COVID-19:

  • 31 are off with positive tests and in self-isolation
  • 28 are off and quarantined due to exposure to someone who tested positive
  • 8 are off with symptoms, pending test results

 

Positive test numbers for first responders/public safety since the incident began:

  • 466 positive tests
  • 435 have fully recovered and returned to duty

 

Metro Corrections inmate data:

 

Total Tested: 5,161

Total Positive: 302

Total Recovered: 285

Total currently under medical isolation: 17

Total tests pending: 0

# # #

 

To view the entire COVID-19 weekly update with Public Health officials click here. The city’s COVID-19 data dashboard, a complete list of COVID-19 testing sites, information on symptoms, prevention and contact tracing can be found at www.louisville.gov/covid19. The LOU HEALTH COVID19 Helpline is also available: 502- 912-8598.

 

 

 

 

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