Louisville COVID cases slightly increase for 2nd straight week
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (April 20, 2021) – Mayor Greg Fischer and Dr. Sarah Moyer, Louisville’s Chief Health Strategist, updated Louisvillians today on COVID-19 in the city, discussed the latest news on the Janssen vaccine, and addressed vaccine hesitancy among Louisville’s Black community and the efforts to ease those concerns.
Following Governor Andy Beshear’s announcement Monday regarding simplified Kentucky Healthy at Work Guidelines for all businesses, Mayor Fischer said it was encouraging that Louisville is beginning to see its economy emerge again. Still, the Mayor cautioned that there is an ongoing race against the COVID-19 variants. Speaking further, he said the city’s future depends on everyone beating COVID-19 by making sure the virus has no place to go.
“Right now, we’re running a marathon and we may see the finish line ahead, but we cannot declare victory,” Mayor Fischer said. “We need to be vigilant and mask up and maintain distance when we’re in public. Before, we could only play defense. Now we’re on offense, and the best tool we have to keep the virus from spreading is to get vaccinated.”
Here are the key COVID-19 data metrics for the week of April 19, 2021:
- There were 750 new cases over the previous week.
- Hospitalization data:
- 5% of patients currently hospitalized have COVID-19.
- 22 patients in ICU with COVID-19 as of April 20, compared to 25 the week prior.
- 11 COVID-19 patients on ventilators as of April 20, compared to 11 last week.
- 570,706 total vaccine doses given in Metro Louisville since December.
- 42.6% of Louisville residents have received at least one dose of vaccine and 27.5% have completed the vaccine series
Dr. Moyer reported that COVID cases increased for the second straight week after the city saw 12 weeks of decline in new cases. She said a majority of the cases are related to travel and individuals that come in contact with others traveling.
Dr. Moyer used the recent increase as a reminder that COVID is present in Louisville and there are cases of the COVID variants that are beginning to add up. She stressed for individuals that are traveling or moving about to screen themselves regularly.
“We know variants are increasing in the community,” Dr. Moyer said. “Last week, we reported 34 cases of the B.1.1.7 and one case of the P.1. If you’re traveling and hanging out with people that are not vaccinated, please continue to get tested. Get tested before traveling and get tested when you return.”
If anyone you know needs assistance scheduling a vaccine appointment, they can call the LOU HEALTH COVID-19 Helpline at 502-912-8598 or visit the health department’s website for a list of vaccine providers.
Local Faith-Based Leaders Address Vaccine Hesitancy & Equity
Public health and city officials acknowledged critical elements in Louisville’s fight against COVID-19 during Tuesday’s update, vaccine equity and hesitancy in the Black community.
Vincent James, Chief of Community Building with Metro Government and Reverend at Elim Baptist Church, said when the vaccine was made available to Louisville’s Black 70+ population, the uncertainty from residents occurred because the vaccine was new. He said more education about the development, clinical trials and other parts of the process was needed. James said with time, more opportunities for vaccine access in the Black community allowed the Black 70+ population to gain more knowledge and have more informed decisions.
“One of the key elements, as more education has gone out and more opportunities to get the vaccine has increased in Black communities, we’ve seen an increase in that 70+ population getting vaccinated,” James said.
James said a current theme he’s seeing among the younger population is misconceptions about the vaccine. He said a common myth is how the vaccine can affect fertility or reproductive organs. James said this speculative information can be damaging and contributes to the spread of misinformation about the vaccine.
“They’re hesitant because of theories like these that pop up,” James said. “It’s really unfounded information that we need to get clarity around in that younger population because I’m seeing a disproportionate amount of younger people unwilling to be vaccinated at this time.”
Bishop Dr. Steven M. Kelsey, Founding Pastor of Spirit Filled New Life Church Ministries and faith-based liaison for the Office of Safe and Healthy Neighborhoods, said he’s seen residents hesitant because they have pre-existing conditions and are unsure of how the vaccine will affect their health if they have heart problems and other pre-existing conditions. Furthermore, he cited the Tuskegee Syphilis Study in 1932, where Black sharecroppers were recruited under the pretense that they would be treated for “bad blood,” when the nature of the study was the effects of untreated syphilis in the Black population as an additional example of mistrust in government within the Black community.
James said the strategy has to shift where public health officials must engage with small community-based organizations and groups to educate the younger demographic about COVID and the vaccine if they are going to allay fears.
Update on Recommended Pause in Use of Janssen Vaccine
Last week, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), out of an abundance of caution, called for an immediate pause in use of the Janssen single-dose vaccine after six U.S. cases, all of which were women, developed rare blood clots identified as cerebral venous sinus thrombosis (CVST) with thrombocytopenia. The cases reported, detected symptoms between six to 13 days after vaccination.
The CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, met on April 14 to review additional data on the six cases. After the meeting it was determined that more information was needed. The CDC states that it will continue to collect information and the ACIP will convene to re-evaluate scientific evidence, cases and assess their potential significance. Afterwards, the CDC and FDA will review and consider the committee’s recommendations once they are made.
Dr. Moyer said despite the caution being taken with the Janssen vaccine there should be no concern with the safety and effectiveness of the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines.
“One of the reasons for this pause was the rare blood clots in those six cases,” Dr. Moyer said. “Since a majority of the Janssen vaccine had recently been given health officials wanted to make sure this wasn’t a trend that would continue. It’s great that we have two highly effective vaccines available that are some of the most effective vaccines that we’ve had in our medical history. Both Pfizer and Moderna are more beneficial than getting COVID in building immunity and I encourage anyone that is able to get vaccinated. We have plenty of appointments available at vaccine providers in Louisville.”
First Responder Data
Currently, 15 members of LMPD, Louisville Fire, Metro EMS, Metro Corrections and the Sheriff’s Office are off-duty due to COVID-19:
- 6 are off with positive tests and in self-isolation
- 4 are off and quarantined due to exposure to someone who tested positive
- 5 are off with symptoms, pending test results
Positive test numbers for first responders/public safety since the incident began:
- 561 positive tests
- 555 have fully recovered and returned to duty
Metro Corrections inmate data:
Total Tested: 7,368
Total Positive: 414
Total Recovered: 414
Total currently under medical isolation: 0
Total tests pending: 0
# # #
View this week’s COVID-19 briefing with city 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 www.louisville.gov/covid19. The LOU HEALTH COVID19 Helpline is also available: 502- 912-8598