LouVax will go mobile to reach vulnerable communities
On Tuesday, Mayor Fischer and Dr. Sarah Moyer, Louisville’s Chief Health Strategist were joined by health officials to provide an update on COVID-19 in Louisville and announce a new phase in the city’s fight against COVID-19 utilizing mobile vaccination missions to reach vulnerable populations.
While encouraged by the 11 consecutive weeks of declining COVID cases in the city, Mayor Fischer said residents and community members cannot afford to get complacent with COVID variants evolving around the world and across the country.
“We have to keep pushing. We can’t act like this fight is over just because we’re in a better position than we were in January. It’s most certainly not over because we know this virus is evolving and there are multiple variants circulating. Just as the virus evolves, our approach to stopping it has to evolve as well.”
Mayor Fischer expressed optimism in the ongoing bout with COVID citing the presence of three safe and effective vaccines that are proven in preventing serious complications against the virus. He urged that people should continue to follow the safety measures of mask-wearing, social distancing, avoiding crowds and when it’s their turn to get vaccinated.
“Getting vaccinated, creating herd immunity is how we reclaim our lives, reclaim our community and reclaim control over our health and our future,” he said.
Here are the key COVID-19 data metrics for the week of March 29, 2021:
- There were 754 new cases over the previous week.
- Hospitalization data:
- 5.7% of patients currently hospitalized have COVID-19.
- 19 patients in ICU with COVID-19 as of March 30, a decrease from 22 the week prior.
- 12 COVID-19 patients on ventilators as of March 30, same number as last week.
- 391,136 total vaccine doses given in Metro Louisville since December.
- 31.5% of Louisville residents have received at least one dose of vaccine and 15.8% have completed the vaccine series
Dr. Moyer reported that Louisville remains in the orange alert level for COVID cases with the recent decline. She added there are still several hospitalizations and patients lost to the virus that is preventable with vaccination. As the weather progresses into warmer forecasts, Dr. Moyer encourage individuals ages 16 and older or ages 40 and older with health conditions that put them at increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19 to
“If you have not received your first dose or started the series, I encourage you to visit our website today and schedule an appointment for the vaccine,” she said. “I know many of you are waiting for our high-risk Louisvillians to get vaccinated first, but now is the time to get everyone vaccinated.”
Dr. Moyer encouraged everyone to continue following the safety protocols and get tested as often as possible.
Co-Immunity Wastewater COVID-19 Variant Monitoring
Dr. Aruni Bhatnagar, Director of the Christina Lee Brown Environme Institute at the University of Louisville, presented the latest research of the Co-Immunity Project’s Wastewater study in monitoring COVID-19 variants in Louisville. Dr. Bhatnagar said that although infection rates are down in Louisville, there are still areas where persistent high levels of infection exist. Through the wastewater study, he said the research team has identified multiple variant strains in the community.
According to Dr. Bhatnagar, COVID variants are becoming a new problem in Louisville. The newer variants that Dr. Bhatnagar referenced are B.1.429 and B.1.427 first identified in California and B.1.1526 first identified in New York. In addition to these new variants, Dr. Bhatnagar said other variants identified in the community include B.1.17 (UK), B.1.351 (SA) and P.1 (Brazil) in areas such as Shawnee Park, Ashby lane and Mill Creek, 34th Street and many others. He said that in areas where there were high levels of vaccination, there was less presence in COVID variants.
“The concerning part, especially with the UK variant is that it is more infectious and causes 60 percent more deaths,” Dr. Bhatnagar said. “With the California variant, people who contract it are five times more likely to be hospitalized by this. These are serious issues, and these are significant variants of concern. The variants are popping up where there is less coverage of the vaccine. So, it’s imperative that we enhance the rate at which we vaccinate people so that we can curb the ancestral virus before it gets a chance to mutate and before these new variants crop up and infect people in our community.”
University of Louisville Health Cardinal Stadium Vaccination Site
Dr. Jason Smith, Chief Medical Officer for the University of Louisville Health shared details on the new mass vaccination site at Cardinal Stadium in efforts to make vaccinations available to every Louisvillian.
On March 31, individuals can register for appointments at Cardinal Stadium where vaccinations will begin April 12 for individuals ages 16 and up. Dr. Smith said the 24-lane site will be able to accommodate 4,000 to 5,000 vaccinations daily with an expectation to administer 24,000 in the first week. Dr. Smith said the site will have a combination of two of the COVID vaccines due to the amount of vaccinations that will occur. He added that over six weeks they anticipate being able to administer 200,000 vaccine doses in the Louisville community.
“We’ll probably have some Pfizer vaccine to start with then move over to the Janssen vaccine later in the project to maintain being able to do this without second dose appointments as we’re closing up. “Over the course of seven weeks we’ll probably have both of those vaccines moving through the community and in the vaccination site.”
When Cardinal Stadium opens for vaccinations, it will become the largest regional vaccination site in Kentucky. To keep that size of operation efficient, Dr. Smith said UofL has enlisted the help of fourth-year medical students from the university that will work with them. Additionally, he said there is a pool of individuals ready to help out.
“We’ve got resources from AmeriCorps, the National Guard for maintaining traffic and other folks that stepped up and donated their time to make sure the ground operations work,” Dr. Smith said. “We have a little over 100 people per day working and maintaining the site. The city’s helping, the state’s helping, and it’ll be a fantastic resource for our community. We are thrilled to be a part of it,” Dr. Smith said.
“The city’s helping, the state’s helping, and it’ll be a fantastic resource for our community, and we are thrilled to be a part of it,” Dr. Smith said.
Those interested in signing up can do so at www.UofLHealth.org or by calling 502-681-1435.
LouVax Shifts Operations to Mobile Missions
During Tuesday’s briefing Dr. SarahBeth Hartlage, Associate Medical Director of the Louisville Metro Department of Public Health and Wellness announced that the health department will begin to phase out operations at Broadbent Arena and shift to LouVax-Mobile deploying resources towards mobile vaccination missions.
Speaking to the decision to shift gears at LouVax, Dr. Hartlage said she was extremely proud of the role the site played in caring for tens of thousands of Louisville residents. Additionally, she said the expanded capacity of vaccination sites in the city such as Cardinal Stadium allows the health department to focus on high-risk populations. Dr. Hartlage said that LouVax will give its last primary doses Friday, April 9 and remain open through the end of April to give booster doses to everyone that received their first dose from the site.
“As a health department, our mission is to serve those at the highest risk, and those who have the most barriers to access care,” Dr. Hartlage said. “A mass vaccination site is not the best way to reach those people.
Dr. Hartlage said LouVax Mobile missions will be smaller than a mass vaccination operation adding that they could serve as few as 10 patients or as many as 1,000 at a given event. The missions are tailored to specific groups with community partners playing a vital role in their success such as last week’s mobile event on Saturday at Hope Wellness Center on West Broadway where 130 people were vaccinated.
“We have piloted a few mobile missions already,” Dr. Hartlage said. “So far, the response has been positive, the community has been enthusiastic, and the events have been successful. As always, we learn as we go, and we are looking forward to scaling up to more missions soon.”
Each mission is different, and many can accommodate patients without appointments. For others, patients will be able to schedule either online or via calling the LOU HEALTH HELPLINE. If you are part of a group that needs a LouVax-Mobile mission, you can reach out to [email protected] to discuss setting up an event.
First Responder Data
Currently, 20 members of LMPD, Louisville Fire, Metro EMS, Metro Corrections and the Sheriff’s Office are off-duty due to COVID-19:
- 8 are off with positive tests and in self-isolation
- 8 are off and quarantined due to exposure to someone who tested positive
- 4 are off with symptoms, pending test results
Positive test numbers for first responders/public safety since the incident began:
- 557 positive tests
- 549 have fully recovered and returned to duty
Metro Corrections inmate data:
Total Tested: 6,925
Total Positive: 409
Total Recovered: 408
Total currently under medical isolation: 1
Total tests pending: 0
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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