Mayor, health officials discuss safe ways to enjoy the holidays
‘Vaccination is the No. 1 tool’ to prevent the spread of COVID-19, medical experts say
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (Nov. 23, 2021) – Mayor Greg Fischer, joined by Dr. Sarah Moyer, director of the Louisville Department of Public Health and Wellness (LMPHW), Dr. SarahBeth Hartlage, the department’s associate medical director, and Connie Mendel, the department’s deputy director, today encouraged residents to take precautionary measures to safely gather on Thanksgiving. The panel also provided an update about flu cases in the city.
Although Louisville’s COVID-19 cases remain in the red zone, the Mayor noted that vaccination rates are greatly improving.
“While I’m thankful to say that our situation is much better than it was last year, our entire community still is not where we need it to be for everyone to be safe from the virus,” the Mayor said. “The promising news is that we’re seeing vaccination rates go up again as more people become eligible.”
Here are the key COVID-19 data metrics for Nov. 23, 2021:
- Louisville remains in the alert level red with an incidence rate of 26.9
- There were 1,444 new cases over the previous week.
- There were 8 deaths.
- 140 patients currently hospitalized
- 47 patients in ICU
- 19 COVID-19 patients on ventilators
- 68.8% of Louisville residents have received at least one dose of vaccine
- 58.9% have completed the vaccine series
In response to the city’s data, the Mayor emphasized that more people need to get vaccinated to help the city move in the right direction.
“While 1,400 new cases are troubling, we were closer to 3,500 this time last year. That’s the vaccines at work,” he said. “Most people in our community are vaccinated. But there are still many who are not and that presents some challenges for holiday gatherings.”
Vaccine and booster doses on the rise
Many parents are breathing a sigh of relief as more than 11,000 children ages 5 to 11 across the area have been vaccinated so far, said Dr. Hartlage.
“There’s been some great excitement for families to have vaccines available for their kids, especially as we head into the holiday season,” she said. “There are many sites in the area that are offering vaccines, including boosters for adults. Many of our public health sites offer that service along with our private-sector partners.”
Dr. Hartlage noted that the FDA has simplified the eligibility and approved booster doses for anyone over 18.
“If your first shot was Janssen, you can get your booster after two months, and if you received the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, you can get your booster shot after six months. Everyone is eligible, and there are no qualifying factors,” she said. “Vaccination is the No. 1 tool to prevent COVID-19.”
She urged people who will be celebrating at family gatherings to get vaccinated.
“If no one is vaccinated, the risk of someone bringing the virus to the table is much higher,” she said. “If anyone has symptoms, we recommend that you stay home and not put your family members at risk.”
Dr. Hartlage also recommended that people get tested before joining festive gatherings.
Get a flu and COVID shots
With Louisville still in a red-alert level, it’s important to also get a flu vaccine to stay healthy. Flu shots are the best way to protect yourself and your loved ones against the virus’ serious effects, Dr. Hartlage said.
There are many similarities between flu and COVID-19. Both are contagious respiratory illnesses that can lead to severe illnesses for many. And the good news is that people can get both the flu and COVID vaccines on the same day. Both vaccines are safe, effective vaccines, she said.
Residents can click here to find flu vaccines.
Say Yes to Covid Test home kits are still available
As more people gather for the holidays, residents are encouraged to pick up the Say Yes! COVID Test at pick-up locations around the city. The home kits will help residents to perform a test twice a week, regardless of symptoms, to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and keep the community healthy, Mendel said.
“We have been very successful with this program and provided more than 318,000 home COVID tests to the community,” she said. “More than 148,000 have been ordered online, and over 170,000 tests have been shipped to our community partners.”
Residents can visit any of the 40 locations to pick up four test kits, and now is the perfect time to use them during the holidays, Mendel added.
Frequent testing, combined with vaccination, wearing a mask, hand washing and social distancing, can help to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
The home tests do not replace workplace, travel or school testing policies.
To find a location to pick up a free test, visit covidhometestlouisville.org or call the LOU Health COVID Helpline at 502-912-8598.
View this week’s COVID-19 briefing with public health officials here.
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The city’s COVID-19 data dashboard, a complete list of COVID-19 testing sites, vaccine information, prevention and more can be found at www.louisville.gov/covid19. The LOU HEALTH COVID19 Helpline is also available: 502-912-8598.