Omicron variant cases ‘seem to be at a plateau’
Mayor Greg Fischer was joined by Dr. Sarah Moyer, director of the Louisville Metro Department of Public Health and Wellness (LMPHW), Dr. SarahBeth Hartlage, associate medical director of LMPHW, and Dr. Edward Miller, maternal fetal medicine physician and high-risk pregnancy obstetrician for UofL Health, to provide a COVID-19 update, discuss new childcare guidance and the impacts COVID-19 has had on expecting mothers.
“We’re continuing to see really shocking numbers that are out there right now,” Mayor Fischer said. “However, we are hopeful that this record surge that we’re seeing is going to start declining here pretty soon. We seem to be at a plateau.”
The Mayor said global scientific data shows that vaccines and boosters are working.
“Late last week, the CDC reported that Moderna and Pfizer boosters were 90% effective at adverting hospitalizations. Some people say, ‘look people that have been boosted are in the hospital, why bother?’” he said. “Well, because your odds for going to the hospital go way down, and the folks that are boosted in the hospital typically have underlying medical conditions.”
Here are the key COVID-19 data metrics for Jan. 25, 2022:
- Louisville remains in the alert level red with an incidence rate of 265.3 cases per 100,000 population.
- There were 14,244 new cases over the previous week.
- There were 7 newly reported deaths.
- 490 patients currently hospitalized
- 80 patients in ICU
- 52 patients on ventilators
- 73.9% of Louisville residents have received at least one dose of vaccine
- 63.5% have completed the vaccine series
- 42.8% have received a booster dose
Dr. Hartlage said though it appears the case count with the omicron variant wave has crested, precautions are still necessary.
“We are still 10 times the red limit and it is that way across the entire county,” Dr. Hartlage said. “The nature of statistics shows that there are just as many cases on the backside of the curve as there were on the front side of the curve.”
She encouraged people to utilize layered protections such as masks, vaccinations and booster shots.
“Boosters are available at over 100 places across the city. So, if you’ve not gotten yours yet please go out and get it and maybe we can weather the last of this omicron surge over the coming weeks,” Dr. Hartlage said.
New childcare and daycare guidance
Dr. Moyer, a mother of four, said she can relate to the strain that this latest COVID-19 surge has placed on parents of young children and childcare centers. She said although new childcare guidelines have been relaxed, they are still strict because children 0 to 4-years-old are not eligible to get vaccinated yet.
“A lot of quarantines are happening. A lot of isolation, and that’s causing issues especially for our parents of children 0 to 4. They’ve had to be out of work multiple times just within this last month with case counts increasing,” Dr. Moyer said.
Dr. Moyer introduced new childcare guidance, which is detailed here, that aims to help ease the strain on childcare facilities and parents, while also promoting safety.
Kids who are less than 2 years old will have to isolate for a full 10 days or anyone unable to wear a mask constantly indoors. Kids that are less than 2 should not be masked.
Those who test positive but remain without symptoms for a full five days can return on day six if they can wear a mask consistently indoors.
Those who test positive, but their symptoms are fully resolved after five days, can return on day six if they can wear a mask consistently indoors.
Do not need to quarantine:
- Children ages 5 to 17 who have completed their primary doses, and it has been greater than 14 days prior to exposure, do not need to quarantine.
- Anyone who is 18 or older and is up to date with their vaccines does not need to quarantine. Meaning, if they qualify for their booster and haven’t received it, they will need to quarantine.
- Not a change but a way that someone might not need to quarantine: Anyone who has a documented COVID-19 illness (PCR or antigen) within three months prior to exposure.
Quarantine can be discontinued:
- After five days if the individual is symptom-free and can wear a well-fitted mask for 10 full days.
- If the individual becomes symptomatic, they will need to isolate (day zero becomes onset) or if they are unable to wear a mask, they will need to complete quarantine at home for a full 10 days.
Dr. Moyer applauded daycare staff and personnel who are working hard to protect children in their care. She said one way to help protect our youngest population is to make sure those around them are vaccinated.
“Anyone over the age of 5, other siblings, please make sure they are vaccinated as well as parents, grandparents,” Dr. Moyer said. “Just like during pre-COVID times when you had a newborn baby you made sure everyone who came to visit had their flu shot or their tetanus shot.”
Expecting mothers encouraged to get vaccinated
Dr. Moyer said COVID-19 vaccinations offer protection for both mother and baby when it comes to those who are expecting.
Dr. Miller specializes in high-risk pregnancies and births for UofL Health. Throughout the pandemic, he has been caring for mothers who have fallen ill with COVID-19. He said his unvaccinated patients have had more severe issues than those who are vaccinated. Dr. Miller said severe COVID-19 infection has, at times, resulted in pre-term births.
“We have had women that are vaccinated that have come in sick and have been admitted, but we have not had a woman vaccinated that has been in the ICU or mechanically ventilated during pregnancy,” Dr. Miller said. “All of our patients that have been mechanically ventilated, that have been in the ICU because of a COVID infection that are pregnant have been unvaccinated.”
Dr. Miller said studies have shown that there are no fertility-related concerns when it comes to the vaccine.
“One of the studies found that the only fertility-related change was in men who had contracted a COVID-19 infection 60 days prior to a woman’s menstrual cycle,” Dr. Miller said. “We know that COVID can cause a really high fever and that can affect a male’s sperm count. So, it can decrease their chances of conception.”
Dr. Miller encouraged expecting mothers to speak with their health care provider about questions and concerns over COVID-19 and the vaccine.
If you test positive for COVID-19, it’s recommended that you:
- Follow Kentucky’s quarantine guidelines.
- As much as you can, separate yourself from other people in your home. If you are unable to isolate or need supplies to do so safely, please call our helpline for safe housing and essential needs at 502-912-8598.
- Tell your close contacts that they may have been exposed to COVID-19. An infected person can spread COVID-19 starting 48 hours (or two days) before the person has any symptoms or tests positive. By letting your close contacts know they may have been exposed to COVID-19, you are helping to protect everyone.
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.