Weekly COVID-19 update from the Department of Public Health and Wellness

September 30, 2020

During the city’s weekly COVID-19 update, Mayor Greg Fischer and Public Health and Wellness leaders said Louisville’s COVID-19 cases are steadily increasing again.

“Our alert status remains in the orange level, but our daily incidence of cases is quickly inching closer to red,” said Bill Altman, a consultant who is leading the city’s COVID-19 testing strategy.

An orange alert level includes a combination of data metrics, but most notably means there are 10-25 positive cases per 100,000 people per day, based on the most recent 7-day average.  

Louisville’s current rate is 20.6 cases per 100,000 people per day. The prior week it was 16.13.

“We are trending in the wrong direction,” Altman said.

“We know what works to stop the spread of COVID-19,” said Mayor Fischer. “Wearing masks, washing hands, avoiding large crowds or crowded places, remembering that outside is generally safer than inside, and working with our contact tracers. If we do all of that, then our cases will go down, and that will take us closer to one of our community goals, shared by people of all ages across our city – getting our kids back to school for in-person classes.”

Here are the key data metrics for the week of September 23 – 29, 2020:

  • COVID-19 cases increased over the previous week for a total of 1,106 cases.
  • Louisville’s rolling two-week average positivity rate is at 5.5 percent.
  • Hospitalization data:
    • 8% of patients currently hospitalized have COVID-19.
    • 24 patients in ICU with COVID-19 as of September 29.
    • 20 COVID-19 patients on ventilators as of September 29.
  • Cases continue to be in every Louisville ZIP code with higher numbers in west and south Louisville

According to Altman, there is a health equity component to COVID-19. There is a higher impact relative to the population size for both Black and Hispanic communities.  

COVID-19 Testing Capacity

According to Altman, there is ample testing capacity currently. Turnaround time for COVID-19 testing has decreased dramatically with an ability to get results back in less than 48 hours.

“Recently, the supply of testing has outweighed the demand,” he said. “It’s important that we do not fall into complacency about COVID-19. Please get tested if you have symptoms, are at high risk or if you have been exposed to someone who recently tested positive.”

COVID-19 and Children, Young Adults

The city is still learning more about the data involving COVID-19 in children according to Dr. Lori Caloia, Medical Director for the Louisville Metro Department of Public Health and Wellness.

“Young adults may have mild to no symptoms at all which contribute to the spread of illness in the community,” she said. “They are less likely to follow prevention strategies such as social distancing and avoiding large gatherings.”

Children also tend to have mild disease, and reflect similar patterns of overall disease, with severe disease and COVID-related deaths impacting children in Black and Hispanic populations disproportionately nation-wide.

On Friday, Dr. Pollio, Jefferson County Public Schools superintendent, offered his plans for getting students back into school. He said a decision on resuming in-person instruction depends on whether our community reaches the yellow or green alert level.

Dr. Caloia noted that the situation is complex. “In order to reach the yellow zone, we would have to cut our number of cases in half from where we currently are,” she said. “It’s up to each of us to make personal choices about the activities we participate in to limit exposure and stop the spread of the virus.”

Dr. Caloia encouraged everyone to continue to wear masks, social distance and be cautious about interacting with others. “Parents play a large role by reinforcing these things with their children and modeling appropriate hand sanitation as well,” she added.

Contact Tracing

To date, the LMPHW contact tracing team has closed more than 16,000 cases for people who tested positive for COVID-19. Today there 1,100 in “assessment” status and 800 people in “isolation” status – people who have tested positive and are at home isolating.

Karen Handmaker, COVID-19 contact tracing coordinator, said largely people are reporting their contacts as household members, an intimate partner or co-workers.

The LOU HEALTH HELPLINE has had 1,196 calls to date with 322 calls reporting potential positive cases. Other calls pertain to work-related questions, how to get tested and complaints on exposure.

Some of the challenges with contact tracing is cases that come through without a phone number. Handmaker said the number of contacts without a phone number is as high as 40%.

“Please provide your correct phone number when you get tested,” she added. “We want to be able to connect with you to see how you’re doing, to answer any questions you may have, and to make sure you have what you need to safely quarantine at home.”

Executive Order

Yesterday, Mayor Fischer signed Executive Order 2020-018 extending the state of emergency related to the COVID-19 pandemic to October 31, 2020.

 

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To view the entire COVID-19 weekly update with Mayor Fischer and 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.louisvilleky.gov/covid19The LOU HEALTH COVID19 Helpline is also available: 502- 912-8598.