The month of January has already broken records for Pike County in terms of COVID-19 cases, with record numbers of new cases being reported in the past week.

As of presstime Jan. 11, Pike County’s total number of cases was 3,770, with 1,386 of those being active cases. 2,346 people were considered recovered, and 38 Pike County residents have died from the virus so far. Over the last seven days, from Jan. 4 to Jan. 10, there were 510 newly reported cases of COVID-19 in Pike County, which exceeds any other week in the county since the start of the pandemic.

Pike County Public Health Director Tammy Riley said that the month of January could exceed the county’s previous record-breaking month of December. So far, as of presstime Jan. 11, there have been 637 new cases reported in January, which is greater than the number of cases reported in any month previous to November last year.

“In 10 days in January, we had 510 cases,” Riley said. “If that exponential growth continues, we will have likely over 2,000 cases in January, when we had 1,281 when December landed.”

As of Jan. 10, there were 73 patients currently being hospitalized for COVID-19 in Pike County’s hospitals. Of the 73 total patients, 20 were in the ICU, with 11 of those 20 ICU patients requiring ventilators.

89 percent of the county’s ICU beds and 32 percent of ventilators were being occupied.

While those numbers have not significantly increased, Riley said, the number of emergency room visits over the weekend increased to 160, with 46 of those being COVID-related.

“We are starting to see a slight escalation in ER visits,” she said. “We’re just not quite seeing that escalation in ICU and ventilator occupancy, but we are seeing a surge in cases. There’s absolutely no doubt. Whether that is due to holiday travel and get-togethers or a potentially new variant, we’re not sure, but what I am sure about is that we’re seeing an increase in the number of new daily cases.”

Riley reemphasized that although the number of patients who develop worse symptoms and poorer outcomes from COVID-19 is smaller than the rest of the population, that percentage of people can lead to the overburdening of the healthcare system as the virus continues to spread.

As more patients contract the virus, she explained, there is a greater chance of patients contracting it and possibly developing worse symptoms, which may result in their need to go to the hospital. When a larger number of patients need to receive treatment from the hospital for COVID-19, it can lead to a shortage of available hospital facilities, like available ICU units and ventilators.

Therefore, it is more important than ever, she explained, to take precautions against the virus and protect the community.

“Statistically, 85 percent of individuals who have COVID-19 will either be asymptomatic or have mild symptoms. It’s that 15 percent that gets us into trouble, that 15 percent that get very ill with flu-like or worse symptoms,” Riley said. “The 5 percent that go to the emergency room or land in the hospital, and that smaller percentage that require ICU and ventilator, it’s that 5 percent that can really overburden the healthcare system.”

Regarding vaccinations, Riley said the county is on track with its vaccination plan. She said she continues to feel confident that the Pike County Health Department will reach the state’s desired goal of administering 90 percent of its received vaccine doses within seven days.

“Public Health is working very closely with local hospitals and the Department for Public Health with effectively implementing the vaccination phases in Pike County,” Riley said. “The implementation process is going very smoothly, and I am confident we will continue to meet the state’s goals of getting shots in arms at a 90 percent rate within a seven-day period post-allocation.”

The vaccination phases dictate which specific populations of the public will receive the COVID-19 vaccination at a time. They are determined by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The Kentucky Department for Public Health drafted the state’s vaccination plan based on ACIP’s guidelines and recommendations.

Local COVID-19 data is reported to the Pike County Health Department by local healthcare providers. They follow a stringent reporting process to the state, and each case is thoroughly reviewed. Therefore, the data will not match the state’s COVID-19 informational website, kycovid19.ky.gov.

For more information about Pike County’s cases, visit, www.pikecountyhealth.com. The Pike County Health Department is located at 119 River Drive, and it can be reached at, (606) 437-5500. For more information on the state’s vaccination plan, visit the state’s COVID-19 informational website, kycovid19.ky.gov.

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