The Pike County Health Department provided an update during a recent Pike Board of Health meeting on Sept. 14 regarding the county’s COVID-19 situation, which officials described as being “unstable.”

The PCHD shared that four additional residents of Pike County have died from COVID-19, which makes 134 Pike County residents who have died from COVID-19 so far. Pike County Public Health Director Tammy Riley said that there are currently 25 deaths of Pike County residents that are being investigated as being caused by COVID-19. However, the deaths need to be confirmed by a state board.

Pike County’s mortality rate for COVID-19 is currently 1.4 percent, which is slightly above Kentucky’s mortality rate of 1.3 percent. The United States’ mortality rate for COVID-19 is 1.6 percent, according to John Hopkins University of Medicine.

In addition, PCHD reported that, as of Sept. 14, the county had 958 reported active cases of COVID-19, and these cases account for about 10.4 percent of the county’s 9,206 total cases, which have been reported since the start of the pandemic.

“Our positivity rate remains fairly high, at 18.55 percent,” Riley said. “That’s just for the last seven days. And, in the last seven days, we’ve had 536 cases, which reflects 132.3 cases per day per 100,000 (population), for a raw average of 76.6.”

According to the PCHD, the number of newly reported COVID-19 cases has slightly decreased from 644 cases reported by Aug. 15 — the peak of the latest surge — down to 501 new cases reported by Sept. 12. Despite this decrease, Riley said that the numbers continue to be unstable and they could begin to increase if the county is not careful.

“Since last weekend, it has bounced,” Riley said, regarding the county’s number of new daily cases. “We’ll get 105 one day and 45, 55, 134, 75, then 80. It’s just bouncing. What epidemiologists will tell you is, when it’s bouncing like that, you’re unstable. You could go quickly up or quickly down. We’re praying that it will continue to go down.”

Regarding hospitalizations, Pikeville Medical Center reported on Sept. 16 that there were 92 patients hospitalized with COVID-19. Of those 92 patients, 71 were unvaccinated, and 21 patients were fully vaccinated. PMC reported that 23 patients were in the ICU, with 19 of those patients being unvaccinated and only four patients being fully vaccinated. In addition, PMC reported that 11 patients required mechanical ventilation.

People who are unvaccinated from COVID-19 continue to be hospitalized and experience greater rates of severe illness more than vaccinated people. In Kentucky, there were 5,698 hospitalizations from March 1 to Aug. 31 this year. Of those hospitalizations, 5,217 of those patients were unvaccinated from COVID-19 (91.56 percent), while only 481 patients were vaccinated (8.44 percent), according to the Kentucky Hospital Association.

To be fully vaccinated, a patient must receive both doses of the two-dose Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, or receive the single dose of the Johnson&Johnson vaccine, and wait two weeks before engaging in normal social activities in order to maintain the vaccine’s high effectiveness.

People are highly encouraged to receive a COVID-19 vaccination, regardless of whether or not they have had COVID-19. If a person has contracted COVID-19 is showing symptoms, they should wait to get vaccinated until they have recovered from their illness and are able to end their isolation period. Those without symptoms should also wait until they end their isolation period before getting vaccinated. This also applies to people who get COVID-19 before getting their second dose of the vaccine. If a person has been treated with monoclonal antibodies or convalescent plasma, they should wait 90 days before getting a COVID-19 vaccine, according to the CDC.

Everyone who is 12 years old and older can receive a COVID-19 vaccine, and the Federal Drug Administration fully approved the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine on Aug. 23 for people 16 years old or older. No vaccines have been approved for children between 5 and 11 years old in the U.S. yet. Please contact your local healthcare provider for more information about vaccines and contact your preferred pharmacy regarding available vaccines.

Along with vaccinations, the public is highly urged to wear masks whenever they are in public to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19, as well as frequently wash their hands, clean frequently touched surfaces and areas and practice social distancing.

If a person has tested positive for COVID-19, they should isolate themselves for 10 days from the date the symptoms began or from the date they had their test done. This includes people who test positive and who are (and are not) showing symptoms for the virus. If a person has been in close contact with someone diagnosed with COVID-19, they are recommended to quarantine for 10 days from their last exposure. For more information on COVID-19 testing sites, visit, kycovid19.ky.gov, or call Kentucky’s official COVID-19 hotline, (800)722-5725.