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The Pike County Health Department provided information Jan. 21 regarding COVID-19 vaccinations and cases, as well as the higher rates of ICU occupancy that hospitals saw earlier this week.

COVID-19 Vaccines

Pike County Public Health Director Tammy Riley provided updates regarding the county’s ongoing COVID-19 vaccinations. Pike County is currently in Phase 1b of the state’s vaccination plan.

Phase 1b includes first responders, Kentuckians who are 70 years old or older and K-12 school personnel. Phase 1a included long-term care facilities, assisted living facilities and health care personnel. Anyone in Phase 1a and Phase 1b can register to receive a vaccine.

Phase 1c is expected to start around Feb. 1, though the registration process for that phase has not been announced yet. Because of this, the public currently cannot sign up and register to receive a vaccine yet if they are eligible for Phase 1c. Phase 1c includes Kentuckians who are 60 years old or older, anyone older than 16 years-old with highest-risk conditions for COVID-19 (as classified by the CDC) and all frontline essential workers.

“I’m expecting (Phase 1c) to occur around Feb. 1, according to the Kentucky Department for Public Health, but I do not have information for where to go register and for where and when those registration sites will be available,” Riley said. “As soon as I’m made aware, I will make the public aware, and I would

encourage the public to check our website and our social media pages. I will make that available via print and other media outlets as well.”

Now, all Kentuckians 70 years old or older are eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccination, and they are highly encouraged to visit, pmcvaccine.com, to register for vaccinations. Members of K-12 school personnel, Riley said, have a point of contact with their district board offices and superintendents in order to register to receive the vaccination.

All Phase 1a healthcare personnel are also highly encouraged to visit, pmcvaccine.com, in order to register for a vaccination.

According to PMC, the number of vaccines they receive from the state is a limited weekly allocation, and vaccinations will be scheduled and administered based on the order they receive them. Depending on the number of requests, it may take a few weeks before patients are scheduled for an appointment time.

The vaccination phases consist of Phase 1a, Phase 1b, Phase 1c, Phase 2, Phase 3 and Phase 4. Phase 2 includes Kentuckians who are 40 years old or older, Phase 3 includes Kentuckians 16 years old or older and Phase 4 includes children under the age of 16 years old if the vaccine is approved for this age group. The state’s plan was developed based on recommendations from the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

To register for the vaccine for Kentuckians 70 years old or older, visit, pmcvaccine.com. For more information on the CDC’s “high-risk” groups, visit, https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/your-health/need-to-know.html. Any and all information and updates from the Pike County Health Department can also be found at, www.pikecountyhealth.com, or the “Pike County Health Department” Facebook and Twitter accounts.

Cases and hospitalizations

As of presstime Jan. 21, Pike County’s total number of cases was 4,182, with 870 of those being active cases. 3,273 people were considered recovered, and 39 Pike County residents have died from the virus so far, which is one new death since Jan. 18. Over the last seven days, there were 355 newly reported cases of COVID-19 in Pike County, which equates to about 51 new cases reported each day.

“We are seeing a slight dip in the weekly numbers and the average,” said Pike County Public Health Director Tammy Riley. “That’s still at a high level, but certainly lower than we were a week ago.”

However, despite that slight decrease in new cases, the month of January is still expected to surpass all previous months of the pandemic for the number of new cases reported in a single month. Riley reported that, as of Jan. 20, there have been 1,138 new cases reported in the month of January so far, with 11 days remaining.

“We’re on track to exceed probably close to 1,600 cases in January if where we are continues,” Riley said. “To put it in perspective, we had 1,241 (cases) in December and 970 in November. With where we were in the first week of January, I worried that we would exceed 2,000 cases in January. Because the numbers have recently slowed and gone from 80 (cases) a day down to 50-60 a day, we may not see that 2,000.”

Riley described the county’s COVID-19 case numbers as “bouncing” from about 30 cases on Dec. 16 and Dec. 17, to 57 cases on Dec. 18, 62 on Dec. 19 and 59 on Dec. 20. Therefore, she said, the county has seen progress in reducing its cases since the start of January, but it is still necessary for residents to take precautions and not become complacent.

“We’re definitely not out of the danger zone,” Riley said. “We are continuing to see 50-60 cases a day. It’s going from 30 (cases) back up to 60, but I’ve not seen 70 or 80 in over a week. On Jan. 7, we hit an all-time high with 92 cases, only two weeks ago. That was definitely worrisome, but then we have seen some lower days — like, on Jan. 13, for example, it dipped to 41 cases. We started seeing a little bit of a bounce about a week later.”

Earlier this week, Pike County’s hospitals hit 100 percent ICU occupancy around Jan. 17-18, but that rate has since decreased. As of Jan. 19, 89 percent of the county’s ICU beds and 42 percent of ventilators were being occupied.

As of Jan. 19, there were 71 patients currently being hospitalized for COVID-19 in Pike County’s hospitals. Of the 71 total patients, 23 were in the ICU, with 16 of those 23 ICU patients requiring ventilators. Riley added that on Jan. 19, there were 59 COVID-related emergency room visits, out of 157 total emergency room visits.

“We’re still seeing a substantial amount of emergency room visits,” Riley said. “While (ICU occupancy) is down, a few days ago, we did hit 100 percent mark. It’s down to 89 percent. I did speak with the hospitals, and they do have the ability to expand pending staff availability. They currently feel that they have the staffing available.”

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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