LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) — While COVID cases and hospitalizations are increasing across Kentucky, some doctors are noticing key differences between the cases they’re seeing now compared to the beginning of the pandemic.
“We don’t have those massively severe respiratory diseases like we saw previously,” Dr. Jason Smith, chief medical officer for UofL Health, said. “I think that’s the biggest change in exposure and vaccination rates across this commonwealth.”
That doesn’t mean people aren’t getting sick though — Smith said almost all of UofL’s locations have had patients coming in symptomatic and in need of a test.
Jefferson County is currently in the medium category for level of community spread of COVID, while 587 Kentuckians were hospitalized statewide with COVID in the last week. Out of those patients, 78 were being treated in the ICU, while 18 were on ventilators.
“It’s really a spectrum of people. So it’s not it’s not like it was previously where we saw a lot of older individuals,” he said. “What we’re seeing now is really people from multiple different age groups coming into the hospital.”
Smith said most of the current patients are those who have a current medical condition that has been exacerbated by COVID — and very few end up in the ICU.
University of Louisville Hospital currently has 52 patients, six of which are being treated in the ICU.
“That in and of itself tells us that at least what we’re seeing is a much lower peak than we saw previously,” he said. “And a much less severe disease than we had seen previously compared to what we’ve been dealing with really for the past two years.”
Amid the spread, Louisville Metro Department of Public Health and Wellness officials are currently focusing their contract tracing on congregate settings, like shelter and daycares.
The department is also offering free testing sites in Louisville communities that have higher positivity rates and lower than average vaccination rates.
Smith said while the trends doctors are seeing are less severe — the recent cases are relatively widespread and he encourages the public to continue taking precautions.
“Particularly as we head back to school…make sure you still stay washing your hands and making sure your vaccines are up to date and all the mitigation strategies that we’ve been trying to do for the last couple of years,” Smith said.
Plans are in the works to potentially open more testing sites across Louisville. To find a testing site near you, click here.
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