Kentucky largely remains in the red despite changes to CDC’s COVID guidelines
LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - Based on the latest CDC data, the Associated Press reports that more than 70% of the US population is at low or medium levels of COVID-19 threat. But the vast majority of counties across the commonwealth remain at high levels.
On Friday, the CDC announced new guidelines for communities when it comes to COVID. The new system puts an emphasis on the impact COVID is having on hospitals, in addition to monitoring the incidence rate.
The new COVID-19 community levels are based on three metrics: cases per 100,000 people, followed by hospitalizations per 100,000 and the percentage of hospital beds being used by COVID-19 patients. Dr. Jeff Foxx, a Lexington physician, says the new guidelines are appropriate at this stage of the pandemic.
”The guidelines are a way to manage our hospital use, our healthcare use,” said Dr. Foxx.
The new measures have resulted in relaxed recommendations for most healthy Americans, particularly when it comes to masking.
”It’s a great change for the positive,” Dr. Foxx said. “Everybody’s relieved to see case counts coming down, to recognize the fact that we are in a better place”
But almost all of Kentucky remains at a high level, and in these areas, the CDC still recommends wearing masks indoors in public spaces.
”In the next week or two, I think we’re going to be like the rest of the country,” said Dr. Foxx. “Hopefully we’re going to be there.”
Dr. Foxx thinks we’re simply lagging behind, in part because of having a later omicron surge than other states.
“If in two or three weeks, we still are where we are, then what is the problem?” Dr. Foxx said.
But even when we reach the low levels here in Kentucky, Dr. Foxx advises you to not ditch the masks entirely.
”If you have symptoms or a recent exposure, you ought to wear a mask,” said Dr. Foxx. “If you’re at high risk or you know you are going to be around someone who is at high risk, you might want to wear a mask.”
Dr. Foxx noted that the percentage of staffed beds with COVID-19 patients is a metric that could complicate the move out of high community levels, with a hard hit healthcare system and nurses in short supply. He pointed out that, for example, a certain hospital may have 10 beds available - but only a few of those beds can actually be staffed by nurses.
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