Emergency-department visits and hospitalizations for respiratory illness in Kentucky were down slightly from last week’s uptick

By Melissa Patrick
Kentucky Health News
While still considered high, Kentucky hospitalizations for respiratory disease dropped 15% in the week ending Feb. 17 after increasing in the previous week.
The state Department for Public Health‘s weekly respiratory-illness report says 454 Kentuckians were hospitalized during the week, with big drops in all three respiratory viruses the state tracks — flu, Covid-19 and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV).However, even with an 11% drop in Covid-19 hospitalizations, 15 Kentucky counties had a Covid-19 hospitalization rate between 10 and 10.9 per 100,000 people, considered an elevated or medium rate by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and four Kentucky counties continued to have high rates of Covid-19 hospitalizations: Elliott, Menifee, Morgan and Rowan, all with rates of 21.2 per 100,000.
The counties with medium rates of Covid-19 hospital admissions were Pike and Letcher, in far eastern Kentucky; Daviess, McLean, Ohio and Hancock, in western Kentucky; and Ballard, Carlisle, Crittenden, Graves, Hickman, Livingston, Lyon, Marshall and McCracken, in far west Kentucky.
Emergency-department visits for respiratory illness in Kentucky dropped 4% in the week ended Feb. 17, to 3,481. The biggest drop was among patients with RSV (down 27%), followed by a drop in Covid-19 visits (down 12%).
ED visits by 5- to 17-year-olds leveled off, largely because flu visits, while still high, leveled off. During the week, 880 children in this group visited EDs for flu.
Both flu and Covid-19 saw slight drops in laboratory-confirmed cases in the week ended Feb. 17. Lab-confirmed flu cases dropped to 3,860 and lab-confirmed Covid-19 cases dropped to 2,430.
Since the respiratory-illness season began the first week in October, 361 Kentuckians have died from Covid-19, and 51 from the flu, according to the health department. One Covid-19 victim and one flu victim have been children.
It’s important to remember that flu and Covid-19 related deaths are reported in the week they happened, which can create an uptick in these numbers on any given week even though the deaths did not happen in that week.
For example, this week’s report shows an increase of 34 Covid-19 deaths and an increase of 23 flu deaths over the last report even though no new deaths were reported in the week ended Feb. 17.

Kentucky Health News is an independent news service of the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues, based in the School of Journalism and Media at the University of Kentucky, with support from the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky.

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