Covid-19 vaccine

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- After weeks of decline, COVID-19 cases in Kentucky are creeping up again.

The numbers are nowhere near the levels seen in the worst of the pandemic, but the state’s positivity rate is rising. On July 1, Kentucky reported a positivity rate of 1.99%. One week later, on July 8, the rate stood at 2.92%. On Wednesday, July 14, the rate was 3.81%.

Dr. Jason Smith of UofL Health told WDRB News the problem is two-fold: Only about half of Kentuckians are fully vaccinated, and the Delta variant is on the rise. It is five- to ten-times more contagious than the regular virus.

“It's gone from being less than 1% about four weeks ago to 25% of the cases we are currently seeing,” Smith said.

It is a similar story in Indiana, where the positivity rate has gone from 1.90% on June 21 to 4.3% on July 15.

Smith said most of the new infections are in younger people. He hopes that as the first day of school approaches, more of them will get the vaccine.

“As school gets closer, and kids start getting more in contact with other kids, (I hope) the parents will elect to get the vaccine that they need," he said.

Business was steady at a vaccination clinic staged Thursday by Norton Healthcare at Valley High School.

“Especially with kids getting back to school, being in closer quarters, we want to get everybody vaccinated and keep everybody safe,” nurse practitioner Julie Schmied said.

Samirah Al Khafaji, 17, said she hesitated for weeks to get the shot but was motivated by the thought of returning to school.

“I don't want to wear a mask and I don't want to get sick being back here with everybody,” she said.

Neither UofL Health nor Norton Healthcare are reporting an increase in hospitalizations from the virus. Smith said younger people with COVID-19 tend to be more resilient. But he is concerned that if cases continue to rise with fall approaching, more people will get seriously ill.

“It hurts inside, after all we've done, to see people dying from this disease when we've got a treatment that could help it," he said.

Copyright 2021 WDRB Media. All Rights Reserved.