covid

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Coronavirus cases in Kentucky and Indiana are going down, but death tolls are ticking up in both states.

Dr. Jason Smith, the chief medical officer for UofL Health, believes both sets of data can be linked back to a surge in infections after the holidays.

"The reason the cases are decreasing is because the total number of tests is decreasing," Smith said. 

A drop in cases, Smith said, is due to people not getting tested as frequently as they were around the holidays, when they were traveling or seeing family and friends, as well as COVID-19 fatigue.

"People are saying, 'Well, if I've got this, I may as well just stay home and not get tested,'" he said.

Although Indiana and Kentucky are reporting drops in COVID-19 positivity rates, both states have reported an uptick in virus-related deaths. Kentucky on Monday reported 40 more deaths in which the virus was a contributing factor, which means the Commonwealth has now reported 30 or more deaths every day since Jan. 20. Indiana reported 67 more deaths Sunday, which is 18 more than it did on Friday and 30 more than Thursday.

Dr. Smith links that to the post holiday surge, too.

"We still have a lot of people who were in the hospital for a number of weeks, and those are the ones who start to fill out the death certificates for later on," he said. "Deaths are going to lag the presentation of illness. So the deaths you are seeing now (are) the people got COVID in or around the holidays."

With no holidays coming up and travel at a minimum, Smith is hopeful it's the start of a positive change in numbers but isn't ready to call it a trend just yet.

"I need to see this for multiple weeks," he said. "If we're still having this conversation in the first weeks of March, still seeing a decline in numbers, still seeing a decline in positivity rate, a decline in hospitalizations, then I'll be much more happy and optimistic that this is something that will be that is going to be sustained for a period of time."

Vaccinating those over the age of 70, those most at risk of dying from COVID-19, will also help, said Smith, who hopes Louisville will reach that milestone by March.

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