Seasonal respiratory illness in Kentucky has declined for three weeks, but the numbers are still considered elevated

Published 10:54 am Monday, January 29, 2024

By Melissa Patrick, Kentucky Health News

Emergency-department visits and hospital admissions for respiratory disease in Kentucky have dropped for three weeks in a row, but the Kentucky Department for Public Health still considers the rate of respiratory virus activity to be elevated and the number of hospitalizations to be high.  

Respiratory illness-related ED visits have dropped 47% since the last week of 2023, when the health department showed the highest number of ED visits during this respiratory-illness season, 6,147. 

In the three weeks since, there has been a steady decline in such visits, dropping to 3,243 visits in the week ended Jan. 20.

Of those, 2,379 were for flu, down 15% from the week prior; 663 were for Covid-19, down 30% from the week prior; and 201 were for respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), down 38% from the week prior.

Hospital admissions associated with respiratory disease have also dropped steadily for three weeks in a row, to 530. That’s down 47% from the season’s high of 1,002 in the week ended Dec. 30.  

In the latest report, 236 admissions were for Covid-19, down 33% from the week prior; 216 were for flu, down 22% from the week prior; and 78 were for RSV, down 27% from the week prior. 

Kentucky has no counties with high Covid-19 hospital admission rates in the week ended Jan. 20, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. However, it does have 24 counties with between 10 and 20 Covid-19 hospitalizations per 100,000 people, a rate the CDC considers “medium.” These are largely in the easternmost part of the state and in a strip down the middle of the state.  

In the week ended Jan. 20, the state reported 2,042 laboratory-confirmed cases of Covid-19, down 32% from the prior week. It reported 2,745 lab-confirmed cases of the flu, down 16% from the week prior.  

Among children 4 and younger, the number of respiratory-illnessemergency-department visits also dropped for the last three weeks, to 697 in the week ended Jan. 20. That’s down 53% from a season-high of 1,489 on Dec. 30. 

In the latest report, 471 vists of those 4 and younger were for flu, down 11% from the week prior; 125 were for RSV, down 33% from the prior week; and 101 were for Covid-19, down 30%.

Respiratory-related hospitalizations for children 4 and younger have dropped for six weeks in a row, down to 38 in the week ended Jan. 20 from a season-high of 134 in the week ended Dec. 16, a drop of 72%

In the latest report, 18 of the hospitalizations were for RSV, down 44% from the week prior; 12 were for flu, down 48% from the week prior;  and 8 were for Covid-19, 2 more than the week prior. 

Hospital visits also dropped among children 5 through 17, with 633 respiratory-related ED visits reported in the week ended Jan. 20, down 18% from the week prior. 

In the latest report, 565 of the yoith visits were for flu, a drop of nearly 19%; 54 were for Covid-19; and 14 were for RSV. The Covid-19 and RSV numbers have fluctuated little for several weeks 

The number of ED visits in this age group has declined from a high of 1,000 in the week ended Dec. 23, but it has not been a steady decline; there were nine hospitalizations in the week ended Jan. 20 among children aged 5-17, the same as the week before 

Of those, seven were for flu, up one from the prior week; one was for Covid-19, down from three the week prior; and one was for RSV, up from none the prior week. 

Since the first week in October, 236 Kentuckians have died from Covid-19 and eight have died from the flu. One of the Covid-19 deaths and one of the flu deaths have been children. 

In the week ended Jan. 6, there were two Covid-19 deaths and one flu death reported in Kentucky. These numbers follow two weeks where the state saw 23 Covid-19 deaths during each week.