COVID continues into the new year; LCHD focuses on increasing vaccination rate

Published 12:27 pm Thursday, January 13, 2022

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STANFORD – Despite major vaccination efforts and social limitations over the last two years, COVID-19 continues to dominate headlines in 2022.

Lincoln County Health Department Director Diane Miller said the New Year did not bring an end to the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead, Lincoln County is seeing a rise in the number of local cases as the Omicron variant – the fastest spreading variant so far during the pandemic – makes its way across the Bluegrass.

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Lincoln County did see a decline in the number of cases near the end of 2021, compared to the beginning of the year, Miller said, but cases are rising once again.

“At the end of the year of 2021, the total number of cases was 4,664, cases,” she said.

Miller said as of Jan. 10 there were 225 active COVID-19 cases reported in Lincoln County. Last year at this time there were 145 cases, she said.

“You can see that there is a difference there in the number of cases compared to last year,” Miller said.

There were 58 reported COVID-19 related deaths in 2021, according to LCHD.

So far this year, three deaths have been reported.

Miller said she is once again suggesting that the public put control measures back in place such as washing hands regularly, wearing a mask in public places and limiting social gatherings.

“The new variant is around and it is more transmittable,” she said. “Individuals need to do what we’ve been doing because now we are a red county.”

Miller said the LCHD is concentrating on increasing vaccination rates.

As of Jan. 10, 44.62%, or 10,825 individuals in Lincoln County, had received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, and 39.5%, or 9,661, were fully vaccinated.

“I would like to see that number increase dramatically,” Miller said.

On the state level, 63.52% have been vaccinated with at least one dose and 54.99% have been fully vaccinated. “We’re encouraging masks in public settings and, of course, social distancing and we need to consider looking at any community gatherings that might be happening and especially postponing large events,” she said. “The medically vulnerable individuals need to avoid large crowds.”

Miller is asking local businesses and organizations to follow those guidelines.

“It’s especially important when we’re trying to keep school in session, in-person learning,” she said. “Also, we need to think about our long-term care center so you can still be able to visit your loved ones.”

While the LCHD focused largely on complete contract tracing the first two years of the pandemic, now that adults are able to receive vaccinations, the focus has shifted to school-aged children.

“With the adult population going to the notification system where we give them the guidelines and information in regards to COVID and what they can do to protect themselves and others – the concentration has been on working with the school system with positive cases of students and staff and working with the long term care facility,” Miller said.

As of Jan. 10 there were three or four new cases of COVID-19 at the Stanford Care and Rehabilitation facility, she said.

“We just need to be diligent,” she said. “This is our new normal and we just have to adjust to it.”

Miller said the health department continues to offer COVID-19 vaccines and individuals interested can call 606-365-3106 or their health provider for more information.

The health department is also encouraging the public to receive a flu shot this year.

“They’re calling it ‘flu-rona’,” Miller said. “There have been some instances where people have tested positive for COVID-19 and the flu.”