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Coronavirus case counts dropping in Purchase area counties


A reported down-tick in COVID-19 case numbers is happening as hospitals across the U.S. have seen a 16% decrease in weekly reported cases. The Purchase District Health Department, in far western Kentucky, is no different.

The eight-county Purchase Area – Ballard, Calloway, Carlisle, Fulton, Graves, Hickman, Marshall and McCracken counties – is home to more than 80,000 residents. Cases spiked early in the year in McCracken County with a daily average of 181 confirmed cases reported on Jan. 26, according to statistics provided by the Purchase District Health Department. The average number of cases per day gradually dropped with 134 cases reported on Feb. 3. The report on Mar. 16 showed an average of just six cases per day.

Twenty-two active cases were reported on March 18 in the Purchase District, which includes Ballard, Carlisle, Fulton, Hickman and McCracken counties.

PDHD director Kent Koster says the amount of cases is a sign that the pandemic is receding, but that certain groups, such as adults over 65 years old, are still vulnerable. Koster says he encourages everyone to get vaccinated or receive a booster if they have not already.

“(Omicron) is highly transmissible,” Koster said. “We are beginning to see some waning with the new vaccine. Mask mandates are being relaxed. How can you not expect an increase in cases with those three things?”

Koster says people are more likely to contract COVID as time progresses from when they received their vaccination and if they did not receive a booster. He says people that have been vaccinated or recently had COVID will start to lose their antibodies after a certain period of time. He says that the medical community is anticipating annual vaccinations for COVID in the future.

“We told the public that once we reached that spike we would see a decline,” Koster said. “That is what happened.”

Though cases have dropped, K-12 schools and early childhood education are still required to adhere to Kentucky Department for Public Health (KDPH) guidance. According to KDPH The Purchase District is currently classified as low in COVID-19 cases.

This means mask wearing is only based on the individual preference. Groups of people in indoor settings such as schools and businesses are required to wear a mask only if there has been an exposure.

These regulations come as many communities in the U.S. lift their mandates in accordance with new CDC guidance.

The Purchase District Health Department constantly prepares for possible new COVID variants to spread. Koster says the new omicron variant BA.2 which has taken hold in different parts of the globe has caused concerns due to its high transmissibility – 50% more transmissible than the BA.1 variant. The Ba2 may cause another spike in the Purchase District but it won’t be nearly as high as previous ones.

Koster says the biggest challenge from the pandemic has been misinformation and distrust with medicine. He says the one thing from the past two years he would have done differently is get everyone on the same page.

“Every COVID case comes through my office,” Koster says. “When I tell people they need to get their vaccine I show them the data. Between 80% and 90% of people who are admitted into the hospital for COVID have not received their vaccine which means the vaccine is working.”

For more information on COVID-19 and vaccinations visit the Purchase District Health Department.

Mason Galemore is a Murray State student studying journalism. He was the editor-in-chief of his high school newspaper. Since then has explored different publication avenues such as broadcasting. He hopes to travel as a journalist documenting conflict zones and different cultures. He remembers watching the Arab Spring in 2011 via the news when he was a kid, which dawned in a new age of journalism grounded in social media. His favorite hobbies are hiking, photography, reading, writing and playing with his Australian Shepard, Izzy. He is originally from Charleston, Missouri.
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