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County still in COVID ‘red’

Letcher County’s COVID 19 incident rate is continuing to hang in the red zone, along with a cluster of other nearby counties.

The incident rate as of Tuesday in Letcher County was 26.5, down from 33.8 last week, but the number of deaths attributed to COVID are up four to 70 as of Tuesday.

The Letcher County incident rate is still lower than the other counties in the cluster. Perry County’s rate was 41.6, Harlan’s was 41.7, and Leslie’s was 41.9.

To the north, Pike County’s incident rate was 24.9 and Knott County’s was 15.4.

Vaccinations have not yet begun here for children under the age of 12. For all persons 12 and over, 49 percent in Letcher County are fully vaccinated and 59.3 percent of adults here are fully vaccinated.

The highest rate of vaccinations is among the elderly. Among persons 65 and over in Letcher County, 73.5 percent are now fully vaccinated. Experts say that’s about the percentage of the total population that needs to be vaccinated to achieve herd immunity.

With the percentage vaccinated in each age group increasing at only about a percent a week, it will still be months before Letcher County reaches that level.

Having had the virus offers at least some protection, but according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, persons who have had the vaccine are half as likely to be infected as those who previously had the virus. While having a disease acquired immunity does not appear to be as effective as the shot, the latest study by the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Disease shows the immune benefits last at least as long.

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