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COVID-19 rate is slowly creeping back up here

The COVID-19 rate in Letcher County is slowly creeping back up after dropping into the yellow over the weekend for the first time since last summer.

On Sunday the incident rate dropped to 9.3 cases per 100,000, but increased every day since then. By Tuesday evening, the rate was back to 15.9, still far lower than it has been for months.

Meanwhile, the number of COVID cases here stood at 1,658 on Tuesday, up from 1,610 last Tuesday evening.The COVID rate is a seven-day rolling average of cases divided by the total population and multiplied by 100,000.

While cases are much lower than they have been and the vaccine rollout is ramping up rapidly, experts are warning Americans not to be complacent. There are still new variants of the virus that are more easily transmitted than the original virus for which vaccines were designed, and there is not enough data to determine whether the vaccines are as effective on these new variants as they are for the original virus.

So far, 165 school districts in the state – including Letcher County and Jenkins Independent – have returned to some type of in-person classes. Gov. Andy Beshear issued an executive order yesterday Tuesday, mandating that everyone wear a mask while at school, that schools avoid changing classes (in order to avoid large numbers of students in hallways) and lunch be arranged so students are with the same group they are with the remainder of the day. School districts must also continue offering meaningful virtual learning that does not discriminate against students who remain at home.

Though the order lays out strict rules for in-person classes, Beshear also urged districts that aren’t now offering in-person instruction to begin seven days after all staff have been vaccinated. He said some districts have chosen 14 days, and he said that is the choice of each district.The return to school is a request, Beshear said, but is not part of the executive order.

COVID-19 statistics for Letcher and the surrounding counties as of Tuesday are as follows:

Knott – Total 1,020 (15
dead, incident rate 28.0)

Leslie – Total 774 (2
dead, incident rate 28.9)
Letcher – Total 1,658 (18
dead, incident rate 15.9)
Owsley – Total 409 (10
dead, incident rate 22.6)
Perry – Total 2,244 (33
dead, incident rate 26.6)
Wolfe – Total 420 (4
dead, incident rate 10.0)
Harlan – Total 2,369 (68
dead, 20.3 incident rate )
Pike – Total 5,056 (57
dead, incident rate 30.4)
Wise Co., VA – Total
2,825 (146 hospitalized,
85 dead)
Norton, VA – Total 237
(16 hospitalized, 6 dead)

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