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COVID rate falls here as deaths now total 76

The incident rate for COVID- 19 in Letcher County is now at 25.2, lower than a week ago and barely high enough to keep the county in the virus’ red zone.

But, while the rate of infections is getting lower, a new variant of the virus called Omicron is spreading around the world and scientists say it is virtually certain to be in the United States already, despite efforts to stop travel from hotspots such as South Africa. It has already been confirmed in Canada and at least 15 other nations.

Omicron is the seventh “variant of concern” and the 13th variant of the SARS-CoV2 virus, which causes COVID-19. While the new variant has spread very quickly across southern Africa and in other countries, doctors are not yet sure whether it will do the same in the United States. They expect that vaccinations already given will offer some protection against Omicron, though how much isn’t certain. Doctors in South Africa, however, say the new variant is very mild in comparison to previous versions.

About 99 percent of COVID 19 cases in the United States are now caused by the Delta variant, and it is not clear whether the new variant can replace it.

The latest statistics for Letcher County show there have been 76 deaths here from COVID, and 4,121 persons here have had the virus.

Vaccinations are up also. Nearly half of all people in the county have been fully vaccinated now (49.8 percent) and 54.6 have had at least one shot. Fifty-four point six percent have had at least one shot.

Among those 12 and over, the number rises to 58.1 fully vaccinated with 63.2 percent having had at least one shot.

Among adults ages 18 and up, the percentage of fully vaccinated people is 60.2 percent with 65.2 percent having at least one shot. Those 65 and over, the first group to receive the vaccine, have the highest percentage of vaccinated here with 73.8 fully vaccinated and 76.7 percent having at least one shot.

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