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New COVID-19 variant has spared county so far

Letcher County and Kentucky as a whole have so far not been impacted greatly by the highly contagious omicron variant of SARS-CoV2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

Statewide, there are about 40 new deaths a day, which Gov. Andy Beshear this week attributed to the delta variant still being dominant here. Omicron does not appear to be as severe as delta, despite being much more contagious. In Letcher County, the official number of people who have died from COVID-19’s three main variants is now at 86, up five since last week.

Beshear said there has been a “significant uptick” in the number of people who have had booster shots, a key in combatting the virus and even more important for omicron, which has gone from a single known case three weeks ago to the dominant strain of the virus nationwide.

“When it hits, if the cases go way up, we’re really going to have to start looking more at hospitalization rather than cases,” Beshear said.

Beshear said vaccinations are increasing, with more than 73 percent of adults in Kentucky now being vaccinated. Letcher County still lags behind with just 61 percent of adults fully vaccinated.

Overall, 50.8 percent of people in Letcher County are fully vaccinated, and 53.9 percent of those five years old and above. In the 12-and-above age group, 58.9 percent are fully vaccinated. In the 65-and-over group, 74.1 percent are fully vaccinated with 77.3 percent having received at least one shot.

Also in Letcher County, the seven-day average of new cases is falling. As of Tuesday evening, the incident rate in Letcher County was 35.1 cases per 100,000, down from 57.7 a week earlier. Since the beginning of the pandemic, 4,477 cases of COVID-19 have been reported in Kentucky, about 21 percent of the population.

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