Local officials met virtually Tuesday to discuss the rising number of COVID-19 cases in Owensboro-Daviess County. Just before that meeting began, the Green River District Health Department announced that 141 new cases were reported in Daviess County between July 23-26.
During the meeting, GRDHD Director Clay Horton said there had already been 108 cases reported for the seven-county Green River District since Monday morning.
Horton was joined in the meeting by Daviess County Judge-Executive Al Mattingly, Owensboro Mayor Tom Watson, and Owensboro Health Regional Hospital Executive Vice President Dr. Francis DuFrayne.
The number of cases has doubled each of the last two weeks, something the Health Department has never seen before according to Horton. He also said most cases are among people who are not vaccinated for COVID-19.
DuFrayne said that the hospital currently is housing 19 patients with COVID-19. Of those, 17 are unvaccinated. The Delta variant is easier to spread and symptoms tend to show up sooner and stronger than the “original” Alpha strand, DuFrayne said.
DuFrayne said that OHRH takes positive tests at random and forwards them to the state lab to learn if the patient has the Delta variant or a different variant strain. By doing so, DuFrayne said this allows the hospital to learn what the rate of growth in the area is, and they plan to continue as long as insurgence is going on.
Based on results and the growth of the Delta strand, DuFrayne said Delta is proving to be a “potent” strand.
“It’s a little concerning that coronavirus — and most respiratory viruses — are winter viruses, and the fact that we’re here at the end of July with this surge, it’s really concerning,” DuFrayne said.
Mattingly said that as of Tuesday afternoon, 44% of Daviess County is vaccinated — including 53% of those 18 years and older. He noted that when any vaccinated individual comes in contact with a strand of COVID-19, they tend to have a lower chance of having strong symptoms.
DuFrayne said that 87.5% of people admitted to the hospital with COVID-19 symptoms are unvaccinated. DuFrayne also said every death in Owensboro related to COVID-19 in the last couple of months was of an unvaccinated patient.
“You look at things like morbidity, how sick you get from it, and mortality — those who die — those numbers are significantly lower than people who have not received the vaccine,” DuFrayne said. “So you’re going to have some breakthrough cases — we’re well aware of that, we still keep an eye out for it — but the vaccine really does help those patients if they happen to get [COVID-19].”
Both DuFrayne and Horton said there are different places in the community to receive a vaccine. Vaccinations appointments at OHRH can be scheduled on their website.
Both Mattingly and Watson have not closed their respective meetings to the public but will make it known should they have to.
All four officials encouraged the community to get vaccinated to help with the cases in the area.
Horton also encouraged businesses and churches to support their employees in getting them vaccinated as it’s in their “best interest.”
While cases still rise, Horton said people should be wearing masks to protect themselves.
Horton said he does not agree with the plans that school districts have released for their start of the coming school year. He has talked with superintendents in the area and encouraged them to follow CDC guidance.
“Given the level of transmission in our community, I think we all could benefit from taking that extra step being a little bit extra cautious,” Horton said.