Kentucky nursing home, jail hit by COVID-19 outbreaks in area with low vaccine rates

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A COVID-19 cluster at the Clay County Detention Center has grown, the Cumberland Valley District Health Department reported Monday.

The department reported 50 new cases among inmates, compared to 19 new cases the week before, said Tyra Barett, harm reduction coordinator for the health department, which covers Clay, Jackson and Rockcastle counties.

The latest numbers were for the period covering July 24 to July 30. In addition to the 50 new cases among inmates, the department reported that 23 inmates had recovered.

There were no deaths reported among inmates.

The department also is dealing with a new outbreak of cases at the Jackson Manor Nursing Home in Jackson County. There were 11 residents and 11 staff members positive, the department reported Monday.

That was a new cluster that surfaced last week, Barrett said.

Barrett said the two clusters were the first seen in the district in the last two to three months. There have been no recent deaths at nursing homes in the district despite the recent increase in cases.

The Kaiser Family Foundation reported Monday that with vaccination efforts, deaths at long-term care facilities in Kentucky and other states — which were hot spots early in the pandemic — were low in recent months.

Still, health officials are concerned because the latest strain of the virus, the Delta strain, spreads more easily and can cause more severe problems, and because vaccination rates in many Kentucky counties remain low.

Numbers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that in Jackson County, just 27.8 percent of the population over age 12 is at least partially vaccinated, and only 24.1 percent of the population is fully vaccinated, Barrett said.

The rate in Clay County of people over age 12 with at least one shot is 34.4 percent, and 30.3 percent are fully vaccinated, Barrett said.

Barrett said it is likely the Delta variant is driving the outbreak in Clay County. It’s not clear what is causing the cluster in Jackson County, she said.

Health officials have seen an increase in the number of people getting vaccinated in recent weeks, Barrett said.

“I think that’s because of the scare over Delta,” she said.

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