COVID-19 variant cases rising among younger Kentuckians, health officials say

Published: Apr. 22, 2021 at 11:02 PM EDT
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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WKYT) - Cases of COVID-19 appear to be at a plateau in Kentucky. However, reports of variants are ticking up, and are mostly impacting the younger population.

40% of the COVID cases reported in Kentucky this month have been in people 29 or younger. These age groups also make up the fewest vaccinated.

Strains of COVID-19, most commonly the B117 from the United Kingdom, are rising daily in Kentucky. There are now 270 variant cases in the commonwealth, and just three and a half weeks ago, that number was just 41.

“Folks this is affecting younger people and younger Kentuckians. If you’re a Kentuckian, really 16 through 49, this is the group that is being infected by this variant and more people are getting infected than ever before,” Governor Andy Beshear said.

One reason, health officials believe, is because vaccinations in younger age groups are much lower compared to older populations. The other reason is at-risk behavior.

“Getting together at bars, restaurants, significant get-togethers, whether it’s trips or whatever it may be. So significant risks of spreading the virus,” emergency physician Dr. Ryan Stanton said.

Dr. Stanton says gatherings among unvaccinated groups gives the virus a chance to evolve and develop these stronger variations.

“I see people with long term complications, damage from it. The multi-organ inflammatory syndrome. It’s still by no stretch of the imagination a benign virus,” Dr. Stanton said.

Dr. Stanton believes the easiest weapon against the strains, and the virus as a whole, is the COVID vaccine. Right now more than 500,000 of them in Kentucky are just sitting in freezers, ready to go into arms.

“This is the time where we determine what happens this summer based on our protections, and us protecting each other, and as many people being protected from COVID as possible. But right now we’re still leaving plenty of fuel on the fire,” Dr. Stanton said.

The governor says on Friday he will announce a partnership with FEMA that will not only open a vaccination site in eastern and western Kentucky, but also use mobile units to reach under-vaccinated communities.

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