One New COVID Case In Edmonson This Week: Questions Unanswered About White House Report Shared By Governor
Varying Data From Multiple Sources
Darren Doyle, story:
The Barren River District Health Department reported only one new known positive COVID-19 case in Edmonson County this week, making it only 5 new cases over the last two weeks. With known recoveries and reported deaths from coronavirus figured, Edmonson County's current number of active cases stands at only 13. Deaths that were reported to have come from the virus (12) have remained the same for nearly two months.
These numbers are in contrast to a White House report, a portion of which that was tweeted by Governor Andy Beshear this week that listed Edmonson County as a "yellow zone" county, meaning it has between a 5-10% positivity rate. The positivity rate is calculated by taking the total number of current positives and dividing them by the total number of tests administered; however, we were told directly by Kentucky's top epidemiologist Dr. Doug Thoroughman that there was no good way of calculating this number, due to the number of testing facilities that are not reporting their tests administered. All facilities, however, are required to report their positive tests.
Dr. Thoroughman told the Edmonson Voice, "Even at the state level, we don't have a good way of accounting in a given county what tests have been given, or how many tests have been given."
We took issue with Governor Beshear's sharing of this information because it was in direct contrast with state, regional, and local data, which the Edmonson Voice has tracked, or attempted to track from the beginning of the virus. Some of this data provided to us was from Kentucky governmental agencies. We contacted the Governor's Office and asked this question specifically: "We were told by all these entities that either they don't track administered tests or that the positivity rate for individual counties is not available. If that's the case, how can the Governor's tweeted graphic labeled "White House Report," that showed Edmonson County as one of many in KY with a 5-10% positivity rate be accurate? The White House now has information on individual county rates in KY but Kentucky does not?"
We did not receive a response from the Governor's Office; however, we were forwarded the complete White House report by the Office of Public Affairs of the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services. The report listed several counties in Kentucky as troubled areas and described how this was determined. This method contrasted from data regularly reported in Kentucky.
According to the report, Edmonson County was placed in the "yellow zone," because it supposedly met one of two conditions: 1. It had 10 or more confirmed cases per 100,000 people during the week of August 8 - 14th; (special note: the BRDHD reported only 5 new cases for Edmonson County during that time period) Or 2. It had a viral (RT-PCR) lab test positivity result between 5-10%, data which the state epidemiologist told us was not available for Edmonson County. Not that we couldn't obtain it, but that it didn't exist because there was no good way to calculate it. The report also included a "red zone," which were counties reporting both new cases above 100 per 100,000 population, and a viral (RT-PCR) lab test positivity result above 10%.
Screenshots of White House data and explanation shared by Gov. Beshear earlier this week.
While Edmonson County saw a slight increase in cases during the week of August 2nd through August 7th (14 cases,) the county has not seen the same negative impact from COVID-19 as many surrounding counties. When one sees our county in a report flagged by the White House and shared by the Governor with his tweeted statement, "If you add the red and the yellow counties, you are close to, if not over, 50% of the entire state. We must work to get #COVID19 under control in Kentucky," it could cause unnecessary fear.
According to the data we can confirm, COVID-19 is already under control in Edmonson County, at least at the moment.