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COVID Shutters River City Schools as Cases, Positivity Rate Rise

The school districts in Covington, Newport, Bellevue, and Dayton are closed due to rising COVID-19 cases.

The closures come as nearly 10,000 new positive COVID-19 cases were reported across Kentucky on Thursday, the state's highest-ever single-day figure.

There were 1,300 new cases Thursday across five Northern Kentucky counties on a day where the state reported 9,836.

Kenton Co. recorded 501 while there were 458 in Boone, 269 in Campbell, 44 in Grant, 28 in Pendleton. Over the past three days, the state has recorded 26,558 new cases, including 2,953 in five Northern Kentucky counties (1,115 in Kenton, 918 in Boone, 725 in Campbell, 109 in Grant, and 86 in Pendleton).

The state's positivity rate is also the highest-ever, at 23.67%.

“Nearly one in four people being tested are coming up positive,” Governor Andy Beshear said Thursday. “So this week we will surpass last week’s numbers for most cases in any week during the pandemic. Hospital admissions are also increasing, and they are starting to increase rapidly.”

Covington Independent Public Schools said that it would be closed Thursday and Friday "due to the high number of staff COVID-19 related illnesses." The district plans to return on Monday.

Newport Independent Schools also cited the number of staff, but also the number of students, "who are currently sick or in quarantine" when it announced its plan to move to online learning through next Friday, January 14. In-person learning is expected to return to the district on Tuesday, January 18, following the previously scheduled Martin Luther King, Jr. Day holiday.

The schools in Newport will provide meals to students Monday through Friday next week from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. with order placed before 9 a.m. each day (by calling 859-292-3038).

"Our number one priority is safety for our students and staff," Newport Superintendent Tony Watts said. "We think this is the best course of action right now."

In a letter to families, Bellevue Independent Schools Superintendent Robb Smith said that the district is seeing an increase in positive cases and expsoures and so it will be closed on Friday. Smith explained that Friday is not a virtual learning today, allowing those waiting on COVID test results to "rest and reset."

He expects classes to resume in-person on Monday.

Dayton Independent Schools will be closed on Friday (which will be a teacher work day), and will move to virtual learning all next week, with a plan to return to in-person school on Wednesday, January 19, following the MLK Day holiday and a professional development day already scheduled for Tuesday, January 18.

"It is our belief that this is the necessary direction to take to safely manage teaching and learning at this time," the district said in an announcement.
 
Local incidence rates are skyrocketing, and show the average number of positive cases per 100,000 people in each county over a seven-day period. In Campbell Co., the rate is highest locally at 171.1. In Boone, the rate is 163.2, while it is 149.8 in Kenton, 110.6 in Pendleton, and 74.1 in Grant.
 
Beshear said Thursday that the omicron variant of COVID-19 is believed to be the predominant strain circulating in Kentucky's population. It is believed to be more transmissible than previous variants, but also less severe, particularly for those who have received COVID-19 vaccination and booster shots.
 
Hospitals are seeing a strain, however, due to COVID-19 patients. St. Elizabeth Healthcare announced this week that it was pausing non-emergency, elective surgeries that would require admissions, so that the staff's focus can remain on COVID patients.

Most patients who are hospitalized for COVID-19 are unvaccinated or have not received their booster, Beshear said.

There are currently 1,783 people hospitalized across the state, including 402 in intensive care units, and 227 on ventilators.

Nearly 2.8 million people in Kentucky have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

-Staff report