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1 in 15 people have COVID-19 infection in Jefferson County, health officials estimate

Louisville Metro Public Health and Wellness said multiple neighborhoods are showing "extremely high levels" of COVID-19 in wastewater samples.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Officials with Metro Public Health and Wellness say the omicron variant of COVID-19 is spreading in Louisville at an alarming rate.

Doctors with the health department said Tuesday that the city is currently on a red level alert and reported 16,287 last week compared to the previous week. All signs of new infections point to wastewater samples collected.

“It’s clear from our wastewater data that COVID is everywhere. We are seeing levels 10 times higher than at the peak of the delta wave in August,” said Dr. Sarah Moyer, the director of the Department of Public Health and Wellness. “We know from the wastewater as well that omicron has virtually replaced delta and is now the main variant in our community sewage samples.”

Moyer said multiple communities – Shawnee, Fern Creek/Cedar Creek, Newburg/Heritage Creek and Fairdale - are showing extremely high levels of COVID-19 in wastewater samples. They are urging everyone in those communities to get tested.

“When you look at the areas of the city with the lowest vaccination rates, they also have some of the highest wastewater levels of COVID and the highest number of infected people today,” Dr. Moyer said. “In those communities, we are concerned that there’s probably twice as many people positive.”

According to health department data, 3% of Louisville’s population is infected with the virus, but health officials believe that number could be much higher.

“Doubling that means 6%, or six out of every 100 people in a room would test positive. That’s one of every 15 people that you see is positive for COVID,” Moyer said.

RELATED: COVID-19 test site in Louisville church parking lot raise questions after delay in results

The high number of infections also means an uptick in hospitalizations. Health officials said about 90 more people have been admitted to the hospital within the last seven days.

Louisville set a record high of hospitalizations with 413, surpassing the previous record of 399 set in Dec. 2020. Officials are reminding those who are unvaccinated that the virus can cause a strain on hospitals and resources.

According to associate medical director Dr. SarahBeth Hartlage, while omicron may give someone a mild infection, those who are unvaccinated, immunocompromised or people who do not know they are high risk could still face a severe infection.

RELATED: COVID-19 updates for Kentucky; Here's what's happening now amid virus and omicron surge

On the flip side, Hartlage said the health department is seeing a slight uptrend in vaccinations.

An estimated 73.1% of Louisvillians have received one dose of the vaccine with 62% completing the vaccine series and 40.1% receiving a booster.

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