Kentucky COVID-19 Update for African Americans: October 28, 2020

by Dr. Algernon Austin, Senior Researcher, Thurgood Marshall Institute

At this time, Kentucky has the 17th highest coronavirus-case rate among U.S. states, and the 22nd highest COVID-19 death rate. There is a very strong upward trend in new coronavirus cases.

Kentucy’s Covid Exit Strategy rating: Uncontrolled spread.

As of October 28, 2020, Kentucky had the 17th highest number of new coronavirus cases per 100,000 over the last seven days of any state in the United States. It had the 22nd highest number of COVID-19 deaths per 100,000 over the same period.[1]

Since late September, the 7-day average number of new coronavirus cases in Kentucky has been on a very strong upward trend (Figure 1). The COVID Exit Strategy rating of “uncontrolled spread” — the worst of four ratings — unfortunately seems quite appropriate for describing the situation in the state. The 7-day average number of new COVID-19 deaths has been generally trending downward over the last week (Figure 2).

Using data collected on October 28, 2020 by the COVID Tracking Project, the Thurgood Marshall Institute (TMI) compared the share of Black people in Kentucky to the share of Black people among Kentucky’s coronavirus cases and COVID-19 deaths. There are no significant disparities in cases or deaths in the state.

Black people in Kentucky should be nonetheless be vigilant about COVID-19. While we don’t see a significant overrepresentation of African Americans in the number of cases or deaths as we do in some other states,[2] COVID-19 is still causing Black Kentuckians illness and death. The number of cases in the state is rising sharply which means that it is also likely rising sharply for African Americans.

Governor Andy Beshear calls on residents to follow COVID-19 public health guidelines which include maintaining a six-foot physical distance from others in public, wearing face masks when not at home, washing one’s hands frequently, and staying home if you are sick.[3]

Additional Resources

Team Kentucky, Kentucky’s official source for information concerning COVID-19:

Covid Exit Strategy:

Answers to frequently asked questions about the new coronavirus by the New York Times:

[1] Coronavirus in the U.S.: Latest map and case count, N.Y. Times (Oct. 29, 2020),

[2] For example, we found a substantial disparity in deaths in Alabama. Algernon Austin, Alabama COVID-19 Update for African Americans: October 13, 2020, Medium (Oct. 19, 2020),

[3] Kentucky’s Response to COVID-19, Commonwealth of Kentucky (last visited Oct. 29, 2020),

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