COVID numbers still suggest possible plateau; Boyle prison sees outbreak

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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ) – Sounding an optimistic tone, Gov. Andy Beshear reported 619 new coronavirus cases Wednesday, a number he said continues to suggest the state is reaching a new plateau level.

And using statistics from states like Oklahoma and Florida, he urged state residents to continue wearing masks to avoid throwing the state and its health care system into a crisis.

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While the numbers are encouraging for a third straight day, the state’s positivity rate climbed to a new high for recent weeks to 5.81 percent. That was after it declined Tuesday from Monday.

“Right now is the moment where we stop the increase or face the fate of Oklahoma, Florida and others,” Beshear advised. <But these numbers are relatively stable…that’s good.”

The governor noted for the week of July 6, the state recorded 2,482 cases. The next week, the number was 3,772 cases and last week the numbers hit 3,918.

“This week is tracking close to last week. The numbers are stabilizing or reducing. The numbers are higher than we won’t them to be. But it’s because of the hard work and willingness of people to wear masks,” he said.

The 619 cases reported Wednesday followed 522 cases Monday and 532 Tuesday. The state now has had a total of 28,727 cases. Wednesday’s numbers came on 10,738 tests. So far since March, the state has confirmed 609,989 tests.

The state has 571 people in the hospital, which is about the same as Tuesday, and 112 people in ICU, down slightly from Tuesday.

Another 17 kids under 5 tested positive, the youngest being four months old. The children include two in Clark County, and cases in Boyle, Perry and other locations.

The overall new cases include 101 in Jefferson County, 64 in Fayette, 22 in Pulaski, 21 in Bell, 18 in Scott, and 10 in Pike among others.

Beshear also reported five more deaths, bringing the state’s total to 724. The death’s included residents of Knox and Clay counties.

But the state’s overall mortality rate is improving, falling from 3 percent to 2.5 percent, because of better treatment and response by health care agencies, Beshear said.

During the question and answer session with reporters, Beshear repeated an answer he gave earlier this week about what he tells residents who don’t want to wear masks because not everyone in almost daily protests aren’t wearing them. The governor likened it to practicing one’s faith, saying “it’s not easy.”

Mentioning only briefly the federal court orders than exclude protests from the governor’s mass-gathering orders, Beshear said, “If our standard for our behavior is I’m no going to do it because another person isn’t doing, then we are not going to stop this virus…we are asking people to do the right thing because they believe it is the right thing.

“It’s not supposed to be easy. We are asking people to do the hard thing, to do the right thing,” he continued.

While it is making some progress, the state continues to struggle with coronavirus in prisons, including a new outbreak at Northpoint Training Center in Burgin in Boyle County.

That facility now has 10 staff and 16 inmates who have tested positive in just the last two weeks.

So far the state has had 811 inmates test positive, 122 staff and eight deaths. As of Wednesday, the state has 379 active inmate cases and 59 active staff cases. The latest death is a 37-year-old inmate at the Kentucky State Penitentiary.

The state also is reviewing 700 inmates for potential release as part of the state’s efforts to curb the spread of the virus in state prisons. The inmates will have to be close to completing their sentences for non-violent, non-sex-related offenses. Since the pandemic hit, some 1,200 inmates have been released.