State closes in on grim COVID milestones; evictions may get national relief

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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ) – As it nears the six-month anniversary of the first coronavirus case, Kentucky is closing in on two grim milestones.

Meanwhile, the Centers for Disease Control is expected to issue an order Friday that may shutdown all evictions until the end of the year, but that doesn’t relieve the need to find solutions in the meantime, Gov. Andy Beshear said during his daily briefing Wednesday.

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With a record number of deaths and a still-high number of new cases, the state is now close to 1,000 deaths and 50,000 cases, Beshear said.

“Our challenge is continuing to realize this is real, it’s not the flu. We can’t just listen to all the goofy theories that are out there,” Beshear said, citing one suggestion that the coronavirus is all political and will go away after the Nov. 3 election.

“The things I am really worried about are people letting their guard down…I know we all are tired,” the governor continued, noting he will extend the mask mandate another 30 days when it expires Sept. 10.

“If we want to protect businesses, get kids back in school and save lives, we have to keep wearing them.”

Beshear reported 18 deaths, the highest one-day total. The number pushed the state’s total to 966.

The deaths include an 82-year-old man from Ballard County; a 79-year-old woman from Bell County; a 67-year-old man and a 91-year-old woman from Casey County; an 87-year-old woman from Christian County; two women, ages 65 and 79, from Fayette County; a 97-year-old woman from Lincoln County; a 77-year-old man from Martin County; a 43-year-old man from Oldham County; a 91-year-old woman from Perry County; four women, ages 62, 78, 78 and 81, and an 83-year-old man from Todd County; and two women, ages 96 and 99, from Warren County.

The state also confirmed 816 new cases, pushing the state’s total since March 6 to 49,991.

Of the new cases, 116 were from children ages 18 and younger, of which 18 were children ages 5 and under. The youngest was only 2 months old.

The state’s positivity rate rose from 4.4 percent Tuesday to 4.71%.

“I believe we still are at a plateau, but it is still creeping up some, we have to watch it, especially with new activities we are beginning. We are in danger of another spike,” Beshear said, referring to Labor Day, fall college and high school sports, and other events and activities.

At least 10,463 Kentuckians have recovered from the virus.

For information, including up-to-date lists of positive cases and deaths, as well as breakdowns of coronavirus infections by county, race and ethnicity, click here.

Information about COVID-19 and schools is also being made available. To view the reports, click here for K-12 and here for colleges and universities.

On evictions, Beshear noted the CDC suggested Wednesday it plans to half many evictions through the end of the year and will do so with an order that likely will come Friday.

“It will stop most residential evictions….but that still leaves us really needing to resolve issues for landlords, address issues for tenants so they don’t pile up so much debt they can’t get out from under it and lose their homes anyway,” Beshear said.

“It’s time we get all the resources we can online and out to the people,” Beshear said referring to the $15 million the state plans to start making available as part of an eviction assistance plan starting Sept. 15. A number of other financial and legal resources also are available through community action agencies and other groups, he said.

“We can’t just wait because there is an order,” he stated.

Meanwhile, in a ruling Wednesday, a federal judge delayed until after the CDC rules come down any decision in a federal lawsuit challenging Beshear’s own orders delaying evictions.

On other issues, the governor:

— Spoke about five Kentucky State Parks that were recognized as part of Kentucky Living magazine’s Best in Kentucky awards.

“We’ve always known we had an amazing state parks system, but as we’ve asked people not to travel outside of Kentucky, what they’ve done is rediscover what gems we have,” he said. “They are truly special places, and I think we will see Kentuckians visiting more and more. I can’t wait until we have gotten past COVID and have people from all over seeing the best of what we offer.”

The winners are: Dale Hollow Lake State Resort Park in Burkesville was awarded first place for golf courses; Green River Lake State Park in Campbellsville was first place winner for camping spots; My Old Kentucky Home State Park in Bardstown is a new inductee into the Best in Kentucky Hall of Fame after being voted the number one in the designation of historical landmark/museum site for three consecutive years. The park also received a second place award this year for best historic site; John James Audubon State Park in Henderson received second place for museum and third place for adventure; and Cumberland Falls State Resort Park near Corbin received second place for day trips.