Numbers better, mask threats draw ire of Beshear, Stack


FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ) – The umber of new coronavirus cases in the state may be stabilizing again and the positivity rate dipped slightly again Wednesday.

In addition, the umber of counties in the state on the White House “red” and “yellow” list is down and for the first time in weeks, Fayette and Jefferson counties are out of the “red,” Gov. Andy Beshear said during his daily briefing.

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But the hints of good news didn’t stop rebukes from Beshear and Public Health Commissioner Dr. Steve Stack on people who threaten Health Department workers over masks or statistics, including Beshear calling them, “jerks.”

The governor reported 776 new coronavirus cases Wednesday ad eight new deaths.

The new cases pushed the state’s total to 58,764, while the positivity rate fell to 3.89 percent, meaning it has been below 4 percent for all but two of the last 10 days.

Of the new cases, 91 were from children ages 18 and younger, of which 13 were children ages 5 and under. The youngest was 3 months old.

“We continue to see this trend, where more and more kids are testing positive. They are becoming a bigger percentage of our positivity rate for a couple of reasons,” the governor said. “One, thankfully, kids are being tested more often, and two, they are out doing more. But remember as we are making these decisions, our belief is that kids can transmit this virus as easily as anybody else.”

“The numbers still are higher than we would like, but they are not accelerating from the last two weeks,” he added.

The eight new deaths, raised the total to 1,082 lost to the virus.

The deaths rinclude a 49-year-old woman and a 76-year-old man from Christian County; a 66-year-old man from Fayette County; an 84-year-old woman from Greenup County; a 74-year-old man from Jackson County; two men, ages 68 and 83, from Montgomery County; and an 88-year-old man from Union County.

The weekly analysis the White House sends the state each week also had some better news with only 13 counties, including Laurel, statewide in the “red” zone with positivity rates above 10 percent and 44 in the “yellow” with rates between 5 ad 10 percent. The total was the lowest the state has had in weeks.

Of the new cases, Fayette, Madison, Estill, Laurel ad Whitley were among those with double-digit increases.

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.

Mark Carter, a former health care industry executive chosen by Gov. Beshear to lead Kentucky’s contact tracing efforts, provided an update Wednesday on the initiative.

He noted that contact tracing information and other material is now available at in English, Spanish, Burmese, Somali and Chinese.

“In addition to those materials, we also recommend downloading and sharing the temporary Medicaid Presumptive Eligibility One Pager, which is also available on the website,” Carter said. “This includes important and timely information for residents about who can, and where to, apply for this type of Medicaid assistance.”

He said nearly 400 more workers have been added to the staff since July, including contact tracers, disease investigators, regional team members and social support coordinators.

“This brings our total to 1,240 staff members who are not only trained to trace the spread of COVID-19, but to also help our local communities with the support and resources needed to successfully quarantine and monitor their symptoms,” he said.

Carter again went through process that people can expect if they are determined to have been in contact with someone with COVID-19, including initial contact by their local health departments. He asked that everyone do the right thing and provide the information requested and take the steps suggested to keep themselves and those close to them safe.

“Our public health professionals at the state, regional and local levels are working nonstop to protect you. This is not easy. This is not fun. We are working through this pandemic to save as many Kentuckians as we can,” Carter said.

“It’s on all of us to do the right thing – wear your mask, social distance as much as possible, get a test if you feel sick and if you’re asked to quarantine or isolate, do it. If you need help with that, our contact tracing teams are prepared to help you,” Carter continued.

After the presentation, Beshear chastised people who threaten health care or health department workers or call them “liars.”

“You are being a jerk…think about what that says about you,” Beshear said.

Later, Beshear tied some of them into his response about legal arguments Thursday before the state Supreme Court in lawsuits challenging his executive orders to try to limit the spread of the virus.

“I don’t get it…if they win, we lose…it’s just crazy the things they want to undo,” Beshear said, noting the state should expect an extension of the current mask mandate. “It’s not fun being the person making the decisions.”

“We’ve got to get over this inconvenience,” Stack said in a brief but firm rant on the mask issue.