FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ) – As the state starts to step up enforcement on businesses that violate the state’s coronavirus restrictions, from requiring masks to limited capacity, it still will be weeks before health leaders know if and how much of a difference it makes.
Meanwhile, the coronavirus outbreak in the veterans home in Wilmore continues to spread.
During his daily briefing Thursday, Gov. Andy Beshear stressed tougher enforcement was beginning on the state and local level. That will include fines and business license suspensions, he has said.
“If we all wake up and wear masks, we can stop this escalation … it’s that simple,” he said.
But he said it would take “three to four weeks” to see a “flattening” of the current escalation which has seen three straight weeks of record new cases and this week on pace to be a fourth.
“We should hope, expect to see a flattening and then maybe coming back down,” he said, suggesting it could be five weeks or more before the news on new cases and the virus is “good.”
The governor reported 884 new cases Thursday, bringing trhe state’s total to 77,455. He said that total was about 20 less than last Thursday but about 200 more than each of the two previous Thursdays.
Several area counties had double-digit increases, including 28 in Whitley, 19 each in Madison and Laurel, 17 in Jessamine, 12 in Scott, and 10 in Letcher.
He also reported 11 more deaths, bringing the state’s total to 1,234.Of the deaths, three were in Jefferson, two were in Scott, and one each were in Fayette, Lincoln, Bell, Boyd, Bullock and Warren counties.
The state’s positivity rate continues to inch downward, falling Thursday to 4.1 percent.
The outbreak at the Thomas Hood Veterans Home in Wilmore remains a concern with the number of active cases among veterans up to 33 with another one recovered. The number of active cases among staff is at 10 with five more recovered.
Ten veterans have been transferred to the Veterans Affairs Hospital in Lexington for treatment.
The governor was asked about the Lexington Fayette County Health Department’s “catching up” and transferring over to the state’s new COVID reporting and contact tracing system. The department has said it will be late October or early November before the transition is complete.
“I would prefer it to be late October,” Beshear said.
When asked why the state system is better than the one the county already was using, which created delays that resulted in a backlog of some 1,900 cases being officially reported to the state, the governor said it revolves around the reporting and the sharing of information.
“It allows the information to be shared across the state, among counties. That helps with contact tracing, people move across lines, they live across lines…other counties can come in and help Fayette County if they need to,” Beshear said.