FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ) – The record numbers of new coronavirus cases continue to pile up in the state, but Gov. Andy Beshear said Tuesday he hopes the voluntary recommendations for communities that get into the “red” zone for high outbreaks will provide a “targeted” approach to trying to control the surge.
He also said he expects colleges and others located in “red” zone counties also will do their part to follow the recommendations.
Meanwhile, Little Sandy Correctional facility in Sandy Hook in Elliott County in Eastern continues to work to control an outbreak there.
“It is our duty to come together once again,” Beshear said as he continues to implore state residents to take the extra steps necessary to curb the spread of the virus.
Kelly Alexander, the Kentucky Department for Public Health’s chief of staff, spoke about her 40-year-old husband Josh’s harrowing battle with COVID-19. Prior to COVID-19, Josh was extremely healthy and loved hiking and the outdoors.
With COVID-19, he couldn’t even talk without being short of breath or suffering from a coughing attack. Thankfully, Josh is now out of the hospital and at home, but he is not out of the woods yet. He still is fighting pneumonia in both lungs.
“The coronavirus affects everyone differently. But one thing is certain. This is not something you want to spread to others and it is not something you want to watch your loved ones suffer from,” said Alexander. “These are not just numbers. These are people. These are husbands, mothers, fathers, family, friends, and neighbors.”
Due to work schedules, Alexander was not exposed and has been away from her home since early in October.
His mother also contracted the disease.
Beshear reported 1,786 new cases, a record for a Tuesday, pushing the state’s total to 99,652. The positivity rate rose to 5.97 percent, the highest its been in weeks.
The hospitalizations also continue to rise significantly with 913 in the hospital Tuesday, 233 in ICU and 115 on ventilators.
Beshear also reported 18 deaths, meaning the state now has lost 1,428 people to virus-related causes.
Those reported lost include a 99-year-old woman from Christian County; a 79-year-old woman from Henderson County; a 70-year-old woman from Hopkins County; three women, ages 79, 82 and 86, and five men, ages 62, 62, 70, 88 and 93, from Jefferson County; two men, ages 96 and 97, from Jessamine County; a 76-year-old man from Nicholas County; a 72-year-old man from Ohio County; two women, ages 77 and 91, from Scott County; and a 72-year-old woman from Wayne County.
The Governor said that community, long-term care and school leaders and administrators, as well as Kentucky families in red zone counties, should prepare a weekly COVID-19 reduction plan based on each Thursday’s incidence rate map.
Thursday’s red zone map, published on kycovid19.ky.gov, provides communities and families time to plan and accommodate the new red zone reduction recommendations and other existing guidance, including for schools, the following week (Monday through Sunday).
The Governor said schools already follow the Thursday map for when a county enters the red zone.
“If you’re in a red county, anything you don’t need to do, don’t. Stay home as much as possible,” Beshear said. “Schools shouldn’t be the only ones that are taking these steps. When you coordinate these two responses, the schools and the community together, we can get the best result.”
The top counties with the most positive cases today are: Jefferson, Fayette, Warren, Kenton, Hardin and Pike. A list of Tuesday’s red counties can be found here.
J. Michael Brown, secretary of the Executive Cabinet, reminded Kentuckians that from the outset of the pandemic, all correctional facilities enhanced sanitation and hygiene, suspended visitation to keep staff and inmates safe and initiated staff screening for COVID-19 symptoms every day upon entry. Inmates were provided with additional free phone calls and emails to keep them connected to family and friends.
He also shared that cloth masks for inmates and staff were provided in early April and have been supplemented to ensure the inmates have a fresh one available at all times. When a positive staff or inmate case has occurred, the correctional facility has worked with the Kentucky Department for Public Health to conduct contact tracing, run additional tests and separate the prison population into distinct housing units if necessary.
Currently, there are 263 active inmate cases and 20 active staff cases in state prisons. There have been 1,164 total inmate cases and 194 total staff cases; sadly, 13 inmates and two staffers have died of COVID-19.
At Little Sandy, 262 inmates have tested positive in an outbreak that began a few days ago. That’s almost all of the 263 cases in the state’s prison system. The state also has 20 active staff cases in the prison system with five of those at Little Sandy.
Beshear also recognized Bobby Rorer, a husband, father, grandfather and Kentucky World War II veteran tragically lost to COVID-19. Bobby was one of the residents at the Thomson-Hood Veterans Center in Wilmore, where he passed away separated from his family.
“Bobby was a hero to our people, joining the army at just 16 years old after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. He never met a stranger. He loved getting out, meeting new people and sharing stories. So much so that after retiring from a long career in government and volunteerism, Bobby could often be found at Walmart daily where he would go to just sit and talk to people. They even offered him a greeter position,” said Beshear. “Most of all, he will be missed by his wife Dana, whose name he called during his final days. Dana, we are praying for your entire family.”