Another COVID record, governor says communities must work together

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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ) – Gov. Andy Beshear said Wednesday community leaders, schools, businesses and families listed in red zone counties each Thursday on kycovid19.ky.gov should follow new recommendations the following Monday through Sunday to stop the spread of COVID-19 in their communities.

“It takes an entire community to protect the most vulnerable, to keep our schools open and to keep our economy running,” said Beshear. “What we need to see is that when a county hits red, everybody comes together in a coordinated effort.”

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“When a county gets out of the red zone, schools can reopen, businesses have more flexibility, nursing homes can accommodate visitors and Kentuckians are able to enjoy more activities with loved ones. Most important, fewer people get sick or die from COVID-19.

“This will not just protect nameless, faceless people somewhere in Kentucky. It will protect the people you see every day,” Beshear continued.

“This is the worst our incidence rate map has ever looked and every indication would suggest that it’s going to get worse before it gets better,” said Dr. Steven Stack, commissioner of the Department for Public Health. “This is a human problem. A global problem. Everyone wants it to be over. But if we get cavalier about it, it’s like being at a casino – the house always wins. The virus is the house. When everyone flaunts the guidelines, they don’t work.”

Beshear reported 1,864 cases Wednesday, the highest Wednesday on record. The new cases pushed the state total over the grim 100,000 threshold to 101,5401 cases

The positivity rate hit 6.07 percent, the first time back over 6 percent in weeks and at a level that may force the state to take further actions if it continues to climb.

Other closely watched indicators also continued to rise with 927 people in the hospital, 235 in ICU and 110 on ventilators.

The state has 64 counties in the ‘Red’ category and 47 more in the ‘orange’, illustrating how fast the virus is driving up numbers statewide.

A list of today’s 64 red counties can be found here.

He reported 14 more deaths, bringing that total to 1,442.

Those reported lost include an 83-year-old man from Boyd County; an 80-year-old man from Breathitt County; a 61-year-old woman from Christian County; a 95-year-old woman from Fayette County; a 93-year-old woman and a 91-year-old man from Henderson County; an 87-year-old woman and three men, ages 70, 80 and 81 from Jefferson County; two women, ages 80 and 82, from Kenton County; a 64-year-old woman from Knox County; and an 85-year-old woman from Lee County.

The governor said the White House recommends keeping mask mandates in place, ensuring physical distancing, avoiding public crowds and private gatherings and ensuring that retail establishments are complying with guidelines.

The Oct. 25 White House COVID-19 report said “current transmissions are linked to home gatherings” and that family members and friends may be asymptomatic but still contagious.

He criticized state legislators who held hearings this week doubting the veracity of the state’s numbers, even doubting Stack’s numbers and whether the virus was even real.

“These people say they support the President but it’s the President’s people who are making these recommendations to us,” he said.

As for the legislators’ treatment of Stack, Beshear called it, “Wrong, just absolutely wrong.”

Using a gambling analogy, Stack went on to say, “If we are cavalier about it, we are going to lose big…the virus is the house and the house always wins.”

The covernor announced a new testing project today with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as the state sees record-high numbers of new COVID-19 cases. Up to 200 tests tomorrow and 300 tests each day after are available to Kentuckians at the Kentucky Exposition Center – Lot C in Louisville, from Oct. 29-31 and Nov. 2-6.

An additional testing location in Lexington will be announced soon and will open Nov. 16. Kentuckians can expect PCR test results within two or three days. Each patient receiving a test gets a pack of five cloth face coverings provided by HHS. Kentuckians can register for a test now here.

“Go vote early and get your COVID-19 test all at the same time,” said Gov. Beshear.

Cabinet for Health and Family Services Secretary Eric Friedlander updated Kentuckians on the state’s long-term care facilities. By the end of this week, approximately 330,000 Kentucky-sponsored surveillance COVID-19 tests will have been administered in long-term care facilities. Residents and staff in red counties are tested twice a week; those in orange counties are tested weekly.

“Thank you to long-term care staff members for your continued hard work and dedication,” said Secretary Friedlander. “Thanks to our residents, families, loved ones, providers, vendors and all who help support these very Kentuckians who hold such a special place among all of us.”

Friedlander said at Thomson-Hood Veterans Center in Wilmore, with 280 beds the largest facility operated by the Kentucky Department of Veterans Affairs, 54 veterans are currently positive and tragically, 11 have been lost to COVID-19. Twenty-three staff are currently positive.

The Cabinet for Health and Family Services is providing surveillance testing: Twice a week, PCR testing is being administered and on top of that, facilities are using Binex antigen testing for rapid results.

Kentucky Department of Veterans Affairs Strike Teams have been deployed, staffed by health professionals from several states and representing the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

“We have to do our part. We have to wear our masks. We have to follow the guidelines. That’s the best way we can give back to our veterans and protect them,” said Secretary Friedlander.

In a video update, American Sign Language interpreter Virginia Moore shared the wonderful news that she is now cancer-free. She reminded all Kentuckians to get regular cancer screenings.

“Team Kentucky’s kindness lifted me up and gave me the strength to go through this. It was overwhelming and just remarkable,” Moore said. “Let’s take that kindness and support and give it to everyone out there who is battling the coronavirus.”

To view the full daily report, incidence rate map, testing locations, long term-care and other congregate facilities update, school reports, the White House Coronavirus Task Force reports for Kentucky and other key guidance visit, kycovid19.ky.gov.