FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ) – State leaders continue to be surprised by the number of residents ignoring the signs of the coronavirus dangers in other states and across Kentucky.
That includes a wide range of examples, from the Mayo Clinic having to put COVID patients in beds in its parking garage and lobby to more than 1,000 hospitals nationwide critically short-staffed.
Meanwhile, Gov. Andy Beshear said the state has cracked down on a few restaurants that have thumbed their noses at the new limits on operations and are reviewing the tents bars and restaurants are using to make sure they don’t simply move a potential coronavirus spread from inside to outside.
During his daily briefing Monday, Beshear again implored Kentuckians to adhere to new restrictions and guidance that hopefully will help stop the rapid spread of COVID-19 in the commonwealth.
The number of Kentuckians diagnosed with COVID-19, hospitalized with the disease, admitted to the ICU and put on a ventilator because of complications from the virus continues to rise week over week.
“Day in and day out, our health care workers are doing what it takes. So day in and day out, we have to, too. Think about their sacrifice, every day going into a unit where they could contract this virus that they see people die from,” said Gov. Beshear. “What about our sacrifice? Over these coming months until we get to a vaccine, are we willing to step up for them and for each other, to make sure we can all get through this?
“We are at war. They are on the front lines and they are our only line. I will not abandon them. I will stand with them and I will make the difficult decisions it takes to make sure that our health care system can ultimately help everybody who needs it,” the governor said, noting that if the state hits the place where other states have in terms of a shortage of health care workers, “we are in real trouble.”
The Governor shared a video in which health care workers ask all Americans to wear masks.
“Wearing masks continues to be the most effective action Kentuckians can take to protect themselves and others, according to national experts. A recent study in Kansas from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed that on average, counties that mandated mask-wearing saw a 6% reduction in cases; in contrast, the counties that opted out saw a 100% increase in cases.
The Governor said if Kentuckians do not take drastic measures to control the statewide outbreak, “we will soon experience other states alarming current reality: New York has had to reopen a field hospital in Staten Island due to accelerating hospitalizations; in Wisconsin, the Mayo Clinic has been forced to put hospital beds in lobbies and a parking garage because hospitals have exceeded 100% capacity; and 22% of hospitals nationwide say they will face a critical staff shortage in the next week.”
“We are headed to an even darker place…we must put up a fight,” the governor said at one point, warning the coronavirus numbers are likely to continue to get worse in the next few days. “We are going to have a dark winter if we don’t pull together.
“There are a large number of Kentuckians doing the right thing, but there are some who aren’t for whatever reasons.
“I’m tired of having to report new records, tired of watching people suffer,” the governor stated.
During his briefing. the media asked the governor his thoughts on the tents, large and small, some restaurants are using to expand outdoor seating which is allowed under the new restrictions. Many have sides and heaters, raising questions about whether they are little more than indoor spaces moved outside.
“Some we believe are safe…but we are reviewing some of the tents we’ve seen and considering some guidance,” Beshear said.
“If we try to cheat it, we won’t stop it,” he added, referring to the virus.
Finally, the Governor updated Kentuckians on COVID-19 in the state’s correctional facilities. Since the outbreak began, he said the state has lost 15 inmates and two Corrections staff members due to complications from COVID-19, including two who died this weekend from the Kentucky State Reformatory.
As of 4 p.m. Monday, Nov. 23, Gov. Beshear reported the following COVID-19 numbers:
- New cases today: 2,135, the highest ever for a Monday, now a total of 160,232 cases since March 6.
- New deaths today: 5
- Positivity rate: 8.97%, down slightly from the weekend
- Total deaths: 1,792
- Currently hospitalized: 1,573
- Currently in ICU: 391
- Currently on ventilator: 203
Top counties with the most positive cases today are: Jefferson, Fayette, Madison, Boone, Kenton and McCracken.
Those reported lost to the virus Monday include a 73-year-old woman from Fayette County; a 73-year-old man from Harlan County; two men, ages 85 and 88, from McCracken County; and a 77-year-old man from Webster County.
On Monday, Dr. Steven Stack, commissioner of the Kentucky Department for Public Health, updated Kentuckians on contact tracing, COVID-19 clusters and new projections that account for Gov. Beshear’s additional restrictions.
Contact tracing has a number of different purposes: case investigation, helping connect Kentuckians to helpful resources they need, contact notification and providing information about quarantining, said Dr. Stack.
Recent models show that just for Jefferson County and 14 surrounding counties, if we had complete compliance with new requirements we could prevent almost 1,000 additional deaths by mid-January.
Even with low compliance, 513 deaths would be prevented.
To view the full daily report, incidence rate map, new statewide requirements, testing locations, long term-care and other congregate facilities update, school reports and guidance, red zone counties, red zone recommendations, the White House Coronavirus Task Force reports for Kentucky and other key guidance visit, kycovid19.ky.gov.