State’s positivity, hospitalizations race upwards; Powell rescue team honored

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – Kentucky’s skyrocketing COVID 19 cases continued unabated Thursday, with the positivity rate now racing toward 7% and the number of new cases again nearing 1,000.

The number of counties in the ‘red’ category for high incidence rates grew from 10 to 13 in one day and while 54 counties, including Fayette and several surrounding counties, now are in the dangerous ‘orange’ category..

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In the daily report Thursday, the state listed 933 new cases. The numbers pushed the total number of cases in the state to 473,503.

The positivity rate rose to 6.63% from 6.12% Wednesday and 5.71%Tuesday and 5.48% Monday.

Of the new cases, 220 are in people 18 and younger.

The number of ‘red’ counties was up from nine Tuesday while the number of ‘orange’ counties is up from 43 Tuesday.

The state reported two new coronavirus-related deaths, bringing Kentucky’s total death toll since the pandemic to 7,308.

The state reported 423 people hospitalized, up from 380 Wednesday and 347 Tuesday; 124 in ICU, up from 115 Wednesday and 112 Tuesday; and 50 people on a ventilator, down from 59 Wednesday but up from 44 Tuesday.

During his briefing Thursday, Gov. Andy Beshear said the delta variant is the most aggressive, contagious variant seen to date in the battle against COVID-19.

Due to the delta variant’s spread, on Monday, Gov. Beshear and Dr. Steven Stack, commissioner of the Kentucky Department for Public Health, issued new recommendations for Kentuckians who are: unvaccinated; high-risk; and/or work in jobs that require significant contact with the public. To learn more, see the full release.

Thursday, Dr. Stack also released Red Zone Recommendations for counties with more than 25 average daily cases per 100,000 people.

“Please come together as a community. We need local leaders to message and demonstrate through their actions that vaccines are important and they’re what we do to keep ourselves safe,” said Dr. Stack.

The Governor also encouraged all Kentuckians 12 and older to get a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine and then sign up for a chance to win $1 million or a full college scholarship at ShotAtAMillion.ky.gov.

One $1 million winner and five full-scholarship winners have already been selected. On both July 30 and Aug. 27, another $1 million winner and five more full-scholarship winners will be chosen randomly.

So far, 697,763 vaccinated Kentuckians have signed up for the $1 million drawing and 39,313 vaccinated youth have signed up for the full scholarship drawing.

“These vaccines are life-saving and for a few lucky Kentuckians, they’re going to be completely life-changing, too,” said Beshear.

This week, the governor also honored the Powell County Search and Rescue Team as Team Kentucky All-Stars for their continued service to Kentuckians visiting Red River Gorge and surrounding areas.

“Each day you show up to ensure residents and visitors of Powell County and the Gorge have access to the quickest and safest rescues when necessary,” said Beshear. “You and the entire team of volunteers show the true meaning of selflessness, bravery and compassion. Thank you for all you continue to do.”

As he recognized these All-Stars, Beshear issued an acclamation in memory of one person who inspires their work: Don Fig, who spent nearly five decades serving Kentuckians – initially in law enforcement and later leading rescues in Red River Gorge.

In 1962, Fig initiated the Red River Gorge Search and Rescue Team. During his career, he participated in approximately 1,660 rescues, which the governor called “a heroic number unlikely to be matched.”

Sadly, Fig passed away in 2020, but his legacy lives on through the dedicated team of search and rescue members who still carry out his mission.