Beshear: State in escalation, not plateau; highest monthly death total, worst week

FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ) – On the verge of its deadliest month on record and having just seen its highest single week of new coronavirus cases, Kentucky likely is at the beginning of a third escalation rather than a hoped-for plateau.

“We can’t be casual,” Gov. Andy Beshear warned during his daily briefing Monday. “We must have a sense of urgency…we are not settling in a plateau but are seeing our third escalation. We have to have urgency.

“We don’t want to look back when we get through this and wonder if we could have done better,” the governor stated. “As we come toward a fall season and winter, where more people are going to be inside and we know the virus spreads faster, we’ve got to do better than this. We can’t be casual right now.”

The state recorded 4,949 cases last week, the highest seven-day total since the outbreak began. The state also already has had 229 deaths in September with two days remaining, meaning it will be the highest month.

Kentucky’s case counts are mirroring an increase occurring across the country, one that has health officials worrying the fall may be as bad as some of the other national surges.

And Beshear called Florida’s decision to open up bars and restaurants at 100 percent and fill arenas after experiencing its worst crush of cases “dumb” and “reckless.”

“We’re not pretending this virus doesn’t exist,” he said of the approach Kentucky is taking, noting he doesn’t plan to change the current limits on bars and restaurants in the state.

“I am going to do what it takes to protect people,” he continued, noting if people want a lesser approach, “they’ve got the wrong governor.”

“Politically I’m not trying to please anyone.”

When asked if he was showing enough urgency by not cracking back down with regulations, Beshear said the regulations currently in place, work, especially wearing masks and social distancing. The issue is the number of people following them.

“It’s the issue of the level and effectiveness versus the number of people following them. Wearing masks works, it’s just we’re not seeing enough people doing it,” he said. “If we can can,

Beshear announced 456 new cases Monday, bringing the state’s total to 66,939. The positivity rate is 4.41 percent, about where it has hovered for the last five days.

Five more people died from coronavirus-related causes, raising the state’s total since March 6 to 1,162.

The deaths include a 56-year-old woman from Fayette County; a 91-year-old woman and two men, ages 93 and 97, from Jefferson County; and an 84-year-old woman from Johnson County.

“Let’s call and check on the families who have lost someone,” said Beshear. “I lost my friend Alice Sparks at the end of last week. She lived a wonderful life and lived life to its fullest, but she should still be with us.”

For information, including up-to-date lists of positive cases and deaths, as well as breakdowns of coronavirus infections by county, race and ethnicity, click here.

Information about COVID-19 and schools is also being made available. To view the reports, click here for K-12 and here for colleges and universities.

With Monday the day he had recommended schools wait to start in-person classes, Beshear was asked whether he was confident schools could do so safely.

“If they follow the state guidelines, then yes. If they are in the red and continue with in-person classes, then no. If they do that, we can’t manage the virus…Safely is a relative term right now in some places,” he responded, noting two school districts in counties that have a red incidence rate are continuing with in-person classes.

“They are putting people at risk…at some point you have got to have people doing the right thing, showing the leadership,” he added.

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