COVID numbers still high, positive test rate up

FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ) – The number of new coronavirus cases in Kentucky continues high and the positive test rate has climbed almost to the dangerous 5 percent threshold, Gov. Andy Beshear said during his daily update Wednesday.

And by next week, the state still hopes to see positive results from some of the steps take in the last two weeks, especially the mask-wearing requirement.

If not and the surge continues, reducing restaurant and other retail capacity to 25 percent and closing bars, both of which have been recommended by the White House, would be the next steps, Beshear said, noting the Kentucky Restaurant Association has been alerted to the possibility.

He reported 518 new cases, pushing the state’s total to 24,540. The seven-day moving average positive test rate hit 4.92 percent.

“That is a concern,” the governor said of the number.

At 5 percent, federal experts recommend considering rolling back some re-opening steps and taking other measures to curb the spread. Beshear said the state was not prepared for those moves, yet.

“We still hope to have an idea early next week” on the impact of the steps the state has taken, Beshear said, adding, “If we saw a really large spike, we would act sooner.”

He noted Ohio and Indiana both have joined the mask requirement, reflecting the growing understanding of how wearing face coverings can help stop or slow the spread of the disease.

“It should make our requirement more effective…and it shows it’s not a Republican thing or a Democratic thing,” he stated, referring to the fact the governors of Ohio and Indiana are Republicans while he is a Democrat.

The number of people hospitalized — 603 — because of COVID and in the ICU — 145 — because of the virus also are a concern because both numbers climbed significantly from the totals reported Tuesday.

The new cases also continue to spread in large numbers outside of just the state’s two largest counties and among young children

Jefferson had 83 new cases and Fayette 34 while Scott had 19, Laurel and Perry 11 each and Franklin 10, the governor said.

Another 13 kids under the age of 5 tested positive with the cases in seven different counties. The youngest were two five-month-olds.

Six new day care centers reported cases bringing to 36 across the state that have at least one coronavirus case. The new cases included five staff and three children.

Beshear said the under-40 age group continues to increase as a percentage of overall cases in the state, reflecting a trend seen nationwide.

The governor also reported three additional deaths, bringing the state’s total to 677. The deaths were in Simpson, Allen and Webster counties, and included a 49-year-old woman.

Beshear and Public Health Commissioner Dr. Steven Stack continued to stress the importance of wearing masks and social distancing, especially with school districts trying to open in a month. That opening has many parents and teachers concerned with teachers quietly worried their fears aren’t being heard.

When asked about that, Beshear assured them their concerns are valid and at the top of the state’s list.

“We are watching,” he said, calling teacher concerns, along with others, a “highest priority.”

The impact of spikes in other states is beginning to be felt in Kentucky, even if the spike in cases hasn’t gotten out of control.

Stack noted some Kentucky hospitals have gotten COVID patients transferred from Tennessee because hospitals there are filling up.

On the other side, Beshear, whose family has been in the funeral home business for years, said a casket company in Kentucky is at capacity sending “truckloads” of caskets to states like Georgia, Alabama and Texas.

As for testing and PPE supplies should the circumstances grow worse, Beshear said the state is taking steps to be prepared.

“We’re not concerned about testing right now,” he said, noting the state has a large suply of kits.

The issue would be whether labs and testing outlets can get the supplies needed for those kits.

“We are taking steps right now,” he said, making the same point about PPEs of which the state has about a two moth stockpile.

Categories: Coronavirus Updates, Featured, Local News, News

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