Despite new records, state not considering more COVID mandates: Beshear

FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ) – The state will follow its own guidelines for ‘Red’ zone counties

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and have many employees work from home and take other steps after Franklin County, where state offices are located, was one of 94 counties in the state to fall into the ‘Red’ zone with more than 25 coronavirus cases per 100,000 people.

Of the state’s 120 counties, 25 more were in the ‘Orange’ zone and one, Nicholas, is in the ‘Yellow’ zone.

“We are going to live up to what we are asking other counties to do,” Gov. Andy Beshear said during his daily briefing Thursday.

Beshear continued to stress no additional mandates or orders are planned. But he continues to hope Kentuckians will follow safety and health guidelines on their own.

“We are not considering any shutdown of any particular industry or business group…we are being very thoughtful about what we do and how we act, but if we were to do it, it would be for a very short duration,” he said in response to a question about whether he was considering steps similar to what some other states are now doing like shutting down bars and restaurants for two weeks.

“What we need is compliance, it’s that simple, we just need people to do the right thing,” he continued.

Many states, including Kentucky, did that early in the coronavirus outbreak.

He also said hospitals and health care facilities are doing “a good job on their own” of limiting things like elective surgeries to make sure the system doesn’t get overwhelmed by coronavirus cases, even as the numbers continue to rise.

He also said he thought Lexington is “better prepared to handle the surge than it was in March or April” when the University of Kentucky turned its sports fieldhouse into a field hospital in case of a surge. UK Healthcare now says it has the capacity and staff to handle a surge.

The availability of health care workers has become more of a concern in some areas than the availability of beds.

“We will run out of nurses and doctors before we run out of beds,” Beshear said of the conditions statewide.

The 94 red zone counties come as other states reach what Beshear called “frightening milestones. He again implored Kentuckians to follow red zone recommendations and school recommendations.

Texas alone has surpassed 1 million cases; El Paso, Texas, is doubling its supply of mobile morgues; the Mayo Clinic Health System is reporting that 100% of its hospital beds are full in northwestern Wisconsin; and North Dakota is allowing COVID-19-positive health care workers to continue working in COVID-19 wings because of a significant health care worker shortage.

Beshear also shared good news with Kentuckians.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) now says masks protect both the wearer and those around them from COVID-19 and reduce the risk of transmitting or catching the virus by more than 70% in various instances.

As of 4 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 12, Beshear reported the following COVID-19 numbers:

  • New cases today: 2,342, the third-highest one-day total
  • New deaths today: 18
  • Positivity rate: 8.29%
  • Total deaths: 1,622
  • Currently hospitalized: 1,311
  • Currently in ICU: 299
  • Currently on ventilator: 163

Top counties with the most positive cases today are: Jefferson, Fayette, Christian, Kenton, Warren and Boone. Many area counties were among the long list with double-digit increases in new cases.

The red zone counties for this week can be found here.

The 18 deaths included a 77-year-old man from Allen County; an 86-year-old woman from Christian County; a 66-year-old man from Clay County; a 75-year-old woman from Clinton County; two 75-year-old men from Henderson County; two women, ages 89 and 96, from Jefferson County; a 76-year-old man from Lee County; an 80-year-old man from Lincoln County; two men, ages 57 and 90, from McLean County; a 78-year-old man from Oldham County; two women, ages 68 and 86, and an 82-year-old man from Pike County; and a 93-year-old woman and a 70-year-old man from Rockcastle County.

After recognizing Veterans Day Wednesday, the governor on Thursday honored John Vereb of Mount Washington, a U.S. Army veteran and an emergency nurse and nursing instructor.

Vereb tragically passed away from COVID-19 on Oct. 23 at only 52 years old and he leaves behind his wife, Angela, and their three children, Harrison, Conner and Alayna.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Vereb was detailed to the emergency department at the Robley Rex Veterans Affairs Medical Center in March, where he often treated COVID-19 patients. On Oct. 11, Mr. Vereb was diagnosed with COVID-19 and died just 13 days later.

“John was proud to serve his country and fellow veterans. To honor John, his family asks all Kentuckians to do their patriotic duty to protect themselves and others by wearing a mask and social distancing,” said Beshear. “It is a small sacrifice to make for those on the front lines who sacrifice, all to serve you.”

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.

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