Update: Beshear pleads for more protective gear, notes first death of a long-term-care worker from covid-19, says ‘They’re heroes, too’

Morgan Stanley model (via Financial Times and Vox) predicts a second wave; to enlarge, click on it.

As news develops in Kentucky about the coronavirus and its covid-19 disease, this item will be updated. Official state guidance is at https://kycovid19.ky.gov.

Gov. Andy Beshear again pleaded for donations of personal protective equipment for health-care workers, and said the lack of PPE is the main reason that he has prohibited elective surgeries at hospitals, which a legislative leader said is costing them dearly.

At his daily briefing, Beshear displayed slides showing various amounts of protective items and told his Facebook Live audience, “A lot of this was donated by you. . . . It’s not enough. . . . Hospital systems would tell you this wouldn’t last long.”

Donations of PPE can be made at any state police post or can be arranged by calling 1-833-GIVE-PPE or going to givePPE.ky.gov.

Health Commissioner Steven Stack implicitly pleaded with health-care providers to make daily reports of their PPE sticks, which he said are required for the state to get supplies from the federal government. “We can’t let the resources out unless everybody reports every day,” he said. “We need you to help us with that.”

Beshear said the shortage of PPE makes it impossible to allow elective surgeries at hospitals, which Senate Majority Floor Leader Damon Thayer said Monday night is needed because hospitals are losing so much money and laying off so many workers.

“PPE is the only thing that protects our health-care workers,” Beshear said. “With the nation being critically low on PPE, we can’t do that.” He cited White House guidance to that effect.

Asked about President Trump’s statement that he has authority to overrule governors, Beshear was indirect but dismissive: “The White House is providing guidance,” he said. “They even say it’s guidance. It’s been pretty good guidance. … We’re all on the same page. … I don’t think this is going to be anything more than a one-day back and forth.”

In other covid-19 news Tuesday:

  • Beshear said schools should be prepared to close for the rest of the school year.
  • The state reported 177 new coronavirus cases Tuesday, for a corrected total of 2,210, and 11 more deaths (for a total of 115), including three residents of long-term-care facilities and the first health-care worker. “These numbers would be significantly worse if we hadn’t made those decisions” to end visitation at such facilities, he said.
  • The worker who passed was Pam Hughes, 50, an employee of the Columbia nursing home struck by an outbreak of covid-19. The Courier Journal reports she had worked at Summit Manor since 1988 as a nursing assistant and medication aide, and died Monday, according to a release from Signature HealthCare, owner of the facility.
  • Beshear said 35 more residents and 10 staffers at such facilities had tested positive for the virus, and there is much concern about keeping staff healthy. “Without proper staffing, we could lose more people in these facilities than the coronavirus might take from us,” he said. “They’re heroes, too.”
  • The other 10 deaths were of two women from Campbell County, aged 88 and 89; an 87-year-old woman from Jackson County; an 89-year-old woman and two men, ages 74 and 84, from Jefferson County; a 68-year-old man and an 87-year-old woman from Kenton County; a 61-year-old man from Laurel County, and a 76-year-old woman from Lincoln County.
  • Beshear said 178 people were tested at the Kroger-sponsored site at the Franklin County fairgrounds Tuesday, and the site would be open for two more days. He said the second site, in Kenton County, would be open Wednesday through Saturday, and more sites would be announced Thursday.
  • Beshear announced that the Honorable Order of Kentucky Colonels has given $1 million to the Team Kentucky fund for covid-19 relief, the largest donation yet. He said he would talk more about the fund Wednesday.
  • The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told NBC News that a second wave of coronavirus infections is likely this fall and winter, and that blood testing for antibodies to the virus is needed to be prepared for that, because the level of immunity developed from having the virus has not been proven. Investment bank Morgan Stanley published a predictive model showing a second wave with this advice: “While we understand the desire for optimism, we also caution that the U.S. outbreak is far from over. Recovering from this acute period in the outbreak is just the beginning and not the end. We believe the path to re-opening the economy is going to be long.”
  • South Korea’s CDC says the virus may reactivate in recovered patients, and research is continuing, Bloomberg reports. “While we are putting more weight on reactivation as the possible cause, we are conducting a comprehensive study on this,” said CDC Director-General Jeong Eun-kyeong. “There have been many cases when a patient during treatment will test negative one day and positive another.”
  • President Trump and Vice President Pence are scheduled to meet with recovered patients at 11:30 a.m. today. “It’s the latest step by the White House to try to reassure Americans ahead of the possible re-opening of the economy in several weeks, Politico reports. “It’s also a potentially notable moment given Trump’s famed germaphobia.”
  • Route Fifty reports that daily reports of deaths and testing create an illusion that distorts our perception of the progress of the epidemic, since it takes days to get an accurate death toll for any given day and because any reporting about testing does not include the large number of people who are infected, but never tested. Further, the authors note that it is inevitable that some deaths from covid-19 will mistakenly be attributed to other causes.
  • The pandemic is especially painful for dental patients. “The American Dental Association has recommended that all practices close for everything except emergencies, but it’s not clear what constitutes an emergency,” The Washington Post reports. “The nation’s 200,000 dentists are deferring mortgages, applying for loans and laying off staff, desperate to save their practices. Their patients are calling in similar states of panic, with chipped teeth, decaying molars and receding gums, their aching exacerbated by free time and dread.”
  • A court had ordered an employee at Treyton Oak Towers in Louisville to quarantine at home with an electronic monitor “after testing positive for the coronavirus but refusing to heed public-health rules,” the Courier Journal reports. The Herald-Leader reports, “The employee declined to sign a quarantine/isolation order, according to Jefferson County court documents, even when the orders were sent electronically on April 3 and April 7.” The nursing home had had seven covid-19 deaths and 35 coronavirus cases (23 residents, 12 staff).The employee declined to sign a quarantine/isolation order, according to Jefferson County court documents, even when the orders were sent electronically on April 3 and April 7.
  • Kentucky meatpacking plants are adapting to stay open and protect workers in the pandemic, reports Alfred Miller of the Courier Journal.
  • The Food and Drug Administration has authorized Rutgers University researchers to offer the first saliva test to diagnose covid-19, an approach that could expand testing options and reduce infection for health care workers, The Associated Press reports.
  • Referencing a new report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, the Kentucky Center for Economic Policy reports that Kentucky will need significantly more federal aid to address the severe health and economic harms of covid-19.
  • Members of the University of Kentucky College of Pharmacy along with UK HealthCare, the College of Medicine, and the College of Public Health have formed an alliance to work on developing antibody testing for wide-scale community use; to engage in an existing survey network to possibly allow self-reporting of covid-19 symptoms and to provide information about covid-19 testing; and to focus on building a protocol for hydroxychloroquin-azithromycin clinical trials among patients with non-severe covid-19 infection, UKNow reports.
  • Kentucky Voices for Health has updated its guidance for accessing the state’s safety-net programs.

The New York Times does daily maps showing cases, and counties where they are rapidly increasing. An enlargement of the map section including Kentucky reflects recent spates of cases at nursing homes in Butler and Adair counties; Muhlenberg is also a hotspot:

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