As cases remain on a plateau, Beshear says virus is manageable, as long as Kentuckians follow the rules for preventing its spread

KHN chart shows two-week decline in May followed by a 10-day rise and a plateau higher than before.

As news develops about the coronavirus and its covid-19 disease, this item may be updated. Official state guidance is at

By Al Cross and Melissa Patrick

Kentucky Health News

Cases of the coronavirus in Kentucky have dropped to another plateau, higher than the one before Gov. Andy Beshear started reopening the state’s economy. That’s a manageable level, but surges in other states are a warning, Beshear said Wednesday as he reported 170 new cases.

“Kentuckians are doing a good job, but we’ve got to remember that what we see around us says it can come back very, very quickly,” Beshear said.

Asked later if he was concerned about the number of cases and positive tests, he replied: “We are not on that two-week decline that we had. We reopened, people had more contacts and we had more cases. I think it’s really important to be up front about that, and it’s not just due to more tests. It’s because there are more contacts out there.”

He added, “What we’ve all agreed to do is to learn how to live with this virus, until there’s a vaccine, in the safest way possible. I do believe we’re still in . . . that plateau that we talked about before that two-week decrease. Now, if we stay within that plateau, this is a manageable virus because that plateau is well within the hospital beds, the ICUs and the ventilators that we have available.”

Beshear said last week that he would pay more attention to hospital use and capacity than new cases, and those numbers have been stable or declining. Wednesday he reported that 416 Kentuckians were hospitalized for covid-19 and only 61 one of them were in intensive care, the lowest number in a while. However, Beshear indicated that not all hospitals are reporting.

The 170 new cases brought the state’s total to 12,995; Beshear said 3,444 of those have recovered. Counties with five or more new cases Wednesday were Jefferson, 37; Fayette, 18; Warren, 13; Laurel, 9; Jackson, 7; Boone and Carroll, 6 each; and Campbell, Henderson, Kenton and Madison, 5 each.

Beshear announced six more deaths, bringing the state’s toll to 518, including two that are considered probable covid-19 victims. The fatalities were a 71-year-old man in Clay County, a 90-year-old woman in Fayette County, and four women in Jefferson County aged 95, 93, 87 and 45. He said the 45-year-old had co-morbidities, other conditions that could have contributed to the death.

In long-term-care facilities,  Beshear said 22 more residents and 15 employees had tested positive for the virus, bringing the respective totals to 1,552 and 747. One more death was added to the long-term-care list, bringing that total to 332, including three employees.

Prevention advice: Beshear said it seems that some people are tired of following rules that help prevent people from getting infected, but “We’re gonna have to live with this virus until we get a vaccine. … That takes us changing the way we do things. We need everybody to be willing to do things differently.”

In response to a question form Kentucky Health News, Beshear reiterated previous advice that people should limit their number of activities during a day to limit their possible exposures to the virus.

“There’s truly a risk every time we go out in public right now,” he said. “Reduce the contacts you would have had before covid by at least 50 percent. . . .Manage all of those together because that’s gonna help us mange this crisis.”

Unemployment: As hundreds of people seeking help with their backlogged unemployment-benefit claims lined up for help outside the Capitol, Beshear said at least 1,100 people had been helped Tuesday and Wednesday. He said the operation will move to 275 E. Main St., Frankfort, Thursday and Friday from 9 a,m. to 6 p.m., and will later move to locations around the state.

Most states have struggled to deal with record jobless claims a a result of the pandemic and measures taken to thwart it, but Kentucky has ranked near the top in the percentage of its labor force that has signed up for benefits, partly because Beshear made them easier to get.

“We expanded it faster than just about everybody,” he said. “I wouldn’t take that back, even though it’s caused some delays.” Earlier, he said, “People are hurting and I know it, and our inability to help everybody as quickly as we’ve needed to is unacceptable. . . . We’re going to continue improving our processes, including looking at outside vendors” who have been helping other states.

Beshear said the often-complicated claims process is helped by face-to-face contact, which has been limited by the pandemic. He said help is hard to get out in the state because the previous administration reduced the number of regional offices, and “most are in career-development centers that aren’t open.”

For more information from the state Labor Cabinet at the Kentucky Career Center portal, click here.

In other covid-19 news Wednesday:

  • Beshear related the story, first reported by Louisville’s WLKY-TV, of Marilyn Newton, who has recovered from covid-19 after 58 days at Baptist Health Hospital in Louisville, 37 of them asleep, and her family being told “She’s not gonna make it.”
  • The governor said the state would provide personal protective equipment for voters and poll workers at in-person polling places in every county in Tuesday’s primary: 5,000 masks, 4,000 gallons of hand sanitizer, 5,800 face shields and 20,000 gloves.
  • The state updated its guidance for reopening of public pools and gatherings of up to 50 people.
  • Beshear said he expects college football games this fall, unless there are outbreaks of covid-19. But he said many factors will determine “whether there are fans, and how many fans.”
  • The American Red Cross will test all blood, plasma and platelet donations for covid-19 antibodies, it said in a June 15 news release, at a time when donations are dangerously low. “There is an urgent need for blood donations right now, to meet the needs of patients in hospitals as surgical procedures and treatments . . . resume,” it said. ” It’s important to remember that blood is perishable and cannot be stockpiled.”
  • From development to clinical trials to distribution, Caroline Chen reports for ProPublica about the tremendous challenges that lie ahead with getting a coroanavirus vaccine.
  • The University of Kentucky College of Medicine and UK HealthCare have launched a clinical trial to assess the prevalence of the virus in Central and Eastern Kentucky, UKNow reports. The study will focus on an antibody blood test, which can determine if someone has had it in the past. The study will first test high-risk employees and patients in the hospital, then proceed based on those findings. Researchers hope to test 1,000 employees and patients by the end of June.
  • Beshear appointed Marta Miranda-Straub, former president of the Center for Women and Families domestic-violence organization in Louisville, commissioner of the Department for Community Based Services in the Cabinet for Health and Family Services.
  • The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington projects 200,000 U.S. deaths from covid-19 by Oct. 1, which is about 30,000 more than in the prior projection, WDRB reports. Nearly 117,000 Americans have died from the disease so far, according to Johns Hopkins University.
  • The New York Times provides advice on how to keep children from becoming infected with the virus in public bathrooms.
  • The Washington Post explores why covid-19 spares some, but kills others.
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