Cases keep trending up; long-term-care visits will come with restrictions; Ky. researchers developing masks that attack virus

Video from Health and Family Services Secretary Eric Friedlander runs 5 minutes and 35 seconds.

If you plan to visit a long-term-care facility in Kentucky as visitation reopens, be prepared to follow some tight restrictions. Visitation opens Monday, June 29 for personal-care homes, assisted-living communities and family-care homes, and July 15 for skilled nursing facilities. (The facilities are not obligated to open visitation on those days.)

Visitors will have to schedule in advance, no more than two people can visit a time, they must be socially distanced, and they won’t be in patients’ rooms. Facilities must have a designated visitation room near the main entrance or outdoors so the area can be sanitized between visits. Inside visitors must be masked, and will be screened for possible signs of covid-19.

“This is done balancing needs of individuals, needs of families, needs of folks in these facilities themselves to start seeing each other again,” Health and Family Services Secretary Eric Friedlander said in an online message.

Visitation is resuming after “three months of forced isolation,” notes the Lexington Herald-Leader. “Residents who mostly have been confined to their rooms since March will be able to resume some group activities and communal dining in their facilities.:

Most of Kentucky’s deaths from covid-19 have been among residents of long-term-care facilities, and a few nursing homes have lost “close to a quarter of their populations,” the Herald-Leader notes. “A spike in cases announced Friday at a nursing home in Corbin shows the facilities remain potentially vulnerable.”

There are other restrictions. Before they can allow visitors and resume group activities, the facilities that can start Monday must have gone two weeks without a new coronavirus infection, and those starting July 15 start date must have gone four weeks.

Kentucky Health News chart

The state reported 316 new cases of the coronavirus Saturday, close to the record of 322 on April 19 (except the day it included all results from a prison in the daily report). Saturday’s cases raised the seven-day rolling average to 229 from 216; that increase was the sixth in a row.

The number was driven partly by the Corbin nursing-home outbreak; Knox County had 43 new cases. Fayette County had 49, and Jefferson County led the list with 56. Warren County, with 26, was the only county in double figures.

Reporting via press release, Gov. Andy Beshear said, “This virus is not going away yet. We see numbers spiking in states all across the country. We need to be vigilant so that doesn’t happen here in Kentucky.” Hospitalization figures in the state’s daily report remained stable.

One death from covid-19 was reported Saturday, a 78-year-old woman from Fayette County, raising the state’s death toll to 554.

In other covid-19 news Saturday:

  • University of Kentucky and Somerset Community College professors could soon deliver 3D-printed, customizable masks that hold a re-usable, washable filter that can inactivate covid-19,” reports Rick Childress of the Herald-Leader. Isabel Escobar, a UK engineering professor, “said her long-term goal is to get the masks — which would be effective against many viruses and bacteria — on the faces of first responders and eventually the general public. Since the masks are so early in development, Escobar said it’s hard to pinpoint when that’ll be and what the price of the masks might be.”
  • The Herald-Leader’s Liz Moomey reports on the reopening of the free Red Bird Clinic in northern Bell County, closed for three months due to the pandemic. Renovations allow it to see as many as before, and accommodate University of Louisville dental students in the fall.
  • People needing help with unemployment claims can make appointments for next week in Frankfort from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.; and for Monday or Tuesday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. local time at community colleges in Owensboro and Grayson. Appointments can be made at and going to the In-Person UI Services “View Services” button. Assistance is also available at through the website’s “Chat Now” button or by calling 502-564-2900.
  • Pfizer Inc. CEO Albert Bourla “said the company anticipates it will have safety and efficacy data from phase 3 trials of its covid-19 vaccine available by the fall, perhaps as early as September,” in time for Food and Drug Administration approval or authorization in October, Inside Health Policy reports. With an FDA green light, “Pfizer will likely be able to have hundreds of millions of doses of the vaccine available by the end of this year, and 1 billion by 2021, he added.” Speaking Friday, he also cautioned: “You need to have the stars aligned to accomplish what I’m describing. And frankly, I’m still surprised that things are still aligned.”
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