Virus cases down for day, but on upward trend; state says about 3,000 have complained businesses aren’t enforcing mask order

Kentucky Health News chart; daily case numbers are often adjusted slightly later

By Melissa Patrick

Kentucky Health News

Gov. Andy Beshear announced 477 new cases of the coronavirus Wednesday, about 100 less than reported the day before, but the fifth time since July 8 that the daily case count has exceeded 400. The seven-day rolling average of daily new cases hit a new high, 402.

Beshear stressed that the recent jump in cases shows the need for everyone to wear a mask when in public or when in close quarters with anyone from outside your household.

“It shows you how critical this facial covering requirement is,” Beshear said in a news release. “And we have to end the silliness. Challenges to this mean the loss of lives and could send us the way of Arizona or Florida, and we don’t want that.”

Silliness may be in the eye of the beholder. The state Labor Cabinet said it had received “about 3,000 complaints of people not wearing face coverings where they are required to,” the Louisville Courier Journal reports. The cabinet said most of the complaints were directed at businesses.

As of late afternoon Tuesday, the Lexington-Fayette County Health Department said it had received about 50 complaints from the public about businesses not enforcing the order, Karla Ward reports for the Herald-Leader.

Beshear’s “silliness” line was his second such reference to court challenges to his emergency orders, including Attorney General Daniel Cameron’s request that Scott Circuit Court Judge Brian Privett rule on the legality of last week’s mask order.

Beshear filed a 48-page complaint in Franklin Circuit Court against Cameron, asking the court to declare his mask order proper, Jack Brammer reports for the Lexington Herald-Leader.

Beshear has also asked the Kentucky Supreme Court to uphold his executive orders to restrict crowd sizes at racetracks, agri-tourism businesses and day-care centers, saying in a motion filed Tuesday that “the Commonwealth is in a life and death battle against covid-19,” Deborah Yetter reports for the Louisville Courier Journal.

Beshear’s request bypassed the Court of Appeals entirely, saying time is of the essence to resolving these issues.

“A delayed judicial holding vindicating the governor’s actions is no remedy at all for those Kentuckians who may become sick, who may spread the disease to others, or who may die while the restraining orders remain in effect,” the governor’s complaint said.

Beshear wants the Supreme Court to reverse a ruling by Court of Appeals Judge Glenn Acree, who declined to stay the rulings of circuit judges in Scott and Boone counties, a stay that would have allowed Beshear to reimpose the crowd size restrictions while the case is on appeal.

The Boone County restraining order barred defendants from enforcing attendance limits at automobile racetracks and limits on class size at child-care centers.  The Scott County restraining order barred capacity limits on indoor event spaces.  A hearing on the plaintiffs’ motion for a full injunction is scheduled in Boone County circuit court Thursday, July 16 at 10 a.m.

Melanie Barker, a Northern Kentucky child-care provider, said in an e-mail to journalists that her issue  with the order is that it restricts class size to 10 though Beshear has allowed “limited duration centers” to operate with no such limits. Those centers serve particular employers.

Beshear said 10 more Kentuckians have died of covid-19, bringing that total up to 645. They were a 73-year-old man and a 94-year-old woman from Casey County; a 90-year-old woman and a 96-year-old man from Fayette County; a 67-year-old man from Hardin County; two men, ages 70 and 73, and a 67-year-old woman from Jefferson County; an 88-year-old man from Laurel County; and a 71-year-old woman from Logan County.

The state has recorded 20,677 cases of the coronavirus. Its officially reported rate of positive tests over the past seven days continued to rise, to 4.62 percent. Free, drive-thru testing is available through the state’s partnership with Kroger in Independence, Louisville and Lexington. Sign up here.

Dr. Steven Stack, commissioner of the state Department for Public Health, said Kentuckians can bring the case numbers down.

“”Wear a face mask. Keep a social distance of at least six feet. Thoroughly wash your hands,” he said in the news release. “Answer the call if a contact tracer reaches out to you. These steps will save lives and reduce further spread of this dangerous disease that has so terribly disrupted our lives.”


In other covid-19 news Wednesday:

  • Counties with the most new cases Wednesday were Faytette, with 64; Jefferson, 53; Warren, 23; Casey and Laurel, 19 each; Kenton, 18; Daviess, 16; Hardin and Harlan, 13 each; Christian, 12; Madison, 11; and Clay and Ohio, 10 each.
  • The daily report on long-term-care facilities shows that 560 residents and 365 employees have tested positive for the virus and that 402 residents and three staffers have died from it.
  • CovidActNow estimates that Kentucky’s infection-transmission rate is 1.24 (this is the latest number on the dotted line). RTlive estimates a rate of 1.16. Health officials like to keep the rate below 1.1, which means that 100 infected people will infect 110 others.
  • Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, asked his level of confidence in Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top infectious-disease expert who was attacked in writing by an aide to President Trump, responded with one word: “Total.”
  • In stops at hospitals in Shelbyville and Cynthiana, McConnell kept “preaching,” as he called it, about the need for mask wearing. “The straight talk here everyone need to understand is that this is not going away until we get a vaccine,” and schools with limited space will probably need to operate in shifts, which he hopes to help fund in the next relief bill.
  • Current evidence for aerosol vs. respiratory-droplet transmission of the virus shows that aerosol transmission appears to be less likely. “This result means that six feet of physical distancing, wearing face coverings (either medical masks, cloth masks, or face shields), maintaining hand hygiene, and keeping environments well ventilated should be effective in stopping covid spread,” CovidActNow reports.
  • Flying on an airplane is “not as safe as the airline industry would have you believe, but a lot safer than you might think,” Scott McCartney reports for The Wall Street Journal, outlining some of the hazards.
  • Two Clay County sheriff’s deputies and two officers in the Manchester Police Department have tested positive for the virus, putting them in self-isolation. Another officer in the county is isolating because a family member tested positive, Bill Estep reports for the Lexington Herald-Leader.  “It puts a strain on the agency, mentally and physically,” Sheriff Patrick Robinson said.
  • Kaiser Health News dispels some of the misinformation about contact tracers and walks through the process of what they really do, reporting that the United States’ patchwork approach to this tried-and-true process has been a challenge. Last week, WKYT-TV reported on contact tracers at the Lake Cumberland District Health Department, which covers 10 counties.
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