Report prepared for task force says Ky. should tighten limits on gatherings and restaurants, close bars where positive tests are up

Screenshot from White House Coronavirus Task Force report

A report prepared for the White House Coronavirus Task Force recommended that Gov. Andy Beshear should close bars in all counties with rising percentages of positive tests for the coronavirus, limit social gatherings to no more than 10 people, decrease indoor restaurant capacity to 25 percent and “increase outdoor dining opportunities.”

The recommendations were in a previously unpublicized document published by the Center for Public Integrity, a nonprofit newsroom based in Washington, D.C. It is unclear whether the recommendations were delivered to states. ProPublica reports, “Dr. Deborah Birx, a leader of the task force, referenced an earlier version of what appears to be the same report — which she said was updated weekly and sent to governors — in a press conference July 8.”

If adopted, the recommendations would be significant rollbacks; Beshear has limited bars and restaurants to 50 percent capacity and allowed gatherings of up to 50 people. The governor said Sunday that he would have to take action in response to a surge of daily new cases, particularly the new record set Sunday.

The report listed states and counties in a “red zone” if they had more than 100 new cases per 100,000 population in the previous week. It said that was true of five Kentucky counties and listed them in this order: Shelby, Graves, Carroll, Casey and Carlisle.

It said people living in red zones should reduce their public interactions and activities to 25 percent of normal; not go to bars, nightclubs and gyms, which should be closed; and wear a mask at all times outside the home, among other precautions.

The report said the state was in a “yellow zone” because its positive-test rate had exceeded 5 percent, but said it was in the red zone in terms of cases, with a 51 percent increase in the previous week. That trend has continued since, with a the seven-day rolling average of new cases setting records six days in a row and Sunday’s new-case number of 979 exceeding the old record by hundreds.

It said 54 counties were in the yellow zone and listed the top 12: Jefferson, Fayette, Warren, Boone, Laurel, Daviess, Hardin, Christian, Campbell, Knox, Bell and Hopkins.

The report said the state’s positive-test rate in the previous week was 7.8 percent, much higher than the rates of 4 to 5 percent than state officials have been reporting. It said the rate had increased 1.2 percentage points from the previous week. State officials have not explained this discrepancy.

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