Kentucky’s covid-19 report has good and bad news in it today; Beshear says he will talk about schools tomorrow

Kentucky Health News chart; daily numbers are often adjusted slightly after initial report.

By Melissa Patrick
Kentucky Health News

The good news is that Kentucky had fewer coronavirus cases in the reporting week that ended Sunday, Gov. Andy Beshear said. The bad news, he said, is that the percentage of Kentuckians testing positive for the virus keeps rising.

Gov. Andy Beshear in his Facebook video Sunday

“We’re ending the week with about 300-and-change less cases that we had last week,” Beshear said in a Facebook post on Sunday’s covid-19 report. “That’s directly attributable to people wearing their facial coverings or mask. Please, keep it up, wear them even more, especially when you are inside.”

Then he said, “On the bad side, our positivity rate, which won’t be official until tomorrow for this week, will be higher, meaning that the virus continues to spread aggressively.”

Saturday’s positive test rate was 6.02 percent, the highest it’s been since May, when the state tested the entire Green River Correctional Complex in Central City. Health experts consider rates above 5% cause for concern.

Beshear reported 425 new cases of the virus on Sunday, about 375 fewer than yesterday, but higher than a typical report on a Sunday, when fewer testing labs report to the state. The seven-day rolling average fell a bit to 555; it has been between 528 and 592 for the past week. The three-day average is 600.

Beshear pointed out that nine counties had 10 or more new cases Sunday, and Health Commissioner Steven Stack said all but five counties saw rising case counts last week.

Jefferson County had nearly 32% of Sunday’s new cases, at 135. Other counties with more than 10 were Fayette, 47; Pulaski and Taylor, with 19 each; Hardin and Madison, with 13 each; Casey and Warren, with 12 each; and Wayne, 11.

“Covid-19 is still out there and it’s still a threat,” Stack said in a news release. “We are encouraged, though, by the many Kentuckians taking this seriously and taking steps to keep themselves and others safer, including wearing a mask.”

The state’s top doctor called on Kentuckians to continue to do the things that are known to mitigate the risk of getting or spreading the virus.

“Every time we take steps, such as wearing masks and social distancing, it impacts how many Kentuckians will test positive, how many businesses, schools and other places where we gather can remain open, and how many Kentuckians will get hurt,” Stack said.

He also reminded Kentuckians to limit their outings and to make sure to wear a mask, social distance and practice good hand hygiene when you do go out: “When you and your household members leave your home, be aware that it increases your risk of exposure.”

In addition, he called on Kentuckians to practice good, old-fashioned public-health precautions, offering a longer list than usual:

“Continue to wear a mask. When possible, walk or bike to your destination or take your own vehicle. Avoid interacting closely with people and unnecessarily touching things. Keep disinfecting wipes or hand sanitizer with you. Wash your hands frequently. If you sneeze, sneeze into your elbow. If you sneeze into a cloth mask, wash your mask when you get home.”
The state reported one more covid-19 death Sunday, raising its toll to 773. The fatality was s a 71-year-old man from Pulaski County. The daily report did not provide today’s covid-19 hospitalization data.
Beshear said he would talk Monday about a possible recommendation about schools at tomorrow’s 4 p.m. press conference.

“We certainly need to get control of this virus to protect our teachers and our students,” he said.

Beshear said Wednesday that a continued high positive-test rate might prompt him to recommend again that in-person schooling be delayed. On July 27, he recommended that it not begin until the third week of August, but those decisions are up to local school officials.

The Kentucky Education Association, the statewide teachers’ union and a major Beshear ally, said Friday, “In-person instruction should not resume until, at a minimum, the infection rate in Kentucky statewide and the infection in the county in which the school district is located both fall below 4% and both remain below 4% for 21 consecutive days as measured by a 7-day rolling average.”

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