New coronavirus cases above 800 and positive-test rate over 6%; Beshear calls it a ‘tough day,’ says ‘We simply need to do better’

Kentucky Health News chart; daily figures may be revised slightly after initial report

By Melissa Patrick

Kentucky Health News
After nearly two weeks of coronavirus case numbers on a rough plateau in Kentucky, they jumped to 801 Saturday, and perhaps more worrisome, the seven-day average of Kentuckians testing positive rose to 6.02 percent, from 5.57% the day before
“Today is a tough day in our fight against covid-19,” Gov. Andy Beshear said in a press release and a Facebook video. “I know we are slowing the growth of this virus in Kentucky, but it’s still aggressive.” He said, “We simply need to do better.”
The 801 new cases was the third largest daily number, behind the 979 and 836 reported on July 19 and 25. On the latter day, the state’s seven-day rolling average was 668, the highest it has been. Saturday, it increased to 560, and the three-day rolling average rose to 630.
And likely of greater concern, the share of Kentuckians testing positive for the virus has crept up as this week has progressed, increasing from 5.18% on Monday to Saturday’s rate of 6.02%, the highest it’s been since May, when the state tested the entire Green River Correctional Facility in Central City, Beshear said. Rates above 5% are considered cause for concern.
“Folks, we need your help,” Beshear said. “This is the time where we must buckle down and do what it takes to get this virus under control. With this increase in positivity rate, we’ll talk next week about what that means for school and in-person classes. We’ve got to make sure that it’s safe for our students and for our teachers.”
Beshear spoke in a Facebook video.

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 state teachers’ union, said Friday that “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.”
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseasestold Lawrence Smith of Louisville’s WDRB that Kentucky’s rising percentage of positive tests puts the state in danger of becoming a covid-19 hotspot, but he said there is time to turn things around.
“That has been, in our experience, a sure-fire predictor that if you don’t do something different than what you’re already doing, those little upticks — as small and insignificant as they may seem — don’t turn around spontaneously by themselves,” Fauci told Smith. “You got to do something different.”
“We are not powerless” against the virus, Dr. Steven Stack, commissioner of the state Department of Public Health, said in the news release.
“We have shown repeatedly that our individual actions will determine our future,” Stack said. “Will you continue to wear a face covering? Are you keeping at least six feet distance between yourself and others? Are you washing your hands frequently? And, if you receive a call from a contact tracer, will you answer? If each of us answers ‘Yes!’ through our actions, we can keep Kentuckians safe and keep Kentucky open. Together, Team Kentucky can contain the coronavirus.”
On Saturday, 93 of the state’s 120 counties reported at least one new case and 28 of them were in children under five.
Beshear said, “This is spreading all over the state and we simply need to do better, keeping our social distance, not having people, more than 10, over to our homes, making sure we reduce our contacts and not traveling to the beach because we are seeing so much spread from people who continue to travel to states with high positivity rates.”
Beshear didn’t mention his mask mandate, which he reinstated for another 30 days Thursday. On Friday, Stack said wearing a mask is the linchpin to keeping Kentucky’s economy open and minimizing the spread of disease. He was speaking at a Kentucky Chamber of Commerce “Restart Kentucky” webinar.
The state’s daily report shows that 653 people were hospitalized for covid-19 Saturday, down from 717 Friday, with 149 of them in intensive care, up from 136 on Friday.
Jefferson County had nearly 25% of the new cases, at 197. Other counties with more than 10 were Fayette, 80; Warren, 35; Hardin, 32; Oldham, 29; Madison, 28; Boone, 21; Kenton, 20; Graves and Pike, 17 each; Daviess, 15; Whitley, 13; Pulaski, 12; Campbell, 11; and Casey, 10.
The state reported eight more covid-19 deaths Saturday, raising its toll to 772. The fatalities were a 64-year-old woman from Fulton County; a 56-year-old woman from Kenton County; a 68-year-old man from Bell County; a 93-year-old man from Christian County; a 97-year-old woman, also from Christian County; a 66-year-old woman from Pulaski County; an 82-year-old woman from Clinton County, and a 73-year-old woman from Muhlenberg County.
In other covid-19 news Saturday:
  • Fauci told Louisville radio personality Terry Meiners Friday that if people do attend the Kentucky Derby, they should wear mask and social distance, Sarah Ladd reports for the Louisville Courier Journal. “The good news is that it’s outdoor, as opposed to indoor,” Fauci said on WHAS. “If you can physically separate yourself, and the organizers keep people six feet apart and you wear a mask or a facial covering, you are much better off than if you didn’t do that.”
  • John Cheves reports for the Lexington Herald-Leader that Kentucky’s child care system has been in decline for years because of inadequate funding, but faced with covid-19 is “now collapsing”  “With most centers, it’s always been a struggle to break even, let alone make a profit,”Cindy McGaha, professor of child development at Berea College, told Cheves. “So when we start doing things like restricting the number of children that we can care for and the number of adults that can be with the children during the day, that increases the costs dramatically. So you’ve got these centers that always struggled, and now they’re in the red and they just cannot provide that care. They cannot stay open any longer.”
  • Coronavirus outbreaks at the Fayette County Detention Center increased to 44 inmates and two employees, Karla Ward reports for the Herald-Leader. A news release said that so far, 93 inmates had been tested and that test results for 32 of the inmates were pending; 17 tested negative.
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