Ky. has deadliest covid-19 day yet, with 22 fatalities; Beshear gives ‘State of the Pandemic’ address that touches many bases

The State Police honor guard hung a wreath in the rotunda of the state Capitol Thursday
to honor the more than 1,000 covid-19 victims in Kentucky. (Photo from governor’s office)

By Melissa Patrick
Kentucky Health News

In what he called a “State of the Pandemic” address, on Kentucky’s deadliest day yet, Gov. Andy Beshear reminded his constituents that their actions matter when it comes to protecting each other and the state as a whole.

“We are asking so little, just small but powerful actions that may save somebody’s life,” he said. “Everything over the coming months – our lives, our economy and our children’s education – depends on how we address this virus.”

Beshear’s speech, which replaced his daily news conference, was announced Wednesday, as the state’s official covid-19 death count passed 1,000. In it, he reported 22 more deaths, setting a daily record and bringing the toll to 1,035. The previous record was 20, on May 19.

The 15-minute address reflected on the course of the pandemic and included remarks professional, political and personal. The governor said most of his decisions have been difficult, and “I am way past politics or concerns about popularity.” He added a bit later, “From the beginning, here in Kentucky, we have blazed our own path – not a path of red states or blue states, but a path of our state.”

Beshear, a Democrat, narrowly won his job last fall largely because Republican Gov. Matt Bevin was so controversial. The General Assembly is led by Republicans, who frequently criticize the governor’s management of the pandemic. Two hours before his speech, a legislative committee ended a two-hour grilling of Health Commissioner Steven Stack.

Beshear said, “I’ve made the very best decisions that I could, reducing commercial and social gatherings, limiting travel, and most importantly, instituting a statewide mask mandate. All these steps generated criticism. But all of them are working. . . . We beat every prediction.”

Beshear noted that the White House Coronavirus Task Force supports the mask mandate, and he reprimanded those who claim the state’s covid-19 death rates are inflated since most fatalities are older and have underlying conditions.

“Shame on anybody, including many of our legislators and those that sit online all day who claim those deaths aren’t real,” he said. “There’s one thousand families that will tell you that they are very real and very painful. Let’s be better than that.”

He said that when the pandemic arrived, “We learned maybe for the first time in our lives that we were all connected. . . . Our actions could result in saving another person’s life, or taking it.”

Beshear said he is committed to not experiment with the lives of Kentuckians and that his decisions have been made after watching what happens in other states that were determined to be first. He said more caution will be needed heading into the season of flu, which has symptoms similar to covid-19.

“We must be extra careful, because we’re now fighting covid-19 along with other viruses and diseases that often spike as we approach the fall or the winter, like the flu,” he said. The day before, he encouraged Kentuckians to get a flu shot, saying it is one of  the best things they can do while waiting for a vaccine, which is unlikely to be widely available this year.

Beshear announced 805 new cases of the coronavirus Thursday. His news release reported that 122 of them are 18 and younger, and 19 are 5 and under.

The seven-day average of Kentuckians testing positive for the virus inched up to 4.14%, after staying below 4% for two days in a row.

In other covid-19 news Thursday:

  • The fatalities were an 84-year-old man from Barren County; an 86-year-old man from Bullitt County; an 81-year-old man from Campbell County; a 76-year-old woman from Daviess County; a 53-year-old woman from Fayette County; a 78-year-old woman from Grayson County; a 101-year-old woman from Green County; a 55-year-old man from Harlan County; an 80-year-old man and five women, 70, 73, 82, 86 and 102, from Jefferson County; a 100-year-old woman and a 75-year-old man from Marion County; a 60-year-old man from Monroe County; a 77-year-old man from Nelson County; and from Warren County, two women 83 and 90, and two men 82 and 84.
  • Counties with 10 or more new cases are Jefferson, 185; Warren, 73; Fayette, 61; Madison, 48; Oldham, 21; Daviess, 18; Hardin and Kenton, 14 each; Boyd, Christian, Grayson and Laurel, 13 each; and Boone, Greenup and Jessamine, 10 each.
  • The state’s daily report shows 565 people hospitalized in Kentucky for covid-19, and 133 of them in intensive care.
  • The daily daily long-term care facility shows 30 more residents and 26 more staff have tested positive for the virus and 496 residents and 325 staff have active cases of it. The death totals from the facilities are 588 residents and five employees.
  • Lexington reported three new deaths Thursday, all from Pine Meadows nursing home, which now has lost 25 residents to covid-19, Jeremy Chisenhall reports for the Lexington Herald-Leader. The long-term-care report shows this facility has one of the highest covid-19 death tolls.
  • The K-12 school report shows 33 more students and seven more staff have tested positive for the virus and 378 students and 156 staff have active cases of it.
  • The college and university report shows 32 institutions now have at least one case of the virus, with 28 more students and six more staff testing positive for the virus. It shows 1,070 students and 46 staff have active cases of the virus.
  • “Democrats blocked Senate Republicans’ whittled-down $300 billion coronavirus aid package from advancing Thursday, as the prospect of passing more relief to households and businesses by Election Day continued to dim,” The Wall Street Journal reports. Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, a deficit hawk, was the only “no” GOP vote.
  • The University of Kentucky has announced it will allow 12,000 fans, or about 20% of the Kroger Field capacity, at home football games this season. Masks will be required, a maximum of 10 persons will be allowed in suites, and tailgating will not be allowed. The plan is still subject to Beshear’s approval. Other in-state schools like the University of Louisville and Western Kentucky University (which will play Saturday night at U of L) have also limited capacity to 20%. No season tickets will be issued, Derek Terry reports for CatsPause.
  • Alex Acquisto of the Herald-Leader reports on the many challenges faced by local health departments as they work to share factual information with their communities about the novel coronavirus. Josh Embry, director of the Grayson County Health Department, told her that comments on social media got so bad that he quit providing daily updates on such platforms. Updates still go to Leitchfield’s radio station and two newspapers. Embry wrote on Facebook on Aug. 21, “Due to aggressive comments toward staff at GCHD, inappropriate comments unsuitable for others to read, the GCHD will cease releasing covid-19 data on our social media accounts.” Other health departments shared similar stories, Acquisto reports.
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