Beshear administration lays out detailed guidance for schools to consider throughout the pandemic, says it’s up to them to follow it
State chart available here, or click on this one for a larger version.
By Melissa Patrick
Kentucky Health News
Kentucky’s school officials got Monday what they’d long been asking for, a plan that helps them decide whether to open their schools, based on a dashboard of data that will be regularly updated – and maybe more importantly, assurance from Gov. Andy Beshear that he won’t be offering them any more advice on how to manage their districts.
“Let me be clear that there is not going to be an overall recommendation coming from me or my office, post-September 28th,” Beshear said, referring to the date he recommended that in-person schooling resume. “What’s going to be provided is the information to make a week-by-week decision in our various school districts and counties based on prevalence and what public health and experts believe is the right course based on that prevalence.”
But Health Commissioner Steven Stack said if the rate of Kentuckians testing positive for the novel coronavirus shoots up to more than 10% and hospitals are running out of beds, “We’re going to come back, and we’re going to step in, and we’re going to give different guidance.”
Stack explained that schools will need to look at two things to determine if they should be holding in-person classes: the statewide percentage of people testing positive for the virus, which needs to be under 6%, and a color-coded map that shows the prevalence of the coronavirus in their community.
Schools will need to start submitting this data Sept. 28, but Stack said schools already doing in-person learning can go ahead and start submitting it.
|Sam Griffin, 6, created this sign for the Lexington protest.
(Photo by Arden Barnes, Lexington Herald-Leader)
In Lexington, which has seen a surge of cases partly driven by students at the University of Kentucky, Fayette County school officials said they wouldn’t resume in-person classes “until at least after the fall break on Oct. 1 and 2 . . . as a group of parents rallied outside Central Office for an immediate return,” Valarie Honeycutt Spears reports for the Lexington Herald-Leader.
UK’s efforts to thwart the virus got an on-site endorsement Monday from Dr. Deborah Birx, response coordinator for the White House Coronavirus Task Force. She said UK has an “incredibly sophisticated” plan to test, detect and quarantine or isolate students, Alex Acquisto reports for the Herald-Leader: “She said as long as it continues to function in the way it has, and as long as students continue to wear masks, the university shouldn’t need to close before holiday break” on Nov. 25.
The share of Kentuckians testing positive for the virus in the last seven days was 4.17%. It has remained under 5% for about three weeks.
They were a 71-year-old woman from Christian County; two men, ages 77 and 80, from Fayette County; an 82-year-old woman from Pulaski County; and a 49-year-old man from Shelby County, which he pointed out to show the disease doesn’t kill only old people.
“If you’re a person – whether you’re in the state legislature over there or you’re at home on your keyboard – that is saying, ‘Oh, but these people are older,’ unh-unh, shame on you. These are children of God, just like everyone else, who deserved more time on this planet,” Beshear said. “Their life is just as important as everybody else’s. The moment that we desensitize ourselves to the fact that even a 90-something-year-old has more time with his or her family, grandkids, maybe great-grandkids, and covid takes it from them – it’s not acceptable.”
|Rebecca Shadowen, M.D.|
The governor honored the lost life of a doctor who was at the forefront of fighting covid-19 in one of the state’s hotspots. Dr. Rebecca Shadowen, an infectious-disease specialist and epidemiologist at Med Center Health in Bowling Green, died Friday after battling the disease for four months. Beshear showed part of an interview in which Shadowen encouraged Kentuckians to wear a mask.
- In long-term care facilities, the daily report showed 12 new residents and 11 new staff tested positive for the virus and 517 residents and 361 staff had active cases of it. The report shows 598 residents and five staff have died from covid-19.
- The K-12 school report shows 10 more students and two more employees have tested positive for the virus and 321 students and 157 employees with active cases.
- The college and university report shows 119 more students have tested positive, and no more employees. The report shows 1,155 students and 49 employees have active cases.
- Counties with 10 or more cases on the state’s daily report were Jefferson, 86; Fayette, 40; Hardin, 12; Madison, 11; and Bullitt, 10.
- The report shows 504 people are hospitalized in Kentucky with covid-19 and 119 of them are in intensive care.
- Beshear announced that over 1 million coronavirus tests have been done in the state.
- The state advisory against travel to states with positive-test rates of 15%, and for self-quarantine if they do, only applies now to only three states: South Dakota, Alabama and Idaho.
- Pfizer Inc. announced that it will likely know by Oct. 31 whether its coronavirus vaccine is effective, and if it is, the company plans to begin distribution by the end of the year but does not believe the vaccine will be widely available to the general public until 2021.
- The top spokesman for the Department of Health and Human Services “accused the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of harboring a ‘resistance unit’ determined to undermine President Trump,” reports Sharon LaFraniere of The New York Times. She writes that Michael Caputo, who has tried to “warp CDC weekly bulletins to fit Mr. Trump’s pandemic narrative,” also “said left-wing hit squads were preparing for armed insurrection after the election,” and “suggested that he personally could be in danger.” She quotes remarks from a video on his Facebook page: “If you carry guns, buy ammunition, ladies and gentlemen, because it’s going to be hard to get.”
- Beshear announced that with the addition of a donation of 2 million masks from Ford Motor Co., the largest gift yet, the state has almost reached its goal of having enough personal protective equipment to last 120 days in the event of a surge of cases. Health-care providers are required to have 14 days’ supply on hand.
|Gov. Andy Beshear said the state PPE warehouse would be full by Sept. 30. (Facebook)|