Beshear implores protesters to wear masks as he announces 796 new cases; Dr. Anthony Fauci rebukes Sen. Rand Paul

Incidence rates of the coronavirus as of Sept. 23; for a larger image, click on it.

By Melissa Patrick
Kentucky Health News
Gov. Andy Beshear announced 796 new cases of the novel coronavirus Wednesday, bringing the state’s unadjusted seven-day average back up to 696, where it was a week ago. The record is 715, set Sept. 4.
He reported that the share of Kentuckians testing positive for the virus in the past seven days was 4.59 percent, which is slightly up from 4.52% yesterday and noticeably up from the seven days before that, when it stayed below 4%.
Most of today’s daily briefing focused on a grand jury’s decision Wednesday to indict only one of the three Louisville Metro Police Department officers involved in Breonna Taylor’s shooting death in Louisville. Addressing the protesters, Beshear pleaded with them to wear a mask.
“So what I’d ask is everybody, including those that may march tonight or those that are going to go inside their house of worship . . . please, please, please wear a mask, especially if you are inside with a group of people we need you to wear a mask,” he said.
The governor announced five more deaths from covid-19, bringing the state’s total to 1,124.
“We’ve already talked about one tragic loss today,” he said. “Let’s make sure that we prevent others,” referring to the importance of masks and social distancing in large crowds to prevent the spread of the disease that has now killed 202,000 Americans.
In Washington, U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, an ophthalmologist, and Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, clashed again at a Senate committee hearing.
When Paul strongly suggested that said New York’s falling infection rate is a result of herd immunity, created when enough of a population is immune that the spread of a disease is thwarted, Fauci shot back, “I challenge that, Senator. This happens with Senator Rand all the time; you are not listening to what the director of the CDC said [earlier in the meeting]. If you believe 22 percent is herd immunity, I believe you’re alone in that.”
Generally, epidemiologists say herd immunity requires at least 50 percent of the population to be immune, and it can be as high as 90 percent, depending on how contagious the disease is. The figure for the novel coronavirus has not been estimated yet.
On Wednesday, the state reported 123 more K-12 students and 69 more employees had tested positive for the virus.  In total, 441 students and 233 staff have active cases.
Of today’s new cases, Beshear said 111 were in Kentuckians 18 and under.
At colleges and universities, the state reported 348 new cases in students and one new employee case. The daily report shows 1,429 college students and 45 staff currently have active cases of the virus.
Due to an increase in coronavirus cases, the University of Pikeville  instituted a 72-hour quarantine at 8 p.m. Sept. 21 and is working with the Pike County Health Department to trace all the people who may have come in contact with infected individuals, Buddy Forbes reports for Lexington’s WKYT.
President Burton Webb told the station, “In an era of covid, we can’t guarantee perfect safety. No one can do that. This virus is out, it’s in the community; it’s around the world and it is creating problems. But we’ll do everything possible to limit those infections to the lowest possible number that we can.”
The quarantine requires students to stay in their rooms, unless getting food. As of Sept. 23, the university’s covid-19 dashboard shows 19 active cases.
In other covid-19 news Wednesday:
  • The state’s daily report shows 530 people were hospitalized with covid-19 in Kentucky and 123 were in intensive care.
  • In long-term care, the state reported 43 more residents and 36 more staff tested positive for the virus, for a total of 559 active resident cases and 395 active staff cases.
  • Counties with 10 or more new cases were Jefferson, 194; Barren, 56; Fayette, 38; Warren, 33; Daviess, 27; Hardin, 20; Bullitt, 18; Whitley, 17; Kenton and Knox, 16 each; Boone, 14; Estill, Henderson, Madison, Montgomery, and Oldham, 13 each; Knott, 12; and Scott, 11.
  • Wednesday’s fatalities were a 99-year-old woman from Christian County; a 50-year-old man and two women, ages 81 and 84, from Jefferson County; and an 83-year-old man from Marshall County.
  • Beginning this week, some University of Kentucky students living on campus who are quarantined due to exposure to covid-19 will be invited to participate in a study to determine if a testing strategy that requires them to be tested via nasal swab on days three, five, seven, 10 and 14 of their quarantine is predictive of them remaining negative for all 14 days, the typical length of time for quarantine. “The goal is to determine if students testing negative early in quarantine will remain negative on day 14, possibly leading to data that can lessen current protocols for a 14-day quarantine period,” Jill Kolesar, professor in the UK College of Pharmacy and co-principal investigator for the study, said in the news release.
  • President Trump said the Food and Drug Administration’s plans for strict criteria to authorize emergency use of a coronavirus vaccine seems political, and the White House will review any such criteria the agency develops, Inside Health Policy reports. FDA officials recently said their guidance might require a one- to two-month waiting period after a vaccine trial, to check for delayed side effects, before authorizing emergency use.
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