7-day case average sets a record, with fifth highest daily total; 12 more die; schools in major metros not joining others in opening

Kentucky Health News graph, based on initial, unadjusted daily reports; click on it for larger version

By Melissa Patrick and Al Cross
Kentucky Health News

Gov. Andy Beshear announced 930 new cases of the coronavirus Friday, the fifth highest daily total since the state reported its first case 203 days ago.

The number brought Kentucky’s unadjusted seven-day rolling average of daily new cases to a new high of 736, a big jump from Thursday’s 713. The previous record, 715, was set Sept. 4.

“We cannot continue to have days where we have 900-plus cases,” Beshear said in a release. “Please put on your mask. Please engage in social distancing. The lives and the health of the Kentuckians around us depend on it.”

The share of Kentuckians testing positive for the virus in the past seven days was 4.48%, similar to the last four days.

Of today’s new cases, 131 were Kentuckians 18 and under, 23 of whom were children 5 and under. The youngest was 2 months old.

Beshear reported 12 more deaths from covid-19, bringing the state’s death toll from the disease to 1,149.

“Today’s covid report is far too many cases, and unfortunately far too many people who we’ve lost,” said Beshear. “This virus has come for us. We have to fight back.”

Most schools are expected to be open Monday, the earliest date Beshear said in-person instruction should begin, but the virus continues to be an obstacle to face-to-face classes in the state’s largest metropolitan areas.

Under Supt. Marty Pollio’s latest plan, Jefferson County Public Schools wouldn’t begin phasing in face-to-face classes until Oct. 22, and maybe not even then, if Louisville Metro’s infection rate doesn’t decline substantially.

The plan, which the school board will discusss Tuesday, would begin elementary classes Oct, 22, sixth and ninth grades Oct. 29, and the rest Nov. 5 — if the county’s infection rate drops below 10 cases per 100,000 people. It is now 16.4.

“Pollio said a board vote establishing firm return dates would take place at a later time and be based on improved public health data,” the Courier Journal reports. “Friday marked the 22nd day of remote learning for JCPS students. But dozens of other Kentucky school districts have gone against Beshear’s wishes and already brought children back into classrooms.”

The Fayette County Board of Education took no action Friday at a meeting called to discuss returning to school after the county moved into the worst level, red, of the state’s color-coded system intended to guide decisions of school districts, Valarie Honeycutt Spears reports for the Lexington Herald-Leader.

Fayette County dropped barely into the orange level Friday, with 24.8 cases per 100,000. The red threshold, 25, comes with guidance to stop in-person schooling and athletic events. School officials had hoped to resume face-to-face classed Oct. 5, but Supt. Manny Caulk “said Friday that under the ‘worst case scenario,’ the school district may be looking at continuing remote learning until a covid-19 vaccine becomes available,” the Herald-Leader reports/

One challenge in Lexington is that 26 percent of its cases are in college students, most of them at the University of Kentucky. Lance Poston, a UK official helping run the university’s response to the pandemic, told the school board that only 5.5 percent of total exposures in UK’s tracking system are among Fayette County residents not affiliated with UK – “meaning the university is not contributing in any substantive way to what would be characterized as community spread,” the newspaper reports.

Off-campus parties involving UK students could be contributing to the increase in cases, Rick Childress reports for the Herald-Leader. UK received 10 reports last weekend about off-campus parties in nearby neighborhoods, and over Derby weekend, Lexington police said they got nearly 30 calls for noise complaints potentially linked to student parties, Childress reports.

In other covid-19 news Friday:

  • Friday’s fatalities were an 86-year-old woman from Campbell County; an 85-year-old woman from Fayette County; an 86-year-old man from Fulton County; a 68-year-old woman from Grayson County; a 94-year-old woman and a 92-year-old man from Jefferson County; a 78-year-old man from Madison County; a 79-year-old man from Marshall County; a 74-year-old woman from McCracken County; and a 73-year-old man and two women, 62 and 96, from Warren County.
  • Counties with 10 or more new cases in the daily report were Jefferson, 200; Fayette, 85; Christian, 40; Daviess, 30; Warren, 29; Laurel and Madison, 26 each; Hardin, 21; Henderson and Pike, 17 each; Kenton, Knott, McCracken, and Whitley, 15 each; Campbell, Greenup, and Mercer, 13 each; Oldham, 12; Clay and Knox, 11 each; Harlan, Scott, and Shelby, 10 each.
  • The daily report shows 553 people are hospitalized in Kentucky for covid-19 and 130 are in intensive care.
  • The long-term care report shows 67 more residents and 54 more staff have tested positive for the virus, with 571 active resident cases and 446 active staff cases. The report shows 648 resident deaths and five staff deaths associated with these facilities.
  • The college and university report shows six more students and one more employee have tested positive for the virus, with 1,403 active student cases and 46 active employee cases.
  • The K-12 schools report shows 114 more students and 18 more employees have tested positive for the virus, with 685 active student cases and 306 active employee cases.
  • About 20,000 more people will die from the coronavirus by mid-October, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention predicts.
  • A recent CDC report said adults aged 20-29 accounted for more than 20% of total covid-19 cases between June and August, outpacing all other age groups in the U.S. The study, published in the agency’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report on Wednesday, also suggests 20-somethings are a major driver of community spread of the virus. The Herald-Leader reviews the study. In Kentucky, 12,825 of the state’s 65,066 cases are in those between the ages of 20-29, the highest total number of cases of all of the age groups.
  • Medpage Today‘s Kristina Fiore explores the issue of “reshoring” production of personal protective equipment from other nations to the U.S., citing N95 masks as an example of American dependence on foreign suppliers: “Some companies have indeed boosted domestic PPE production capacity, but to make the U.S. self-sufficient in meeting its PPE needs for the next pandemic — or even to continue to meet the needs of the current one — it would take a sea change, industry representatives and analysts told MedPage Today.”
  • The Kaiser Family Foundation takes a deep dive into the effects of children’s health and well-being during the pandemic, including health risks from school openings and closures, social-distancing policies, loss of family income, and disruptions in health and social services, and what needs to happen in the future.
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