Beshear and family quarantine after security-detail member tests positive; 852 new cases, 2nd biggest Sunday, makes record week chart shows estimated virus reproduction rate; shaded area is possible range.

By Al Cross
Kentucky Health News

Gov. Andy Beshear and his family are in quarantine because a member of their security detail tested positive for the coronavirus, Beshear announced Sunday.

He also reported 852 new cases of the virus in Kentucky, the second highest Sunday and far above the average for recent Sundays, usually a low-case day.

One new case apparently was the state trooper who Beshear said dropped them off late Saturday afternoon and learned of a positive test that night.

“The first family was not in contact with anyone else following exposure,” A press release from Beshear’s office said. He said his family and the trooper wore facial coverings in the vehicle, but will quarantine because the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the state Department for Public Health recommend it for anyone who is within six feet of a positive-testing person for more than 15 minutes.

“The Beshear family has been committed, since the start of covid-19, to set an example of doing all those things that we’re asking Kentuckians to do,” including cooperating with contact tracing of infected people, Beshear said in a video.

“Yesterday, we got that call . . . so we are doing what those tracers asked us and others do to. We’re gonna be quarantining until the Department for Public Health says that we’ve completed what we need to. We want to make sure we’re setting the example and also that we’re keeping people around us safe, that we are walking the walk and not just talking the talk.”

Beshear said he and his family have tested negative, are feeling well and have no symptoms. He said he would work from the Executive Mansion near the Capitol and give his daily briefings via video from there.

The news release noted that the family is in quarantine, not isolation, which “is used to separate people infected with . . . the virus that causes covid-19 from people who are not infected.”

Daily numbers and some suggestions: The 852 new cases Sunday were far above any other Sunday, except the 979 reported in July 19, near the peak of the last major surge in cases. The average for the 11 Sundays between that one and this one is 444. Case numbers on Sundays are usually the lowest of a week because of limited testing and reporting on weekends.

The big number also gave the state’s Monday-to-Sunday reporting week the highest number of cases yet. The total of 7,792 includes 1,472 from a reporting backlog in Fayette County, but even if that number is subtracted, the 6,320 remainder is still the highest for a week. The state issues adjusted, final numbers on Mondays; about 1.5 percent of cases are removed from the initial totals after duplicate test results are removed.

Counties with 10 or more new cases were: Jefferson, 176; Fayette, 72; Warren, 35; Madison, 31; Boone, 28; Kenton, 23; Calloway, 21; Hardin, 20; Bullitt, Christian and McCracken, 19 each; Pike, 16; Scott, 15; Knox, 14; Campbell and Daviess, 13 each; Henderson and Pulaski, 12 each; and Greenup, 11.

Beshear announced three more deaths from covid-19, bringing the state’s toll to 1,252: a 33-year-old man from Jefferson County, a 60-year-old man from Hopkins County and a 70-year-old woman from Warren County.

The news release noted that “congregate-care settings” still account for a large share of the deaths. Through Friday, 59% were residents of long-term-care facilities. Also, “Social gatherings and settings where people are in proximity to each other for extended periods of time continue to give rise to clusters of cases.”

Health Commissioner Steven Stack said, “With the disease so widespread in Kentucky now, the risk of all of us getting exposed is high if we don’t all do our part to socially distance, wear masks and practice good hand hygiene.

“I’ll add one other thing today – emotionally regulate yourself. By this, I mean it’s normal to miss the things we used to do with a lot of other people, like fall festivals, church services and sporting events. Acknowledge what you miss, then make a plan for what you can do. Take a drive to view the colors of the changing leaves. Take a pumpkin walk around your neighborhood. Join a covid-19 weight-loss challenge. It’s OK to acknowledge that something’s been lost, but we don’t have to wallow in the moment. And, remind yourself that a vaccine is coming and there’s reason to be hopeful.”

In other coronavirus news Sunday:

  • Former Food and Drug Administration commissioner Scott Gottlieb said on CBS‘s “Face the Nation” that the virus is clearly in a national resurgence. “The hospitalizations are the clearest objective measure of rising infections around the country,” he said. “We’re in a difficult situation heading into the fall.”
  • Gottlieb pointed to high reproduction-transmission rates of the virus in most states. The website estimates Kentucky’s statewide rate at 1.19. That is the highest rate recorded but equals the rate estimated for June 21-25, a period that preceded the early-July surge that prompted Beshear to mandate mask wearing. At that rate, on average, every 100 infected persons are infecting 119 more.
  • Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, said his seven-month-old comments in a Michigan campaign commercial for President Trump were used without his permission and taken out of context because he does not endorse candidates and was taking “about the efforts of federal public health officials.” Trump’s campaign said the ad is accurate, Fox News reports.
  • The Washington Post has oral histories of covid-19 victims and others who are dealing with the coronavirus.
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