With cases over 1,250 second day in a row, Beshear sees ‘most serious’ surge and ‘time when we either succeed or begin to fail’

Kentucky Health News graph, based on state’s unadjusted daily case numbers,
does not include 1,472 backlogged Fayette County cases recorded on Oct. 7.

By Lisa Gillespie

Kentucky Health News

For the second straight day, Gov. Andy Beshear announced more than 1,250 cases of the novel coronavirus, calling it “the most serious” of three escalations during the pandemic and using some of his strongest language yet, pleading with Kentuckians to wear masks and keep their distance.

“This is a time when we either succeed or begin to fail,” Beshear said. “I’m begging you. If we don’t do what it takes now, that level [of cases] will be way too high moving into the winter. Today’s report is an example of that.”

The state recorded 1,260 new cases on Thursday, after a record 1,346 Wednesday. The new seven-day rolling average of daily new cases is 991, another record.
“Everybody ought to be concerned and doing the right thing,” Beshear said. “Let’s push the complacency out and get the urgency back in.”

The governor also reported a rise in covid-19 hospitalizations: 738 people are in hospital with the disease in Kentucky, with 192 of those in intensive care.

“While we still have capacity in our health-care system, we are seeing an increase in hospitalizations, and an increase in the ICU,” Beshear said. “Sadly, if we continue to have this amount of cases we will have an increase in deaths.”

There was other bad news. The share of Kentuckians testing positive for the virus in the last seven days was 4.94%, which Beshear said was the highest in about a month, and he reported 20 more covid-19 deaths, one of the highest daily totals yet, raising the state’s toll to 1,296.

The fatalities were an 86-year-old man from Bracken County; a 71-year-old woman from Christian County; four women, 82, 88, 92 and 100, from Daviess County; two women, 74 and 96, from Greenup County; a 74-year-old man and two women, 92 and 97, and from Henderson County; a 64-year-old man and two women, 49 and 84, from Jefferson County; an 88-year-old woman from Knott County; an 80-year-old man from Pulaski County; a 72-year-old woman from Scott County; an 81-year-old man from Webster County; and an 85-year-old woman and a 73-year-old man from Whitley County.
Beshear also admonished people who resist efforts of local health-department employees to get people to wear masks and keep their distance. “People refuse. Sometimes they laugh at them. Sometimes they yell at them,” he said. “It’s time for better compliance.”

Covid-19 and the flu: Health Commissioner Steven Stack emphasized that covid-19 is more severe than influenza in many cases, and its long-term health effects are still unknown. The difference should cause Kentuckians to take measures like wearing masks seriously, he said.

For many, covid-19 is totally different from the flu. “People can seem to be stable, and then about eight or nine or 10 days into the illness, [they] just suddenly and severely decline,” Stack said. “You’re really not out of the woods until you’re a couple weeks after the beginning of this infection.”

Also, emerging research has found that patients have prolonged heart problems that can continue to cause issues weeks or months after the initial illness.

Vaccine trials: Beshear commented on three recent vaccine trials that were put on hold because study volunteers experienced adverse side effects. Scientists have said the news is actually positive and shows that drug companies are doing what they should be in pausing trials when there are safety concerns. Beshear echoed that sentiment.

“We shouldn’t take too much out of two of these trials being momentarily stalled because that happens,” Beshear said. “Effective vaccines have had to go through that same pause.”

In other coronavirus news Thursday:

  • Counties with more than 10 new cases were Jefferson, 230; Fayette, 164; Warren, 49; Hardin, Hopkins and McCracken, 27 each; Kenton, 24; Knox, 23; Knott, 22; Pike, 21; Bullitt, Calloway and Christian, 20 each; Campbell, Clay, Henderson, Laurel and Nelson, 19 each; Boone, 17; Muhlenberg, 17; Scott, 16; LaRue, 15; Hart, 14; Madison, 14; Barren, 13; Daviess. 13; Marshall. 12; and Boyle, Greenup, Logan and Taylor, 11 each.
  • In long-term care, 55 more residents and 56 new staffers tested positive for the virus, making for active cases among 867 residents and 587 staff, says the state’s long-term-care report. There have been 779 resident deaths and five staff deaths.
  • The state’s college and university report shows 496 students and five employees tested positive in the past 14 days.
  • The K-12 schools report shows 416 students and 208 employees tested positive in the last 14 days.
  • A second school employee died of covid-19 “as Fayette County is trying to facilitate a limited return to in-person learning in the next few weeks,” reports Valarie Honeycutt Spears of the Lexington Herald-Leader. Ruthie Martinez was a permanent substitute teacher at Winburn Middle School. A bus driver died earlier.
  • The Big Ten and Big 12 college conferences proceeded with plans to play football, after initially calling off the season. “This is the riskiest rill of the dice we have ever seen in college life, not just college sports,” USA Today columnist Christine Brennan told CNN, adding that universities are doing it for the money.
  • A warning for basketball: A study published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows the risk of spreading the virus through indoor sporting events that involve deep respiration. Researchers studied a June outbreak among players at recreational hockey game in Florida, involving men aged 19 to 53; of the 22 players, 13 tested positive.
  • ProPublica reports how the CDC, “the world’s greatest public health organization, was brought to its knees by a virus, the president and the capitulation of its own leaders, causing damage that could last much longer than the coronavirus.” The story’s first example: Vice President Pence’s office ordered the agency to not advise churches to stop or at least reduce choral singing, and it obeyed.
  • More from the report: “Interviews and documents show an insular, rigorous agency colliding head-on with an administration desperate to preserve the impression that it had the pandemic under control … The most heated disputes involved an HHS mental-health office that emphasized the role of schools as integral to the psychological well-being of children. … In August, the White House crafted new guidance from Trump. Titled ‘SCHOOLS SHOULD SAFELY REOPEN,’ it contradicted the CDC recommendations. … The CDC objected, but the White House published it anyway.”
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