Hospitalization figures again set new records, but poll suggests Kentuckians are less likely to give thanks outside their households

Polling for The New York Times showed Kentuckians are less likely than people in neighboring states to have Thanksgiving dinner outside their household.

By Al Cross
Kentucky Health News
The covid-19 burden on Kentucky hospitals got heavier Wednesday, as the state began a long holiday weekend that officials and health-care workers worry will bring so many more infections that hospitals will be overrun.

Every data point on covid-19 cases from Kentucky hospitals was a new record: 1,734 patients, 409 of them in intensive care, and 216 of those on ventilators.

The state reported 3,408 new cases of the novel coronavirus, its fourth largest daily total. The higher numbers were 3,825 last Friday, 3,711 last Saturday and 3,649 last Thursday.

Kentucky’s seven-day rolling average of new coronavirus cases, perhaps the best measure of the pandemic’s course, is a new record: 3,087.
Gov. Andy Beshear announced 26 more deaths from covid-19, bringing the state’s toll to 1,835. The dead are listed below by age, sex and county.
In a press release, Beshear again asked Kentuckians to follow preventive measures he has ordered and recommended during the holidays.

“Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays, and usually we get together with about 15 people,” Beshear said. “This year, we just can’t do that. I’m really disappointed, like all of us are, but protecting my parents, my kids, our neighbors and all of our health care workers has to come first. I’m grateful for all Kentuckians who are sacrificing this year to keep each other safe.”

There were at least two hopeful signs. The share of Kentuckians testing positive for the virus in the last seven days declined slightly for the third day, to 8.88 percent, and Kentuckians appeared more likely than people in neighboring states to follow official advice and not observe Thanksgiving with people outside their household, based on polling done for The New York Times Nov. 13-23.
The Times published a detailed, interactive map showing the share of people planning to eat Thanksgiving dinner with people outside their household. The findings are part of a “large number of interviews conducted by the global data and survey firm Dynata” at the paper’s request, it said.
As their hospital beds fill up with covid-19 patients, the heads of U of L Health and Baptist Health gave a stern warning to the Louisville community in an open letter: “It is critically important that we take action now. Please, for the health and safety of yourself, your loved ones and your neighbors, wear a mask. Avoid gatherings — not just with strangers, but with extended family members. Don’t stand or be near people who don’t live with you. Wash your hands often.With Thanksgiving and the holidays coming, please celebrate responsibly in a scaled-back fashion that limits the virus’s spread.”
The executives stressed that after eight months of fighting the virus, health-care workers in the region need their neighbors’ help. “We are prepared to handle a surge of patients, but there is a limit,” they said. “There will be a point when our hospitals will be too full to treat all of you with the virus and those with other medical needs “We are at a crossroads and desperately need your assistance with curbing the spread of the virus.”
Beshear’s release noted that getting one negative test days before a gathering “can’t guarantee that you won’t infect others at that event.”

Last week, Beshear banned in-person schooling and indoor dining, and imposed other new restrictions in an effort to stop the recent surge in cases. The school order brought a lawsuit by the Danville Christian Academy and Attorney General Daniel Cameron, joined by other private schools, and some restaurants defied the inside-service ban and began losing their licenses as a result. U.S. District Judge Greg Van Tatenhove is expected to rule in the case soon.ruled in the school case Wednesday night that Beshear couldn’t stop in-person instruction at religious schools.
Beshear also limited informal group gatherings to two households and no more than eight people, while acknowledging that it would be difficult if not impossible to enforce. Two families filed a lawsuit against Beshear Tuesday, saying the order “criminalized their family dinner.” One family includes seven children.
At his Tuesday briefing, the last before the holidays, Beshear called this claim “ridiculous,” “dumb,” and “a distraction,” and said, “Nobody’s saying a family of 10 can’t continue to live together and eat together,” he said. “What we’re saying is if one family wants to have another family over, it [should only] be two households.”
In other coronavirus news Wednesday:
  • The latest covid-19 fatalities were a 60-year-old woman from Barren County; an 82-year-old Christian County man; a 94-year-old Daviess County woman; a 62-year-old Edmonson County man; an 87-year-old Floyd County man; a 91-year-old Hancock County woman; a 90-year-old Hardin County man; two women, 67 and 89, and three men, 62, 68 and 79, from Jefferson County; an 83-year-old Jessamine County man; a 61-year-old Lewis County woman; a 74-year-old woman and a 91-year-old man from Martin County; a 73-year-old McLean County woman; a 98-year-old woman and a 66-year-old man from Monroe County; an 84-year-old Ohio County man; two men, 79 and 87, from Oldham County; a 56-year-old Spencer County woman; and two women, 77 and 86, and a man, 77, from Warren County.
  • “Two more inmates have died from covid-19 in Kentucky state prisons, raising this years death toll in the system to 15 prisoners and two Department of Corrections employees,” John Cheves reports for the Lexington Herald-Leader. Beshear has said that rampant community spread is responsible for the current surge of cases in Kentucky, noting that with prison employees coming and going in and out of the facilities every day, when case rates are so high, it is hard to contain it. Cheves reports that an analysis of state prison data ranks Kentucky 17th for per-capita inmate deaths during the pandemic.
  • Counties with more than 10 new cases were Jefferson, 732; Fayette, 264; Kenton, 138; Boone, 116; Warren, 114; Hardin, 111; Madison, 100; Campbell, 69; Daviess, 69; Bullitt, 62; Christian, 61; Greenup, 52; Oldham, 48; Hopkins, 42; McCracken, 42; Pike, Scott and Wayne, 41; Magoffin, 40; Laurel 38; Franklin and Shelby, 35; Boyd, Clark and Muhlenberg, 32; Nelson, 31; Graves, Ohio and Pulaski, 29; Floyd, Henderson and Mercer, 28; Jessamine, 27; Carter and Whitley, 25; Knox, 23; Johnson, 22; Adair and Anderson, 20; Marshall, 19; Boyle and Calloway 18; Allen, Caldwell, Pendleton, Perry and Spencer, 17; Fleming, Grayson, Harrison, Rockcastle and Taylor, 16; Crittenden, Leslie and Logan, 14; Grant and Knott, 13; Clay, Garrard, Harlan and Woodford, 12; and Breathitt, Estill, Lee, Lincoln, Marion and Washington, 11.
  • The state has issued guidelines for outdoor dining. The version posted by the Franklin County Health Department says tents qualify as outdoor seating if at least 50% of the perimeter is open and 6 feet of space is kept between customers at different tables; if two sides of the tent are not open, the tent is considered interior space and may not be used for seating until Dec. 14, under Beshear’s order.
  • The AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine announced this week isn’t proven yet, Hilda Bastian reports for Wired magazine: “The price of AstraZeneca’s shares actually dropped on the news, and an analysis from an investment bank concluded, ‘We believe that this product will never be licensed in the U.S.’ Over at Stat NewsAnthony Fauci cautioned that we’ll need to see more data before coming to a conclusion. . . . Monday’s announcement did not present results from a single, large-scale, Phase 3 clinical trial, as was the case for earlier bulletins about the BNT-Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.”
  •  “Government officials said the first 6.4 million doses of a vaccine will be distributed to all states around mid-December, assuming the FDA grants an emergency-use authorization,” McClathy Newspapers report. “The first doses will be given to states based on population size. Earlier plans had called for distribution based on the number of people in high-risk groups, such as health care workers, first responders, people over 65, and those with underlying medical conditions. The general population likely won’t get vaccinated until spring or summer, experts say.”
  • Maggie Menderski of the Louisville Courier Journal tells the story of Demetrius Booker, a 40-year-old La Grange man, who spent 95 days in the hospital battling covid-19.
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