As state heads into a long holiday weekend, new-case average keeps ticking up but Beshear emphasizes recent successes

By Al Cross
Kentucky Health News

Kentucky’s averages of recent coronavirus cases and deaths continued to increase slightly Wednesday, but the percentage of Kentuckians testing positive for the virus continued to decline, and Gov. Andy Beshear remained upbeat as he issued his last pandemic report until after Christmas.

“This war is far from over, but we’ve won another battle, beating back exponential growth of this virus in our state before Christmas,” Beshear said in a press release.

“I hope you all enjoy a wonderful holiday, even if it looks a little different this year. Please be careful so we can hold on to the progress we’ve made. What I love about this holiday most is that it’s not about the gifts; it’s about people taking care of each other and appreciating their loved ones and community more than ever. Let’s all live up to the true spirit of Christmas this year, and every year in the future after we get through this together.”

The state reported 2,953 new virus cases Wednesday, raising the state’s seven-day rolling average of daily new cases to 2,811. That was the third daily increase in a row; it was 2,761 on Dec. 20.

Beshear reported 26 more deaths from Covid-19, raising the state’s toll to 2,466 and pushing the seven- and 14-day averages of deaths to 29.1 and 24.9, respectively.

Deaths are a lagging indicator. A leading indicator, the percentage of of Kentuckians testing positive for the virus in the last seven days, declined again, to 8.35%. That is the lowest rate since Nov. 12.

“Through the leadership of the governor, public-health officials, and Kentuckians adapting safe behaviors, virus level continue to decrease,” said the latest White House Coronavirus Task Force report on Kentucky, for Dec. 12-18.

The report said “Hospitals are reporting critical staffing shortages, but the state is managing.”

Wednesday’s case numbers from Kentucky hospitals were generally stable. They reported 1,644 Covid-19 cases, 413 of them in intensive care and 222 of those on ventilators.

Coleman shows her shot site.

More state officials were vaccinated Wednesday: Lt. Gov. Jacqueline Coleman, Chief Judge Denise G. Clayton of the Kentucky Court of Appeals, acting State Police Commissioner Phillip Burnett Jr., Emergency Management Director Michael Dossett. Beshear Chief of Staff La Tasha Buckner, Senior Adviser Rocky Adkins and Virginia Moore, executive director of the Commission on the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, the lead sign-language interpreter at Beshear’s briefings.

Beshear and other top-ranking officials were vaccinated Tuesday. He
said Health Commissioner Steven Stack urged top officials to be vaccinated for the continuity of state government and to demonstrate to Kentuckians that the vaccine is safe and effective. The latter reason was cited by the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in requesting governors to be publicly vaccinated as soon as possible.

The 26 fatalities announced Wednesday were a 95-year-old woman and a 77-year-old man from Adair County; a Allen County man, 82; a woman, 90, and a man, 69, from Bath County; a Carter County man, 85; a Casey County man, 85; a Clinton County woman, 87; a Daviess County woman, 89; two Fayette County women, 85 and 89; a Greenup County man, 69; two Harlan County men, 73 and 89; a Hopkins County woman, 85; a woman, 82, and two men, 66 and 90, from Jefferson County; a Letcher County man, 69; two Lincoln County women, 69 and 79; a Madison County man, 83; a Mason County woman, 90; and from Pulaski County, a man, 76, and two women, 62 and 63.

In other coronavirus news:

  • Counties with more than 10 new cases were: Jefferson, 415; Fayette, Kenton, 124; Daviess, 103; Boyle, 98; Warren, 80; Boone, 77; Pike, 77; Laurel, 73; Hardin, 72; Christian, 68; Whitley, 60; Pulaski, 54; Wayne, 53; Lincoln, 50; McCracken, 47; Graves, 46; Madison, 45; Hopkins, 43; Oldham, 41; Harlan, 40; Bullitt, 38; Shelby, 36; Clay, 34; Marshall, 33; Henderson, 31; Anderson, 30; Marion, 28; Scott, 28; Campbell, 26; Taylor, 26; Barren, 24; Johnson, 24; Greenup, 23; Calloway, 22; Clinton, 21; Bath, Clark, Floyd, Franklin and Mercer, 20; Fleming, 19; Allen and McCreary, 18; Carter, Grayson, Jessamine and Todd, 17; Bell, Knox and Nelson, 16; Bourbon and Grant, 15; Rowan, 14; Breathitt, McLean, Rockcastle and Woodford, 13; Lawrence, 12; and Lewis, Martin and Union, 11.
  • State Auditor Mike Harmon says the state doesn’t know how much money it owes people for backlogged unemployment benefits, the Lexington Herald-Leader reports.
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