A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Beshear reports 674 new COVID-19 cases, second-highest daily number, 3 deaths; surge continues

Gov. Andy Beshear reported 674 new COVID cases on Tuesday, 23 of them from children 5 and under, and three new deaths. These cases raised Kentucky’s totals to 24,060 cases and 674 deaths.

As of Tuesday there have been at least 549,208 tests performed in Kentucky with a positivity rate of 4.3 percent.

The new cases represent the second-highest number of cases in a single day.

“Here in Kentucky, our surge continues as well. Today we are reporting our second-highest daily total of 674 new cases. That’s not good news,” the Governor said. “We have got to be committed to doing better, and I do see a lot of that out there. We’ve got to make sure we are not one of these other states where their cases are exploding. We still have time to act. But we have got to know that we are on that trajectory, we are on that path, without everybody doing the right thing.”

Beshear stressed the need for everyone to adhere to the mandates and advisories – all based on the guidance and science provided by the White House and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

He noted that on Monday he issued a new travel advisory that recommends a 14-day self-quarantine for Kentuckians who travel to nine states – Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Mississippi, Nevada, South Carolina and Texas – and Puerto Rico, which are reporting a positive coronavirus testing rate equal to or greater than 15 percent. In addition, the Cabinet for Health and Family Services issued a new order pulling back the guidance on gatherings to allow only for meet-ups of 10 or fewer people.

“This is the time for statewide action, coming together to get this done,” Beshear said.

He said Kentucky’s facial covering requirement, in particular, would effectively slow the increase in coronavirus cases, but only if people wear masks.

“It will work. It will absolutely work, and we can do almost everything we want to do,” Beshear said. “From saving lives to keeping the economy open, if we can do that and get this thing under control, it will make what we can do in schools so much easier. But we need your buy-in to do it.”

Analyzing the numbers, Dr. Steven Stack, commissioner of the Kentucky Department for Public Health, said the state’s recent rise in cases is a stark reminder to be more disciplined about wearing masks, maintaining social distance and washing and sanitizing our hands.

“These numbers today are not a surprise,” Stack said. “They, unfortunately, validate where we are on this journey. Having nearly 700 new positives puts us solidly at the base of that escalation of the curve. It’s consistent with what we’ve seen in the last week where our numbers clearly broke out of a multimonth stable period.”

Healthy at School update

Lt. Gov. Jacqueline Coleman provided a Healthy at School update on the state’s efforts to help districts make healthy and safe decisions on reopening schools.

“At the heart of every reopening plan should be the health and safety of every child and every adult in the building, as well as every family they go home to at night,” said Coleman, an educator who also serves as secretary of the Kentucky Education and Workforce Development Cabinet. “That should be first and foremost.”

Coleman highlighted the state’s Healthy at School guidelines, which promote best practices including social distancing, cloth face coverings, contact tracing, sanitation and health screenings.

She also touted expanded flexibility the state is extending to school district officials so they can make decisions about what is best for their students, teachers and school staffers. Among the new provisions being allowed for the coming school year are unlimited non-traditional instruction (NTI) days, removing “daily average attendance” requirements for funding, an expanded care program and unlimited COVID-19-related emergency days for teachers and staff in quarantine.

Coleman said she will be taking part Thursday in a Kentucky Department of Education virtual town hall with educators and staffers to talk about issues related to reopening schools.

In addition, Coleman said she sent a letter to U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and Kentucky’s congressional leadership explaining the health and safety challenges facing schools across the commonwealth and appealing for additional funding for Kentucky schools through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

“All of our schools and college campuses have to keep students safe and they have to keep them learning,” Coleman said. “Today I urge Congress and our national leaders to meet this moment so that we can meet the needs of our communities in this unprecedented time.”

“There is only one way to address this virus, and that’s with statewide policies. Because when you can have 100 cases (in one county) over the course of a week, surely to God we all want to prevent that, and not to say, ‘There’s not a problem here,’ until it’s out of control,” he said. “That would be taking approaches like we’re seeing in other states where the numbers have to be in the thousands before we act.”

The deaths reported Tuesday include a 63-year-old man from Calloway County, a 91-year-old woman from Casey County and a 95-year-old man from Shelby County.

For additional information, including up-to-date lists of positive cases and deaths, as well as breakdowns of coronavirus infections by county, race and ethnicity, click here.

From Governor’s Office

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