A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

COVID-19 update: Beshear reports 299 new cases, four deaths; challenges to his restrictions, more

Gov. Andy Beshear reported that Kentucky has 299 new COVID-19 cases and four deaths as of Friday afternoon. This brings the state’s totals to 16,376 cases and 585 deaths.

“This Fourth of July weekend, it’s important to keep in mind how committed Kentuckians have been to combatting COVID-19, which spreads easily and quickly between people. Kentuckians’ selflessness was demonstrated over Passover/Easter weekend and again over Memorial Day weekend,” said Beshear. “This weekend, we have another opportunity to show care and consideration for our fellow Kentuckians, especially those at higher risk for severe illness and even death. Let’s be the best Kentuckians that we are capable of being. Let’s all commit to doing our part to ensure a safe and healthy Independence Day weekend for all.”

The Governor said Kentucky and America are at war with the coronavirus.

“This week, the United States posted a single-day high of over 50,000 new positive cases,” Beshear said. “States across the country are seeing dangerous surges, including Arizona – a state one and a half times larger than us – which saw 88 people die on Tuesday alone. And today, we learned 300 children in Texas daycares have contracted the virus. Everyone must take this virus seriously and follow safety precautions in order for us to continue reopening.”

The Governor said his next press briefing will be held on July 9, at 4 p.m. EDT.

“The loss of these Kentuckians is sorely felt,” Gov. Beshear said, adding that the red, white and blue decorations ordinarily seen this time of year should be joined by green lights as homes and businesses are lit to honor the memory of Kentuckians who’ve been lost to COVID-19.

Dr. Steven Stack, commissioner of the Department for Public Health, reiterated Gov. Beshear’s reminders from earlier this week to safely enjoy the 4th of July holiday. “In particular, if you’re going to a park, river, lake or attending a gathering, maintain a safe social distance between you and others outside of your household.

“Remember to practice good hand hygiene, screen yourself for signs of illness and wear a face-covering whenever you are near others. If you attend a gathering, bring your own food, drinks and utensils. Use disinfecting wipes before and after utilizing high touch surfaces, such as tables, handles, and even gasoline pumps. The coronavirus is still out there and each of us has a role in preventing further spread of the virus. We can all have a memorable and safe holiday weekend if we keep these important guidelines in mind.”

The Kentucky Health News offered this summary of recent COVID-19 news:

▪ Boone Circuit Judge Rick Brueggemann allowed the Florence Speedway dirt track in Walton to have spectators, at half capacity. He ruled in a suit challenging Beshear’s restrictions on businesses. “The judge said he also will examine the state’s limits placed on class sizes for another plaintiff, day-care center Little Links to Learning in Fort Mitchell,” the Herald-Leader reports.

▪ Attorney General Daniel Cameron, originally named as a defendant in the case, got the judge to make him a plaintiff and attacked Beshear’s broad orders, saying the governor should “tailor his orders to specific hot spots or concerns.” He said after the hearing, “With nearly half of Kentucky’s workforce unemployed and the day-to-day lives of Kentuckians micromanaged by the governor’s executive orders, it is incumbent upon us to challenge over-broad and unconstitutional orders and seek relief for our fellow citizens.” Beshear spokeswoman Crystal Staley said, “The attorney general’s position is reckless and threatens the lives of thousands of Kentuckians at a time when the coronavirus is surging in states to our south.” Late Friday, Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles joined Cameron in the lawsuit

▪ After Sen. Mitch McConnell and other Republican leaders spoke up, during a major surge in virus cases, President Trump is supporting the use of face masks. “I’m all for masks. I think masks are good,” the president said Wednesday on Fox Business.

▪ Eastern Kentucky University will resume classes Aug. 17, with no fall break and in-person classes ending at Thanksgiving, the Herald-Leader reports. Finals will be given online in the week after the holiday, according to the university’s reopening plan. The first day of classes at the University of Kentucky is also Aug. 17.
▪ U.S. pediatricians have issued a strong statement in favor of schools reopening in the fall if they can do it safely, NPR reports. The American Academy of Pediatrics guidance stresses that policymakers need to recognize that COVID-19 policies “are intended to mitigate, not eliminate, risk” and goes over the general principles that decision-makers need to consider as they make plans for the upcoming school year.
▪ Kevin Wheatley of WDRB reports on how the prospect of school in the fall makes immuno-compromised teachers anxious. “Most of the public is not aware that there really are students, faculty and staff who are sick,” Louisville teacher Terrilyn Fleming told Wheatley. “I understand people are not used to wearing masks, but it really is life and death for people like me have immunodeficiencies.”

▪ Scientific American magazine reports that “superspreading” events have driven COVID-19, reporting that “research on actual cases, as well as models of the pandemic, indicate that between 10 and 20 percent of infected people are responsible for 80 percent of the coronavirus’s spread.” Scientists have identified factors that catalyze such superspreader events, include large crowd sizes, close contact between people and confined spaces with poor ventilation, Scientific American reports.

▪ Using data from The New York Times, Becker’s Hospital Review offers an easy-to-read list of states where new COVID-19 cases are rising, falling and staying the same as of July 2.
▪ WFPL offers a COVID-19 tracker that includes county-level data.

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