A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Beshear reports 316 new COVID-19 cases, 1 death, cites poor air quality; KHN provides roundup

Gov. Andy Beshear on Saturday updated Kentuckians on the Commonwealth’s ongoing efforts to fight the novel coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19).

As of Saturday afternoon, Beshear said there were at least 15,167 coronavirus cases in Kentucky, 316 of which were newly reported, and one death, a 78-year-old woman from Fayette County. The death brings the state’s total to 554 lost lives.

“This virus is not going away yet,” said Beshear. “We see numbers spiking in states all across the country. We need to be vigilant so that doesn’t happen here in Kentucky.

“We are grieving with this woman’s family. This is another life gone too soon, after we’ve lost far too many already. We must continue to take the steps to protect each other.”

As of Saturday, there have been at least 391,765 coronavirus tests performed in Kentucky. At least 3,730 Kentuckians have recovered from the virus.

“Since we first started fighting this virus nearly four months ago, Kentuckians have risen to the challenge,” Beshear said. “We still have a long way to go, but our progress shows the enormous strength and resilience of our people.”

He also reminded everyone that Kentucky Department for Public Health Commissioner Dr. Steven Stack warned Kentuckians that air quality in the state may be poor into next week. An enormous cloud of dry and dusty air that originated over the Sahara Desert will move across the southern United States over the next three to seven days.

In other COVID-19 news, Kentucky Health News cites:

▪ Republican senators, fearing loss of their majority in the Nov. 3 election, urged President Trump’s administration to step up its response to the coronavirus “and pushed Trump to start wearing a mask, at least sometimes,” Politico reports. “Trump is still downplaying the virus’ impact, questioning the value of testing and ridiculing the idea of wearing a mask despite holding large-scale campaign rallies. . . . but mask-wearing has become virtually ubiquitous among GOP senators,” led by Kentucky’s Mitch McConnell.

▪ “This is not as complicated as a ventilator, and this is a way to indicate that you want to protect others,” McConnell said at Morehead’s hospital Friday, the Courier Journal reports. “I see various events on television in which people are clearly not wearing masks, not taking it seriously and not doing others a favor,” he continued. “We need to get past that in order to protect not only ourselves but our friends and colleagues and others until we get to a vaccine.”

▪ “Trump and Republican governors are pointing to fewer coronavirus deaths to suggest that the worst of the coronavirus pandemic has passed — and to blunt criticism that a surge of new infections in more than half the states is proof the country reopened too soon,” Politico reports in another story. “But that’s a dangerous gamble. Death rates tell nothing about the current spread of the virus and only offer a snapshot of where the country was roughly three weeks ago.”

▪ As the number of coronavirus cases continues to spread among Lexington’s Hispanic community at an alarming rate, Alex Acquisto reports for the Lexington Herald-Leader on how that affects contact tracing. Health department officials told her that right now, there are nearly 300 people the department must call each day. Of those, close to 80 are Hispanic and 50 prefer to speak in Spanish. Fayette County led the state in new cases Thursday, and officials said the Hispanic community and Keeneland Race Course, where many Hispanics work, were the main sources.

▪ Planning to fly soon? WLEX-TV reports on which airlines are booking at full capacity, and which ones aren’t. Forbes reports on four essential websites to help you plan a safer road trip.

▪ The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has expanded its list of people at risk of severe COVID-19 illness. These additions include asthma, high blood pressure, neurologic conditions such as dementia, cerebrovascular disease such as stroke, and pregnancy. They are in addition to kidney disease, obesity, heart conditions, COPD, sickle-cell disease, diabetes and those who are immuno-compromised. The CDC estimates that 60 percent of adults in the U.S. suffer from at least one of these conditions.

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