A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

COVID Update: Gov. Beshear reports 638 cases, 6 deaths; children hard hit; citations readied and more

Gov. Andy Beshear reported 638 new COVID cases and six deaths as of Saturday afternoon, bringing the state’s totals to 38,930 cases and 810 deaths. Seventeen of the new cases were children age 5 and under.

There were 17 cases in Kenton County, 7 in Boone County and 7 in Campbell County.

“Saturday’s COVID report unfortunately suggests this is going to be the highest week of total cases that we’ve ever had, though our positivity rate is going down a little bit,” said Gov. Beshear. “Folks, this thing is real. We are at war with it and we are going to have to be the strong, resilient and also patient Kentuckians that we are to make sure that we prevent loss of life, that we promote health and that we protect our children, that we should never, ever experiment with.”

The Governor highlighted how more young Kentuckians are testing positive, especially in the hot spots, as the new school year approaches. “When you look at how hard children are being hit now, 322 people under the age of 18 have tested positive since the beginning of this in Warren County alone.”

The deaths reported Saturday included two men from Jefferson County, ages 71 and 85; a 57-year-old woman from Jefferson County; a 74-year-old man from Graves County; a 72-year-old man from Nicholas County, and an 89-year-old man from McCracken County.

Dr. Steven Stack, commissioner of the Department for Public Health, said, “We all have crucial roles to play in the battle against the novel coronavirus. Now, more than ever, we have to renew our commitment to work together to protect ourselves, our friends, our families, and our communities. This week outpaced the number of new cases last week and, if we become complacent, our hard-fought containment of the coronavirus could slip from our grasp.”

We have to take this coronavirus seriously, Dr. Stack said. “Every person who avoids crowds, wears a face covering in public, maintains a social distance of at least six feet, and frequently washes their hands makes essential and invaluable contributions to our ability to fight this pandemic. If we all do these things consistently, we can suppress COVID-19 enough to more safely open schools and engage in many activities so important to our lives.”

Illustration from the CDC

As of Saturday, at least 754,985 tests had been administered. The COVID-19 testing positive rate, based on a seven-day rolling average, taking into account total positive tests reported by laboratories divided by total tests reported by labs, stood at 5.45%. The number of Kentuckians who have recovered stood at 9,091.

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.

Kentucky Health News reported this week:

• The Kentucky Education Association says the state’s positivity rating should be below 4% for three weeks statewide and in a school’s county before it resumes in-person instruction. Kentucky’s positivity rate is 5.68%.

• The Governor called out Barren County and Hardin County for starting in-person instructions before his recommended Sept. 28 date.

• Citations ready: The state Department for Public Health sent county and district health departments citations to issue businesses that don’t enforce Beshear’s July 10 order that Kentuckians wear masks in indoor public spaces and outdoors when they can’t stay six feet apart.

“The first offense is just a warning, but after that businesses will be ordered to pay fines of $50 for a second offense, $75 for a third offense, and $100 for fourth and subsequent offenses,” Phil Pendleton of WKYT-TV reports.

Beshear did not mention the topic at his news conference and wasn’t asked about it. He has not responded to written questions from Kentucky Health News about what he was doing to improve enforcement of his order.

▪ Beshear noted on Friday the relatively high number of new cases in Green, a county of 11,000 people. With that population, it takes only 11 cases in a week to get into the “red zone” of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, and it had more than that in one day.
▪ Hospitalizations in Kentucky for COVID-19 declined slightly, to 658, with 140 of those in intensive care and 98 of the ICU patients on ventilators. Beshear recently began giving the ventilator count, which is not part of the state’s daily report.

▪ Beshear reported that seven more child-care facilities had at least one coronavirus case among staff or children, raising the total to 131. Most cases, 102, are among staffers; 87 are among children.
▪ On Monday, Beshear reported 123 child-care facilities have disclosed coronavirus infections for 96 staff and 82 children. John Cheves of the Herald-Leader lists them. The state provides a frequently asked question page for childcare centers on kycovid19.ky.gov.

▪ Buddy Forbes reports for Hazard’s WYMT-TV a story in Johnson County about Darrell McCoy who said he thought COVID-19 was a hoax and all about politics, and had been going about his business without a mask, shaking hands and holding in-person meetings. That changed after he was diagnosed with the virus, and his new message is to encourage everyone to wear a mask. “I was the one that, you know, was like 90 percent of the people in the mountains here. I refused to wear a mask; I wasn’t gonna change my way of life. I thought that it was all a hoax,” he said. “But I’m telling you, guys. This thing is real. And if you think that it can’t touch your family, just wait.”
▪ In new guidance released Thursday, the American Academy of Pediatrics advised that face coverings can be worn safely by children over the age of 2, including the vast majority of children with underlying health conditions, with rare exceptions. “Just like children understand that they must wear bicycle helmets and buckle into their car seats, they will come to learn to wear masks routinely when necessary,” AAP President Dr. Sally Goza said in a news release. She added, “As parents prepare to send their children to school and into childcare settings, cloth face coverings should be part of their new normal.” New guidance from the White House for schools only encourages the use of masks when social distancing is not possible.
Kycovid19.ky.gov also provides a list of 243 testing locations across the state that can be located by county.

▪ One way to make your home safer from the coronavirus is to crack a window and to be even more effective, put a box fan in that window, Mitchell Willetts reports for McClatchy. “The safest indoor space is one that constantly has lots of outside air replacing the stale air inside,” Shelly Miller, mechanical engineering professor at the University of Colorado, wrote in an essay for The Conversation. “Simply put, the more fresh, outside air inside a building, the better. Bringing in this air dilutes any contaminant in a building, whether a virus or a something else, and reduces the exposure of anyone inside.”

▪ “Across the United States, at least 200,000 more people have died than usual since March, according to a New York Times analysis of estimates from the CDC. This is about 60,000 higher than the number of deaths that have been directly linked to the coronavirus,” Denise Lu reports. During the pandemic, Lu reports, Kentucky’s excess deaths peaked during the week of July 5. 

▪ During late June, a CDC report found that 40.9% of U.S. adults reported struggling with mental health or substance use associated with COVID-19.

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