A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Beshear reports 973 new COVID-19 cases, 5 deaths; state on track for highest week of cases; roundup

Gov. Andy Beshear on Saturday reported 973 new COVID-19 cases and five deaths, bringing the state’s totals to 66,036 cases and 1,154 deaths. Of the newly reported cases, 132 were from children age 18 and younger. The youngest was just 2 months old.

Fayette County reported 108 cases.

“Folks, right now we are on pace to have the single-highest week in terms of positive cases that we’ve ever had,” said Beshear. “We simply have to do better. Please wear a mask. Sadly, sometimes I’m seeing less of these out there than more. This will save lives.”

The Governor added, “We’ve already lost more than 200,000 Americans. Do your part as Team Kentucky, do your patriotic duty – mask up, Kentucky. It may save the life of someone you know.”

The deaths reported Saturday include a 67-year-old man from Scott County; an 80-year-old woman from Union County; an 86-year-old woman from Christian County; and two Boyd Countians, including an 88-year-old man and a 101-year-old woman.

As of Saturday, at least 1,354,927 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 4.42 percent. The number of Kentuckians who are known to have recovered was at least 11,750.

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 round-up

Most schools are expected to be open Monday, the earliest date Beshear said in-person instruction should begin, but the virus continues to be an obstacle to face-to-face classes in the state’s largest metropolitan areas.
Under Supt. Marty Pollio’s latest plan, Jefferson County Public Schools wouldn’t begin phasing in face-to-face classes until Oct. 22, and maybe not even then, if Louisville Metro’s infection rate doesn’t decline substantially.

The plan, which the school board will discusss Tuesday, would begin elementary classes Oct. 22, sixth and ninth grades Oct. 29, and the rest Nov. 5 — if the county’s infection rate drops below 10 cases per 100,000 people. It is now 16.4 percent.

“Pollio said a board vote establishing firm return dates would take place at a later time and be based on improved public health data,” the Courier Journal reports. “Friday marked the 22nd day of remote learning for JCPS students. But dozens of other Kentucky school districts have gone against Beshear’s wishes and already brought children back into classrooms.”

The Fayette County Board of Education took no action Friday at a meeting called to discuss returning to school after the county moved into the worst level, red, of the state’s color-coded system intended to guide decisions of school districts, Valarie Honeycutt Spears reports for the Lexington Herald-Leader.

Fayette County dropped barely into the orange level Friday, with 24.8 cases per 100,000. The red threshold, 25, comes with guidance to stop in-person schooling and athletic events. School officials had hoped to resume face-to-face classed Oct. 5, but Supt. Manny Caulk “said Friday that under the ‘worst case scenario,’ the school district may be looking at continuing remote learning until a COVID-19 vaccine becomes available,” the Herald-Leader reports.

One challenge in Lexington is that 26 percent of its cases are in college students, most of them at the University of Kentucky. Lance Poston, a UK official helping run the university’s response to the pandemic, told the school that only 5.5 percent of total exposures in UK’s tracking system are among people Fayette County residents not affiliated with UK – “meaning the university is not contributing in any substantive way to what would be characterized as community spread,” the newspaper reports.

Off-campus parties involving UK students could be contributing to the increase in cases, Rick Childress reports for the Herald-Leader. UK received 10 reports last weekend about off-campus parties in nearby neighborhoods, and over Derby weekend, Lexington police said they got nearly 30 calls for noise complaints potentially linked to student parties, Childress reports.

KHN briefs:
▪ The daily report of Friday showed 553 people are hospitalized in Kentucky for COVID-19 and 130 are in intensive care.
▪ The long-term care report showed 67 more residents and 54 more staff have tested positive for the virus, with 571 active resident cases and 446 active staff cases. The report shows 648 resident deaths and five staff deaths associated with these facilities.

▪ The college and university report shows six more students and one more employee have tested positive for the virus, with 1,403 active student cases and 46 active employee cases.
▪ The K-12 schools report shows 114 more students and 18 more employees have tested positive for the virus, with 685 active student cases and 306 active employee cases.

▪ About 20,000 more people will die from the coronavirus by mid-October, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention predicts.

A recent CDC report said adults aged 20-29 accounted for more than 20 percent of total COVID-19 cases between June and August, outpacing all other age groups in the U.S. The study, published in the agency’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report on Wednesday, also suggests 20-somethings are a major driver of community spread of the virus. The Herald-Leader reviews the study. In Kentucky, 12,825 of the state’s 65,066 cases are in those between the ages of 20-29, the highest total number of cases of all of the age groups.
Medpage Today’s Kristina Fiore explores the issue of “reshoring” production of personal protective equipment from other nations to the U.S., citing N95 masks as an example of American dependence on foreign suppliers: “Some companies have indeed boosted domestic PPE production capacity, but to make the U.S. self-sufficient in meeting its PPE needs for the next pandemic — or even to continue to meet the needs of the current one — it would take a sea change, industry representatives and analysts told MedPage Today.”

The Kaiser Family Foundation takes a deep dive into the effects of children’s health and well-being during the pandemic, including health risks from school openings and closures, social-distancing policies, loss of family income, and disruptions in health and social services, and what needs to happen in the future.

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