A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Kentucky Health News: A round-up of COVID-19 news — cases, trends, the surge, masks, stimulus bill and more

From Kentucky Health News, a round-up of COVID-19 news:

• Counties with more than five new cases on Friday were Jefferson, 206; Fayette, 76; Warren, 41; Kenton, 27; Boone, 26; Bell, 23; Harlan, 17; Bullitt, 16; Barren, Hardin McCracken and Scott, 15 each; Laurel, 14;  Campbell, Henderson and Shelby, 12 each; Jessamine, 11; Knox, 10 1.25 Pike, 9; Ohio and Oldham, 8; Perry Pulaski and Whitley, 7 each; and Adair and Daviess, 6 each.

• The Lexington-Fayette County Health Department, which follows its own reporting schedule, reported 100 new cases, “marking the first triple-digit spike in cases the city has seen during the coronavirus pandemic,” Jeremy Chisenhall reports for the Lexington Herald-Leader. Eleven of the cases were in children and the health department said in a Facebook post that the steady increase in cases show “no signs of slowing.” 

• In long-term-care facilities, four more residents and 18 employees tested positive for the virus, and six more deaths were recorded, bringing the respective totals to 2,300, 1,267 and 458 (including four employees, one who died this week).

• The Fayette County school board voted unanimously to begin the school year remotely; the start date has not yet been announced, reports the Herald-Leader. Jefferson County schools will also begin remotely, the Courier-Journal reports.

• The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s expanded guidance for reopening schools, rewritten to please President Trump, now “heavily emphasize sending students back to school this fall, despite what the CDC described as “mixed evidence about whether returning to school results in increased transmission or outbreaks” of COVID-19, CBS News reports. The guidance “reads more like a political document than public-health guidelines,” anchor Norah O’Donnell said on the “CBS Evening News.”

New guidance from the CDC says most people who test positive for the virus can stop isolating themselves and take other preventive measures 10 days after their symptoms begin, and if they have been fever-free for at least 24 hours without the use of medications. The guidance notes that a limited number of people with severe illness may have to isolate and take precautions for up to 20 days after symptom onset. Those who never show symptoms need to quarantine for 10 days after testing positive. The CDC says these recommendations “are based on the best information available in mid-July 2020 and reflect the realities of an evolving pandemic.” The guidance also offers key findings that support this change in guidance.
• A new CDC study found that recovery from COVID-19 can take a long time, even in young adults with no chronic conditions. The study found that 35% of those who had tested positive had not returned to their usual state of health two-three weeks after testing and that one in five previously healthy 18- to 34-year-olds were not back to usual health 14-21 days after testing positive.
• Beshear often warns that if the number of cases of coronavirus continues to surge, it could easily overtake the state’s hospital capacity. McClatchy tells the story of a town in Texas where this has happened, and they are now having to decide who will be sent home to die.

• Don’t forget to wear your mask when you go through drive-thru banking and food services. “Wear a cloth face covering when doing any in-person exchanges and unable to stay at least 6 feet apart from other people,” the CDC says on its “running errands” guidance.
• Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar on Thursday signed a continuation of the COVID-19 public health emergency that was set to expire July 25, extending temporary payment and enforcement flexibility for a whole range of stakeholders, Inside Health Policy reports
• If anyone is in the driver’s seat for the next coronavirus stimulus bill, it’s Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, the editor of a leading liberal magazine told The Hill. David Dayen, executive editor of The American Prospect, said Democrats appear to be allowing the leader to do what he did with the last relief bill: “McConnell writes the bill in his office and then Democrats get a chance to tweak it.”

• One sign of the national surge: More new infections were reported Friday that at any time since the pandemic started, CBS reported. The number: 77,255.

• Current research confirms that direct person-to-person transmission is the main way the virus spreads, so “That’s why social distancing and using protective equipment including face masks is really critical for reducing the spread,” says UK virologist Rebecca Dutch. She says one big question is the coming flu season; getting one virus could make you more vulnerable to the other, “but we also know that in some cases, having one virus can essentially keep the other from infecting. . . . I would strongly suggest going into this flu season that everyone get a flu shot.”

• “Republican infighting has led to an embarrassing setback on new coronavirus aid,” Politico reports.

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