A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Latest White House COVID-19 report shows fewer Kentucky counties in danger zones this week

By Al Cross Kentucky Health News Kentucky got a better report this week from the White House Coronavirus Task Force. It has two more counties are in the task force’s “red zone” — for places with more than 100 new cases per 100,000 people, and a positive rate of at least 10 percent in tests for the virus — but a lot fewer in its “yellow zone,” for those with 10 to 100...

Al Cross: Local, trusted voices are needed in a pandemic and doing the right thing should be exalted

Norman Chaffins and Donnie Keeton probably never expected to see their name in a column about Kentucky politics. But they’re elected officials who have done the right thing when it comes to the coronavirus, and they and their kind should be exalted. Chaffins, a Republican, is the sheriff of Grayson County, in west-central Kentucky. Keeton, a Democrat, is a magistrate in Morgan County, in Eastern...

Al Cross: Does Amy McGrath have any chance against Mitch McConnell?

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell surely smiled as he watched Amy McGrath slip, stumble and nearly fall to state Rep. Charles Booker in the Democratic primary for his seat. The first challenger who could match Mr. Money dollar for dollar had to drain half her campaign fund to fend off an upstart who was the ideal surfer of a historic wave of outrage about police treatment of his fellow African...

Al Cross: Any doubt about the vote count could resonate long past the primary

Voting for the Democratic nomination to face Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is over, but the election is not, because most ballots were mail-in absentees due to the pandemic and are still being counted. That means the campaigns aren’t over, either, and that could affect the general election. Wednesday afternoon, the campaign of state Rep. Charles Booker sought donations “to hire lawyers,...

New coronavirus cases continue to increase across Kentucky, but hospitalizations are on the decline

Kentucky Health News chart compares daily case numbers with rolling average for past seven days. By Al Cross and Melissa Patrick Kentucky Health News Gov. Andy Beshear reported 258 new cases of the coronavirus in Kentucky Friday, the sixth day out of the last seven that the number has risen. Following his recently revised schedule, Beshear did not hold a press conference Friday, but issued a press...

Al Cross: Charles Booker, Mike Broihier harvest votes on a field Amy McGrath planted

When Amy McGrath ran for the U.S. House in 2018, Cameron French was with her. He was a campus organizer at the University of Kentucky, where he is a student. But now, as McGrath seeks the Democratic nomination for senator, he’s organizing for state Rep. Charles Booker. French said he abandoned McGrath on the second day of her Senate campaign, when she told the Courier Journal that she would have...

Al Cross: National shift makes Booker the Senate candidate of the moment, at least for now

It is easy for some to say that the Minneapolis police officer who killed George Floyd was an outlier, not representative of his own department, much less police in general. But he was representative enough – of a streak in police, and in society, that still regards people of color as second-class beings, not worthy of full respect. It is a poisonous streak, one that keeps America from overcoming...

Al Cross: On Memorial Day, we will get to see a story that was almost never told

Fifty-one years ago last month, my Clinton County High School classmate Paul Conner and I got on a bus in Lexington for a 4-H trip to Washington, D.C., our first visit there. We rode up with his parents, Murl and Pauline Conner, whom I knew mainly as mainstays of the local Farm Bureau. I also knew Murl from my work at WANY in Albany, where we would often read a notice that he would be at the courthouse...

Health commissioner worried that too many Kentuckians think COVID-19 doesn’t pose danger

By Al Cross Kentucky Health News Dr. Steven Stack, the state commissioner of public health, said in an interview recorded Friday and broadcast Monday night that he fears Kentuckians aren’t taking the coronavirus seriously enough. “I’m very worried that the public is becoming comfortable that this is not a danger,” and does not realize that only about 5 percent of Kentuckians...

Trendline for new coronavirus cases remains up, but Beshear says two Louisville facilities skew numbers

Kentucky Health News chart shows trendline of new cases since May 3 (where there were 173) is up. By Al Cross Kentucky Health News As Kentucky prepares to allow all retail stores to open Monday, its two-week trend of new coronavirus cases is up, contrary to the federal guidelines that say such reopening shouldn’t begin unless cases have shown a downward trajectory for the previous two weeks. Gov....

Al Cross: As Trump’s virus work drags them down, Republicans seem frantic

Republicans facing an election amid a century-rank catastrophe made worse by their president are throwing anything they can against the political wall to see what sticks. Some of what they’re throwing is pretty slippery – trying to discredit experts, shifting the blame to China, or, well, just making stuff up. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had been a voice of reason, repeatedly volunteering...

Beshear discusses how to deal with ‘very scary virus’ as businesses reopen; says there are enough tests

By Melissa Patrick and Al Cross Kentucky Health News As a shortlist of Kentucky businesses plan to reopen next Monday, Gov. Andy Beshear spoke at length Monday about how he would proceed with a slow, gradual restart, noting that some states were seeing a spike in coronavirus cases and COVID-19 deaths as they relaxed restrictions. Such increases have been projected by the Trump administration, according...

Al Cross: McConnell risks riling public employees with pension, bankruptcy remarks

Ever since he became leader of Republicans in the U.S. Senate, Mitch McConnell has used that post as his most consistent argument to Kentucky voters that they should re-elect him, because it lets the state “punch above our weight” to get federal favors. It’s been an effective pitch in his two re-election campaigns since, and it has the added advantage of being true: Among the states, Kentucky...

As Kentucky prepares for businesses to reopen, analysis shows state’s shutdown saved lives

By Melissa Patrick and Al Cross Kentucky Health News Gov. Andy Beshear has announced details of the first broad phase of his plan to re-open Kentucky’s economy in May, while saying child care, restaurants, and businesses that require increased human contact are not yet on the list of what will be allowed to open. “I hope everybody also sees that these are cautious steps that are going...

Grayson County story of a rumor is cautionary tale for small towns in uncertain times of COVID-19

By Al Cross Kentucky Health News When a rumor becomes a news story, it often has a larger story to tell. Such is the case in Grayson County, population 27,000, where local officials held a news conference to quash rumors on social media that an identified man who had tested positive for the coronavirus was not isolating himself at home, when in fact he was as soon as he got the test result. The posts...

Latest models for Kentucky COVID-19 impact vary; estimates how counties will deal with disease

By Al Cross Kentucky Health News Projections of COVID-19’s impact on Kentucky continue to vary, but one model has begun to estimate how individual counties will deal with the disease. Those projections rely on data that is even more scant than the earlier models, but they are being updated frequently and are intended to be a guide to local and state officials in planning for the expected surge...

Kentucky forms task force to deal with coronavirus in nursing homes, other long-term care facilities

By Al Cross Kentucky Health News State officials have formed a task force to advise them about how to prevent the coronavirus from devastating the state’s nursing homes and other long-term care facilities, which have already suffered 18 deaths from it. “This is our challenge,” Gov. Andy Beshear said at his daily briefing. “This is where the coronavirus is devastating every state...

Preliminary projections of covid-19’s impact on Kentucky offer differing takes on state’s performance

By Al Cross Kentucky Health News How many Kentuckians will be infected with the coronavirus? How many will develop its disease, covid-19? How many will die from the disease? And how does Kentucky compare to adjoining states? The answers to those questions are still unclear, mainly because testing for the virus is still very limited, handicapping scientists who track diseases. A group of epidemiologists...

Al Cross: McConnell again makes a boulder out of a pebble, then makes political hay of crisis

It’s a time for us to be apart literally, and a time to be together figuratively. But politics long ago moved mainly to the figurative battlefield, and we shouldn’t expect its divisiveness to take a holiday even in a deadly pandemic. And now the crisis itself is an issue. Two weeks ago, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s campaign manager was calling on his likely Democratic opponent, Amy...

Estimates of COVID-19’s effects on health-care system, and lives, show Ky. compares favorably

By Al Cross Kentucky Health News Kentucky compares favorably to its major bordering states in the first public estimates of the impact of the coronavirus on the U.S. health-care system and the number of deaths expected from the COVID-19 disease caused by the virus. However, some estimates for Kentucky have wider possible ranges than for the other states, illustrating the shortage of data that public-health...