A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

As you spend more time outdoors with summer in full swing, remember the ticks; they’re a big problem

By Melissa Patrick Kentucky Health News As outdoor venues in Kentucky have opened up after months of being closed due to the coronavirus, more Kentuckians than ever are heading outdoors. And picking up ticks. Experts caution that it’s important to take precautions through September, when ticks are still active, and to learn how to remove them properly to decrease the risk of tick-borne disease. Jonathan...

As masks are mandated in Kentucky, Louisville doctor explains why wearing protection is important

By Melissa Patrick Kentucky Health News In an effort to get ahead of the rising number of cases of coronavirus in Kentucky, Gov. Andy Beshear issued a statewide mask requirement last week that will be in place for at least 30 days. “It’s no longer voluntary, it’s mandatory,” Beshear said. “I’d hoped that we’d all be willing to do the right thing, but I think...

Pandemic, job losses and easy eligibility push Medicaid enrollment in Kentucky to a record high

More Kentuckians than ever are on Medicaid, due to job losses caused by the pandemic and the resulting relaxation of eligibility rules for the program, John Cheves reports for the Lexington Herald-Leader. “After slowly falling for two years, the number of Kentuckians enrolled in Medicaid shot up by 10 percent to 1.45 million as tens of thousands of people lost their jobs — and typically, their...

COVID-19 update: Beshear reports 299 new cases, four deaths; challenges to his restrictions, more

Gov. Andy Beshear reported that Kentucky has 299 new COVID-19 cases and four deaths as of Friday afternoon. This brings the state’s totals to 16,376 cases and 585 deaths. “This Fourth of July weekend, it’s important to keep in mind how committed Kentuckians have been to combatting COVID-19, which spreads easily and quickly between people. Kentuckians’ selflessness was demonstrated over...

Kentuckians give varied reasons regarding their decision whether or not to wear face masks

By Melissa Patrick Kentucky Health News Research clearly shows that wearing a face mask when out in public can effectively curb the transmission of the novel coronavirus, for which there is no vaccine, but Americans and Kentuckians are divided on whether it’s necessary. “Recently, I started not to wear it because I feel like I’m young and healthy, so I feel like I probably wouldn’t...

In discussion of health equity for people of color, call to action includes addressing unmet social needs

By Melissa Patrick Kentucky Health News Addressing health disparities and inequities requires a commitment to address the unmet social needs that contribute to poor health, and that holds true in both African American and rural communities. That was the underlying message in a July 12 webinar hosted by the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky, titled “Covid-19 and Health Equity in Kentucky: Beyond...

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...

Beshear plans to restart Kynect, the health-insurance marketplace his father launched in 2013

By Melissa Patrick Kentucky Health News Gov. Andy Beshear has said he will restart the state health-insurance exchange that his father, then-Gov. Steve Beshear, began in 2013 under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Kynect was dismantled in 2017 by Republican Matt Bevin, who served between the two Democrats. Beshear announced that he had told federal officials of his intent to move to...

As masks become controversial, evidence mounts that they work in fight against COVID-19

As masks become controversial, evidence is mounting that they work in the battle against COVID-19. This is according to several studies. “Several new studies published this month support wearing masks to curb the transmission of the novel coronavirus,” The Washington Post reports. The broadest piece of research “concluded that data from 172 observational studies indicate wearing face...

Estimated coronavirus infection rates suggest hotspots moving to Louisville-Bluegrass corridor

Hotspots for the coronavirus in Kentucky appear to be moving from a gaggle of counties in near Western Kentucky to more urbanized counties along Interstate 64. Franklin County has the highest estimated rate of transmission, 1.36, on the CovidActNow website, which estimates rates for counties that have a sufficient number of cases and also categorizes counties by risk level, based on their hospitalizations,...

Pandemic has thwarted vaccinations; many vaccine-preventable illnesses are more deadly to kids

By Melissa Patrick Kentucky Health News Some Kentucky children have likely fallen behind in their routine immunizations because of the disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic, putting them at risk for measles, whooping cough and other life-threatening illnesses. Health experts say now is the time to get them caught up. “The risk of vaccine-preventable illnesses has not gone away due to...

Virus cases up, but Beshear says state fair is on, businesses can soon return to 50 percent capacity

By Melissa Patrick Kentucky Health News The number of coronavirus cases in Kentucky jumped again Tuesday, to 245, after two days of the lowest numbers the state had seen in some time, but Gov. Andy Beshear announced another relaxation of restrictions and gave the state fair a mostly green light. “Today’s numbers again show the virus is still out there,” Beshear said at his daily briefing....

Uptick in state’s coronavirus cases accelerates over weekend; 65 percent of new cases in Jefferson Co.

Kentucky Health News chart shows cases reported each day for the last month. (Click on it to enlarge.)> By Melissa Patrick Kentucky Health News Gov. Andy Beshear announced 319 new cases of the coronavirus on Saturday, one of the highest numbers the state has seen in weeks. “The virus is still out there. I know we’re tired. I know we all just want to have a normal summer,” Beshear said in a news...

COVID-19 cases continue to rise in Kentucky; Beshear talks testing, politics, schools, health

By Melissa Patrick Kentucky Health News The number of new, daily coronavirus cases in Kentucky continues to creep up, hitting a seven-day high of 295 on Thursday. Gov. Andy Beshear called the number “pretty high… elevated from where we were going for more than a week,” but said it is “a little too early” to say the trend has reversed and is on an upward trajectory. “Again,...

Coronavirus trend line continues to rise; protestors asked to wear masks to help control spread of virus

By Melissa Patrick Kentucky Health News Coronavirus cases showed a big drop on Sunday, but jumped again on Monday to a number similar to the elevated numbers seen near the end of last week. Prior to the elevation in numbers late last week, the state had seen a downward trend for almost two weeks. “Kentucky has had 131 new positive cases with zero new deaths on Sunday and 214 new cases with eight...

Plans in works to open schools in fall, despite some concerns that guidelines make it impossible

By Melissa Patrick Kentucky Health News Some Kentucky school superintendents say they wouldn’t be able to reopen schools under suggested state guidelines that require social distancing on school buses, rely on children to wear masks and will disrupt the normal class structure of upper grades. They voiced their concerns to public-health officials and the state education commissioner in an online...

Reopening when not quite ready to thwart COVID-19 means managing risk; four types, health expert writes

No state “has met the metrics to safely reopen,” so the nation “needs to move to the public health strategy of harm reduction,” says former Baltimore health commissioner Leana Wen. “So what does that mean in terms of choices each of us makes — what’s safe to do and what’s not?” Wen, an emergency physician and visiting professor at George Washington University’s...

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...

Testing, contact tracing planned to thwart spread of virus as economy reopens in Kentucky

By Melissa Patrick Kentucky Health News As Kentucky begins to reopen its economy, increased testing and contact tracing are the primary lines of defense to suppress a resurgence of the coronavirus and its covid-19 disease. Gov. Andy Beshear says the state is more than able to do the recommended 2 percent of testing that is called for in White House guidance to reopen the economy, which amounts to almost...

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....