A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

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...

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...

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...

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...

County Health Rankings show largest shifts in middle rankings; familiar names at top, bottom

By Melissa Patrick Kentucky Health News The latest County Health Rankings report for Kentucky shows little change in the top and bottom quarters of the standings, with most of the bigger shifts among counties in the middle. The rankings measure health outcomes, gauged by life expectancy and measures of quality of life; and health factors, such as access to physicians and areas to exercise, tobacco...

COVID-19 pandemic has made telehealth necessary, easier to get, and sure to continue in current form

By Melissa Patrick Kentucky Health News Federal officials on a rural health webinar applauded the federal government’s efforts to expand telehealth during the coronavirus pandemic, and predicted its uptick will continue long after the crisis is over. “I can tell you from personal experience that we are never going back,” said Dr. Jeff Colyer, a surgeon who chairs the National Advisory...

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...

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...

With 46 percent of state’s COVID-19 deaths, Kentucky’s long-term care facilities a virus tinderbox

By Melissa Patrick Kentucky Health News With 46 percent of Kentucky’s COVID-19 deaths occurring in long-term-care facilities, up from 32 percent just a week ago, nursing homes continue to be a tinderbox for the coronavirus. That has prompted state officials to ramp up testing and to create a Long-Term Care Task Force charged with finding ways to slow down the spread of the virus inside these...

Officials call for more coronavirus testing, expect new antibody tests to be key to reopening economy

By Melissa Patrick Kentucky Health News Health experts say more coronavirus testing — both for the virus itself and for antibodies that show whether a person has been previously infected — is needed before the nation and the states consider relaxing social-distancing rules and “reopening the economy,” as President Trump says he wants to do. “How we are able to move forward...

Clinicians suspected Kentucky’s first case of coronavirus, but patient didn’t qualify for testing

Crystal Miller, head of the health department serving Harrison County, at a press conference Saturday. Others, L to R: Gov. Andy Beshear; Health Commissioner Steven Stack; Harrison County Judge-Executive Alex Barnett; Cynthiana Mayor James Smith; and Mark Newman, head of UK HealthCare. (Photo from KHN) By Melissa Patrick and Al Cross Kentucky Health News Kentucky found its first case of the new coronavirus,...

Risk of Americans getting new coronavirus remains low, but top expert cautions this is evolving situation

By Melissa Patrick Kentucky Health News Kentucky health officials have been monitoring more than 100 people for the novel coronavirus, all of whom agreed to voluntary isolation after recent travel to mainland China, but as of Sunday there had been no confirmed cases in Kentucky. The state has tested one person for the virus, and that test came back negative, Gov. Andy Beshear said at a Feb. 27 press...