A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Beshear asks coaches to put student health first, urges schools in ‘red zones’ to follow guidance

By Lisa Gillespie and Melissa Patrick Kentucky Health News With at least five Kentucky high school football games canceled due to the novel coronavirus only 11 days after the start of a delayed season, Gov. Andy Beshear said coaches are almost in a sacred position to protect the health of their student-athletes. “If I was running a high-school program, I would want my team to be getting tested on...

UK professor says Kentucky efforts at farmer suicide prevention, awareness a national model

By Melissa Patrick Kentucky Health News Kentucky farmers, like those across the nation, work tirelessly to stay afloat amid plummeting farm incomes, market instabilities, extreme weather conditions, few safety nets and now, a global pandemic. And sometimes those stressors add up, leading some to consider suicide, and others to die by it. To bring awareness to this issue, the General Assembly passed...

Kentucky lobbyist says feds send nursing homes quick-test kits, but with rules that deter their use

By Melissa Patrick Kentucky Health News Testing is one of the few tools nursing homes have to keep the novel coronavirus out of their facilities, and the Trump administration has tried to help by sending them equipment to conduct tests that give quick results. But while they were sent with good intention and are appreciated, the head of the state nursing-home association told Kentucky Health News that...

Nursing homes ‘need help’ from state; residents account for 58.6 percent of Kentucky’s COVID deaths

By Melissa Patrick Kentucky Health News As they remain the main sites for deadly infections of the novel coronavirus, Kentucky’s nursing homes are asking for more help from the state, which says much of the help they seek has already been provided or can’t be rendered. At a legislative committee meeting Aug. 26, the head of Kentucky’s main nursing-home association said nursing homes...

CDC publishes article on Kentucky monitoring system to guide decisions in reopening and response

By Melissa Patrick Kentucky Health News As health departments across the nation help states safely reopen their economies and schools, the monitoring system Kentucky officials use to guide their decisions has been lauded in a recent federal report as an example for other states to follow. The report, published in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly...

Syringe exchange programs could decrease IV drug-use infections, result in ‘big money saved’

By Melissa Patrick Kentucky Health News A new analysis of Medicaid claims data suggests that Kentucky counties with syringe-service programs have slightly lower rates of diseases associated with intravenous drug use, such as HIV and hepatitis C. The analysis estimated a progressive reduction of 0.5 percent per month, adding up to a 6 percent increase over a year. That can add up to savings, not only...

White House virus task force puts more than half of Kentucky counties in ‘red’ or ‘yellow’ danger zone

By Melissa Patrick Kentucky Health News The latest weekly White House Coronavirus Task Force report on Kentucky showed an increase in both red and yellow zones last week, with the number of counties in the red zone increasing by 54 percent. Twenty counties, up from 13, were in the task force’s “red zone” for places where new cases of the virus numbered more than 1 per 1,000 residents...

Kentucky health chief tells businesses that masks are key; lawyer tells how to enforce mandate

By Melissa Patrick Kentucky Health News The state’s top physician often says that basic public-health measures – like washing our hands, staying six feet apart and wearing a mask – are all we have right now to thwart the spread of the novel coronavirus until we get a vaccine. But masks are the most important, he indicated Friday. “That single measure is felt to be really a linchpin...

Many Kentucky counties lack syringe exchanges; includes 20 most vulnerable to disease outbreaks

By Melissa Patrick Kentucky Health News Most Kentucky counties now have harm-reduction programs to fight drug abuse, but the coronavirus pandemic has slowed their expansion and complicated the work of their syringe exchanges. Still, they’ve all continued to offer some level of service during the pandemic. Sixty-three counties have harm-reduction programs, and one more is in the works, but that...

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...

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...