Cases remain stable, as daily number equals 7-day average; Cameron trying to join suit against Beshear’s business restrictions

By Melissa Patrick

Kentucky Health News
After announcing 220 new cases and seven new deaths from the novel coronavirus, Gov. Andy Beshear again stressed that it is up to Kentuckians to thwart its spread as the state enters its final phase of reopening.

“We’ve got to keep these case numbers under control,” Beshear said in a news release. “We’re doing a good job, but we’ve got to work even harder. We can’t let our guard down when an invisible enemy is still out there.”

The 220 cases brought the seven-day rolling average to 220. Including the new cases, Kentucky’s total cases are now up to 15,842 and its death toll is up to 568. The daily report shows that 427 Kentuckians are currently hospitalized, with 73 in intensive care. The hospitalization number continues to rise; it is now the largest since June 11, when it was 514.
Beshear and his administration regularly implore Kentuckians to do four things that are proven to keep the virus at bay: keep their hands washed, socially distance from anyone they don’t live with, get tested, and most importantly, wear a mask.

Beshear said yesterday that Kentucky continues to be in a plateau, between 150 and 300 new cases daily. That said, on Monday the state’s bars opened, restaurants increased their capacity to 50% and groups of 50 or less were allowed to gather,  prompting a push for extra caution.

“As we’ve seen from other states experiencing spikes in cases right now, rising to the challenge is our only option,” Beshear said. “We simply cannot overwhelm our hospital system and risk the lives of our front-line health-care professionals who have already sacrificed so much.”

Wednesday’s deaths were an 89-year-old woman from Fayette County; an 88-year-old man from Jackson County; a 63-year-old woman and 86- and 97-year-old men from Jefferson County; a 54-year-old man from Oldham County; and a 94-year-old woman from Shelby County.

Sixty-six percent of the state’s deaths from the virus are in long-term care facilities. Click here for the daily long-term care report.

Counties with the highest number of new cases Wednesday were Jefferson, 41; Fayette, 35; Warren, 14; and Hardin and Laurel, nine each.

In other covid-19 news Wednesday:

  • Attorney General Daniel Cameron is attempting to join a lawsuit in Boone County that seeks to strike down Gov. Andy Beshear’s coronavirus-related restrictions on local businesses, Billy Kobin reports for the Louisville Courier Journal. Cameron’s motion says Beshear has already lost court battles over limits on in-person church services, out-of-state travel and protests at the state Capitol. Leaders of the state House’s Republican majority have endorsed the effort. “Governor Beshear has consistently refused to curtail his overreach until a court orders him to do so,” Cameron’s motion says.
  • In a special to the Courier Journal, Dana McMahan reports on how to stay safe in bars during the pandemic. Kentucky bars were allowed to open at half capacity on Monday. Beshear suggested Tuesday that one way to ensure social distancing in a bar would be to make sure everyone allowed in is assigned an appropriately distanced chair and stays in it except to use a rest room.
  • Athletic-team workouts that are not part of an official start of practice have stopped in three Kentucky school districts due to coronavirus infections, Valarie Honeycutt Spears and Jared Peck report for the Lexington Herald-Leader. 
  • Lexington will reopen city playgrounds and individual basketball courts July 4, Beth Musgrave reports for the Herald-Leader. “Children will need to wear masks and be encouraged to keep their distance from other children,” said Monica Conrad, director of parks and recreation. “Parents should keep their children out of the playground if it is crowded.” Musgrave reports that the city will open its four spraygrounds later in July, with required reservations.
  • The Herald-Leader reports on what to do if you get a call from a contact tracer, with a warning about possible scammers who may try to steal money or get personal information. “You may receive a call, email, text or visit from a contact tracer, and you should not hesitate to talk with them,” said Andrew Smith of the Federal Trade Commission. “Beware if they ask you for money, bank account information, your Social Security number, or to click on a link, as those are sure signs of a scam.”
  • The state Department of Education advisory group offers feedback on the “Healthy at School” guidance that was released last week.
  • Two Kentucky health department officials talked with Kaiser Health News about the challenges their departments face during the pandemic, amid an overall system that an investigation found is “underfunded and under threat, unable to protect the nation’s health.” Scott Lockard, public health director for the Kentucky River District Health Department, said he is battling the pandemic with 3G cell service, paper records and one-third of the employees the department had 20 years ago.
  • New guidance from the Food and Drug Administration urges vaccine sponsors to include diverse populations in all stages of their clinical trials, especially minorities, the elderly, pregnant women and people with underlying medical conditions. It also calls for a plan that shows the  safety and effectiveness of the vaccine in children, according to a FDA news release.
  • “While the FDA is committed to expediting this work, we will not cut corners in our decisions and are making clear through this guidance what data should be submitted to meet our regulatory standards. This is particularly important, as we know that some people are skeptical of vaccine development efforts,” said FDA Commissioner Stephen M. Hahn, a physician. “We have not lost sight of our responsibility to the American people to maintain our regulatory independence and ensure our decisions related to all medical products, including covid-19 vaccines, are based on science and the available data. This is a commitment that the American public can have confidence in and one that I will continue to uphold.”
  • “The American testing supply chain is stretched to the limit, and the ongoing outbreak in the South and West could overwhelm it, according to epidemiologists and testing-company executives,” The Atlantic reports. “While the country’s laboratories have added tremendous capacity in the past few months—the U.S. now tests about 550,000 people each day, a five-fold increase from early April—demand for viral tests is again outpacing supply.”
  • The Washington Post reports on what coronavirus autopsies have revealed.