Virus cases still on plateau, but hospitalizations and intensive-care usage are up; Beshear and McConnell both say, wear a mask!

Kentucky Health News chart; hospital data not reported on previous weekends

By Melissa Patrick
Kentucky Health News

Kentucky reported 268 new cases of the coronavirus Monday, and about as many for each day of the holiday weekend, bringing its seven-day rolling average to a new high of 263.

Daily reports were not issued over the weekend. Gov. Andy Beshear’s press release reported 255 new cases Saturday and 280 on Sunday. As usual, it did not mention the seven-day average.

“While the day-to-day reported cases fluctuate somewhat, our numbers have been holding remarkably steady even as other states have experienced sharp increases,” Beshear said in the release. “We can stay on this plateau and hopefully move to a steady decline in cases only if we follow the guidelines for social distancing, hand-washing, wearing cloth face masks and limiting our exposure to crowds. We also need to get tested regularly and to answer the call when contact tracers reach out with information.”

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell also stressed the importance of wearing a face mask today during a visit to Louisville.

“The single most important thing that each of us can do as individuals to protect not only ourselves, but our friends and colleagues is to wear a mask,” he said.

The state’s daily report said 433 Kentuckians are hospitalized and 109 of them are in intensive care, apparently the most yet. Beshear has said that in addition to maintaining a plateau of new cases, hospitalizations and intensive-care cases are important metrics to watch as the state tries to function during a pandemic.

Beshear said eight more Kentuckians have died from the virus, bringing the state’s death toll to 593. “Even knowing that our response in Kentucky is rightly being recognized nationally for keeping covid-19 in check, we need to remember this is still a deadly virus,” he said.

The deaths include a 72-year-old man from Hopkins County; an 88-year-old man from Nelson County; a 96-year-old woman from Shelby County; two women, ages 100 and 103, from Fayette County; and from Jefferson County, a 90-year-old man and two women, 51 and 89.

The daily long-term care facility report shows that at least 565 residents and 321 staff have tested positive for the virus, bringing those respective numbers up to 1,998 and 992. Sixty-five percent of deaths from covid-19 have been in these facilities.

Counties with the highest number of new cases were Jefferson, 65; Fayette, 37; Carroll, 18; Warren, 14; Campbell and Christian, 10 each; and Shelby, nine.

Over the weekend, the Lexington-Fayette County Health Department reported 76 new cases and one death, reports the Lexington Herald-Leader. “June was Lexington’s worst covid-19 month, with record numbers reported in cases, hospitalizations and deaths, according to health department data. Three of the five largest single-day case increases came in the last full week of June,” Jeremy Chisenhall reports.

In other covid-19 news Monday:

  • The news release said Beshear has again extended his executive order against price gouging. If you suspect gouging, call the attorney general’s consumer-protection hotline at 888-423-9257 or fill out the complaint form online.
  • Beshear will hold his next press briefing on Thursday, July 9 at 4 p.m. instead of Tuesday, July 7, as previously planned.
  • The Herald-Leader reports on what you need to know before your next doctor’s visit. Kaiser Health News reports on what seniors should know before going ahead with elective procedures.
  • The Louisville Courier Journal provides video of McConnell’s July 6 visit to the Dare To Care food bank in Louisville. The seven-minute video includes his discussion about the federal pandemic response, how it affected Kentucky and what is next, including the consideration of another financial package that he said must focus on including liability protections to protect against “an epidemic of lawsuits,” children going back to school, jobs and healthcare. WFPL also reports on his visit.
  • Kentucky High School Athletic Association Commissioner Julian Tackett is scheduled to give an update on restarting school athletics during Tuesday’s 10:30 a.m. meeting of the legislature’s Interim Joint Committee on Education. He will also join the webcast for the state’s school superintendents Tuesday from 2 to 4 p.m. Click here to watch the webcast. Click here to watch the committee meeting via Kentucky Educational Television. The committee meeting will also include a discussion about the critical needs for reopening schools during the pandemic and covid-19 and state school funding.
  • WHAS-TV took a deep dive into the data to show which counties in Kentucky had the largest covid-19 case increase from June to July. The top 10 counties were Bell, Casey, Clay, Fleming, Harlan, Knox, Laurel, Lawrence, Morgan and Powell. The story includes a pdf that includes  the percent of increase from June to July for every county in the state.
  • “Fifty-seven former government scientists and public health officials of both parties called on Monday for a science-based approach to the coronavirus pandemic and criticized the Trump administration for marginalizing science and expertise in its response,” The Washington Post reports.
  • Vox reports on why covid-19 cases are rising, but deaths are falling. “The most important thing to understand is that this is actually to be expected. There is a long lag — as long as six weeks, experts told me — between when a person gets infected and when their death would be reported in the official tally,” Dylan Scott reports.
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention survey of 350 adults who tested positive for the coronavirus found that only 46% of them could report recent contact with a covid-19 patient, and most of the reported contacts were either a family member (45%) or a work colleague (34%). “Fewer than one half of patients were aware of recent close contact with someone with covid-19, highlighting a need for increased screening, case investigation, contact tracing, and isolation of infected persons during periods of community transmission. This finding suggests that ensuring social distancing and more widespread use of cloth face coverings are warranted,” says the report.
  • Using data it had to sue the CDC to get, The New York Times offers “the fullest look yet at the racial inequity of coronavirus.” The conclusion: “Latino and African-American residents of the United States have been three times as likely to become infected as their white neighbors, according to the new data, which provides detailed characteristics of 640,000 infections detected in nearly 1,000 U.S. counties. And Black and Latino people have been nearly twice as likely to die from the virus as white people, the data shows.”
  • Gallup Poll taken June 22-28 found that 54% of Americans say they are worried about the lack of social distancing in their communities and that 86% of respondents said they had worn a face mask in the last week, up from 51% in early April and 79% in mid-May. That said, there still remains a 32-percentage point gap in Democrats’ and Republicans’ reported mask usage in the past week, 98% and 66% respectively. The report says this is the widest this gap has been since they started asking the question.