Ky. records 1,346 new cases, the most found in one day; Beshear asks local officials to work on mask compliance and gatherings

Kentucky Health News graph, based on unadjusted initial daily reports
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By Melissa Patrick

Kentucky Health News
Gov. Andy Beshear’s hope for a stabilization in coronavirus cases was crushed Wednesday as he announced 1,346 cases, which brought the unadjusted seven-day rolling average of daily new cases to 937, the state’s highest yet.
Not counting last Wednesday’s number of 2,398, which included 1,472 backlogged cases from Fayette County, today’s case number sets the record for the most new cases in a single day.
“Maybe this is a jolt or shock to the system, but everybody ought to be concerned and everybody ought to be doing the right thing,” Beshear said. “And those that are out there that try to confront you for wearing a mask, who are being a jerk, that’s all they are and they’re putting your health at risk. So do the right thing. The vast majority of people are with you. . . . Let’s push the complacency out. Let’s get some urgency back in.”
Beshear said at his daily briefing that Kentucky is in its third escalation and cautioned that if it doesn’t do what it takes to get it under control again, as it did with its last two escalations, that level is going to be “way too high” as we move into the fall and winter.
The share of Kentuckians testing positive for the virus in the past seven days continues to inch its way back up toward the 5 percent mark. It was 4.72% Wednesday.
Beshear noted that covid-19 hospitalizations, intensive-care patients and ventilator use all increased since yesterday, with 711 people hospitalized, up from 704 yesterday; 185 in intensive care, up from 170; and 113 on ventilators, up from 90. He said hospital capacity isn’t threatened.
Beshear said he talked to at least 150 mayors and county judge-executives on a morning phone call where they talked about a range of covid-19 topics. He said he made two major pushes: the need for them to continue to push the mask mandate and encourage social gatherings to be kept to 10 or fewer people, because the state is seeing a lot of virus spread at such events.
“If we can continue to be good about all of the other guidelines that are out there, I think we can stop this new escalation,” the governor said. “Those are the two areas where I think we get the biggest impact, where we will see the largest reduction or at least the the best way to stop the escalation.”
Beshear announced seven new deaths from covid-19 on Wednesday, bringing the state’s death toll to 1,276. The fatalities include a 76-year-old man from Boyd County; a 76-year-old man from Bullitt County; a 49-year-old woman from Fayette County; a 78-year-old man from Franklin County; an 82-year-old woman from Henderson County; a 76-year-old man from Jefferson County; and an 81-year-old man from Webster County.
He said two of the deaths were veterans who were at the Thomson-Hood Veterans Center in Wilmore. The facility had an outbreak earlier this month and continues to have active cases. The report for all long-term-care facilities shows the center had five more residents and three more staffers test positive for the virus, with 34 active resident cases and 19 active staff cases.
“Those are now the second and third veterans in our veteran’s nursing homes that we have lost. It’s another reason to make sure that we’re doing everything we can to stop the spread of this [virus],” he said.

Health Commissioner Steven Stack announced that four health departments will partner with the state to increase testing in areas that need more: the Purchase District Health Department, serving McCracken, Ballard, Carlisle, Hickman and Fulton counties, the Ashland-Boyd Health Department, serving Boyd, Greenup, Carter and Lawrence counties; the Kentucky River Health Department, serving Lee, Wolfe and Owsley counties; and Lincoln Trail Health Department, serving Hardin, Meade, LaRue, Nelson, Marion, Washington, Breckinridge and Grayson counties.

In other covid-19 news Wednesday:

  • In long-term care, 77 more residents and 58 new staffers tested positive for the virus, making for active cases among 857 residents and 545 staff, according to the long-term care report. There have been 772 resident deaths and five staff deaths.
  • The K-12 report shows 438 students and 227 staff tested positive for the virus in the past 14 days.
  • The college and university report shows 512 students and four staff tested positive in the past 14 days.
  • Of today’s new cases, 171 were Kentuckians 18 and under, and 34 of them were five and under.
  • Louisville health officials say they have found a demographic shift in coronavirus cases, with more cases now being seen in people between 30 and 50, WDRB reports. “Something we saw early on were people with a lot of co-morbidities, so people who had other health problems underlying,” Dr. Sonia Compton said at a news conference Tuesday. “Now, we’re seeing people with fewer underlying health issues, people who just might have high blood pressure or people who may just be slightly overweight. And that’s a concern.”
  • Princeton University study shows detailed videos of speech spittle and offers some good news: face masks can “effectively contain a significant portion of expelled aerosols,” and even wearing lip balm can reduce the droplets that form during speaking, reports the Lexington Herald-Leader.  The study is published in the journal Physical Review Fluids. 
  • The Co-Immunity Project at the University of Louisville that is researching the spread of the virus in Jefferson County found a “stark disparity” in infection rates in West Louisville, a largely Black community, that needs to be “a clarion call for all of us to work together to neutralize the pernicious influence of systemic and structural causes that sustain and perpetuate such inequities,” Aruni Bhatnagar and Ben Chandler of the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky write in an opinion piece for the Courier Journal.
  • According to a Kentucky Hospital Association report, titled “On the Front Lines: The Impact of Covid-19 on Kentucky Hospitals,”  many rural hospitals in Kentucky were already in financial crisis before the pandemic, with between 16 and 28 at risk of closure if their financial situation does not improve. The report says, “The additional strain imposed by covid-19 will exacerbate an already critical financial problem for Kentucky’s rural hospitals.”
  • MedPage Today honors health-care workers across the nation who have died of covid-19. The list includes Dana Davis, who was an RN at Baptist Health Louisville and Dr. Rebecca Shadowen, an infectious-disease physician in Bowling Green.