After more new records for virus and hospital cases, Beshear says he will have to ‘take additional steps’ if trend continues

Department for Public Health map, relabeled by Kentucky Health News; to enlarge it, click on it.
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By Al Cross
Kentucky Health News

Kentucky continued to set records for coronavirus cases and covid-19 hospitalizations Saturday, prompting Gov. Andy Beshear to warn that he will have to “take additional steps” if the daily numbers don’t drop.

The state reported 3,303 new cases, 130 more than the record set Friday, and the seven-day rolling average jumped by 163, to 2,366.

All the hospitalization numbers were new highs. Kentucky hospitals reported 1,378 patients with covid-19, 308 of them in intensive care and 167 of those on ventilators. Beshear said this week that hospital systems in some areas are being strained by covid-19 patients, and hospitals would be overrun if the current trend continues.

The percentage of Kentuckians testing positive for the virus in the last seven days is 8.95%, more than double what it was a month ago.

“If we don’t grab ahold of those red-zone-county reduction recommendations, if we don’t see those steps being done and ultimately see those numbers coming down, we are going to have no choice but to take additional steps as we move forward,” Beshear said in the release.

“Please take this seriously. You are either a part of the solution fighting the good fight to help other people or you’re helping to spread this virus. So please, do your part. Do your civic duty. Wear your mask. There is so much suffering out there right now.”

Beshear was asked more than once this week if he was planning to impose more restrictions due to the surge in cases and hospitalizations. He said Thursday, after the state Supreme Court upheld is authority to issue emergency orders, that he was not looking to add new mandates: “Right now, we’ve got to get more buy-in from people for current mandates, for later ones to work.”

He said in Saturday’s news release, “If we’re not careful, it’s going to get even worse than this, which is almost unimaginable compared to where we were months ago.”

Health Commissioner Steven Stack said in the release, “We have had some frightening setbacks lately and the outlook is grim. I urge all Kentuckians to protect themselves and others by wearing a mask, watching your space and washing your hands. While we wait for a coronavirus vaccine, we should all be getting the flu vaccine.”

Stack said an influenza outbreak on top of the pandemic in the next few months, the heart of flu season, “would be disastrous.”

The state confirmed 11 more deaths from covid-19, raising Kentucky’s toll from the disease to 1,378. Beshear’s news release noted there have been “68 deaths in the last four days alone.”

The fatalities were a 90-year-old woman and 94-year-old man from Fayette County; a 72-year-old man and 93-year-old man from Jessamine County; a 70-year-old man from Kenton County; a 65-year-old man from Knott County; a 79-year-old woman from Lee County; a 69-year-old man from Lewis County; an 88-year-old man from McLean County; a 91-year-old woman from Perry County; and a 90-year-old woman from Wolfe County.

Lee County (Wikipedia map)

Lee County, population 7,000, had 178 of the 3,303 new cases, driven by outbreaks at a prison and a nursing home. Over the last week, its daily cases have averaged 0.6 per 1,000 residents; the next highest county, Monroe, has a rate of 0.18.

Other counties with more than 10 new cases were: Jefferson, 668; Fayette, 231; Hardin, 113; Boone, 100; McCracken, 80; Kenton, Daviess, 66; Nelson, 65; Warren, 63; Madison, 62; Shelby, 61; Floyd, 57; Campbell, 54; Bullitt, 49; Elliott, 46; Marshall, 41; Laurel, 38; Christian, 35; Spencer, 35; Graves, 34; Boyd, 33; Jessamine, 32; Taylor, 32; Marion, 31; Calloway, 30; Hopkins, 28; Johnson, 28; Barren, Boyle, Oldham and Rowan, 27 each; Greenup, 23; Carter, Clark and Henderson, 22 each; Whitley, 19; Bell and Scott, 18 each; Edmonson, Logan, Montgomery, Muhlenberg and Pulaski, 17 each; Clay, Henry, Knox, Lawrence and Wayne, 16 each; Caldwell, Grayson, Perry and Pike, 15 each; Casey, Monroe and Woodford, 14 each; Bourbon, Clinton, Franklin, Powell and Washington, 13 each; Grant, 12; Anderson, Breathitt, Breckinridge, LaRue, Metcalfe and Webster, 11 each.In other coronavirus news and opinion:

  • “The uncontrolled coronavirus outbreak is prompting government officials across the nation to impose new restrictions on consumers and businesses, sapping the economy’s momentum and delaying the recovery of millions of jobs lost during the recession,” The Washington Post reports, noting tighter restrictions on restaurants and indoor gatherings in Virginia and a threat of a statewide stay-at-home order by the Illinois governor.
  • The Post adds, “Washington’s failure to provide additional financial support is compounding the economic distress.” President Trump said on Twitter, “Congress must now do a Covid Relief Bill.”
  • “As a third wave of covid-19 bears down on the United States, we are increasingly a society of defensive, self-protective winners and angry and resentful losers,” Post columnist Helaine Olen writes. “The virus, which many once hoped might at least help bring our fractured society together, has turned into yet another way to divide us.”