Kentucky Health News
As coronavirus cases in Kentucky kept trending upward — hitting the highest seven-day rolling average of 413 — Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear chastised Republican Attorney General Daniel Cameron for asking a judge to block all of his executive orders under the covid-19 state of emergency.
“I’m going to do what it takes to protect the people of Kentucky, but folks, this is wrong,” Beshear said at a news conference. “It is really, really wrong. Don’t play politics with the lives of people.”
Cameron’s motion was filed Wednesday in Boone Circuit Court, with the same judge who recently issued a restraining order blocking attendance limits at automobile racetracks and class-size limits at child-care centers. Judge Richard Bruggemann asked for additional filings, and said he wouldn’t issue a ruling until next week, WKYT-TV reports.
Beshear referred to Cameron’s motion as “possibly the gravest threat that I’ve ever seen since we started this” pandemic. He said Cameron seeks to overturn “every single order that we have put in place to protect people . . . and to not allow my office or me to put any orders in in the future that would help protect you and everyone else. . . . It’s truly frightening.”
He said that with no emergency rules, “There is no chance of getting kids back to school, we will lose over $10 billion in our economy, and many Kentuckians will die. I hope everyone understands how scary and reckless this is,” Beshear said on Twitter.
|Beshear and Cameron are pictured after the former
appointed the latter to succeed him in December.
Cameron later tweeted that Beshear has failed to collaborate with his office or with Republican legislators “to make sure that covid-19 restrictions balance public health with the law.” He added, “This is not about the governor’s policies, it’s about making sure he follows the law.”
Beshear said at a news conference that if this motion is allowed, “It means people would die.” He added, “This would remove the authority that virtually every other governor is using to battle this virus; it would result in a spike. There’s no question, if there’s no rules, you don’t have to socially distance, you don’t have to sanitize your hands, the virus spreads.”
Beshear said that in addition to removing such requirements, Cameron’s request would void expanded workers’ compensation for covid-19 victims and his waivers of insurance rules requiring co-payments, deductibles, cost-sharing and testing fees.
Democratic leaders in the Republican-controlled legislature issued a statement saying, “It is difficult to fathom why anyone, much less our chief law-enforcement officer, would want to take such drastic action. The law, however, is clear: The General Assembly has granted broad emergency powers to the governor, and we reinforced that during the final days of this year’s legislative session.”
Cameron’s motion quoted from a deposition given by state Health Commissioner Steven Stack, in which he said Beshear’s orders “are based upon a ‘value judgment’ involving a ‘weighted risk-benefit analysis,’ which asks whether the activity being regulated is “necessary to . . . human activity.” Stack also said he and Beshear “would like to keep people away from each other so that they don’t spread infection, but there are counterbalancing considerations in society,” such as “human commerce and social engagements.”
Appearing on Kentucky Sports Radio, Beshear called Cameron’s motion “reckless” and “unbelievable,” Joe Sonka reports for the Louisville Courier Journal. “We in Kentucky and in America are at war with covid-19 and the attorney general wants to come collect all of our ammunition and say ‘good luck with the enemy,'” Beshear said.
Scott Circuit Judge Brian Privett held a hearing Thursday afternoon on Cameron’s request that he decide whether the governor’s mask order violated a temporary restraining order that Privett issued last week.
Today, Beshear announced 413 new cases of the coronavirus, down from 477 yesterday, but the increase over the past week took the seven-day average to 413, a new high.
“What we are seeing across the country is alarming. We are seeing state after state not just facing escalating cases, but facing devastation,” Beshear said, pointing to Florida, which has run out of ICU beds and Arizona and Texas, which are bringing in refrigerated trucks to serve as morgues.
“That ought to convince everybody of the seriousness of the situation we face and what a critical moment right now is,” he said. “There’s nothing that means that we can’t end up like any of those states if we don’t do the right thing.”
Recommendations to thwart the disease remain the same, increased hand hygiene, social distancing, testing and most importantly, for everyone to wear a mask when they are out in public or in groups that don’t include those who live in the same household.
The head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told the Journal of the American Medical Association on Tuesday that the nation could get the pandemic under control in one to two months if all Americans wear face coverings in public spaces. WLEX-TV reports.
Five more people have died from the virus, bringing the state’s death toll to 650. They were a 91-year-old woman from Fayette County; a 59-year-old man and a 90-year-old woman from Knox County; and an 83-year-old man and a 92-year-old woman from Jefferson County.
Long-term-care facilities continue to be hit hard with the virus, with 51 more residents and 47 more staff testing positive and three more residents dying from it.
Kentucky’s total number of cases is at least 21,083. Beshear said 13 of the newly infected on today’s lost were under five years old, a record. “These kids are counting on us to do the right thing,” he said. “Our new cases come from all types of counties. And remember, deaths follow cases.”
The positive-test rate is up to 4.38 percent. “Once it gets to 5 percent, it’s of real concern,” Beshear said.
In other covid-19 news Thursday:
- Counties with the most new cases on the state’s daily report included Jefferson, 69; Ohio, 25; Boone, 22; Warren, 20; Kenton, 17; Graves, 15; Fayette and Muhlenberg, 12 each; and Bell and Casey, 11 each.
- Fayette County, which follows a different reporting schedule, reported 69 new cases Thursday, the second-highest number in a single day. Those testing positive are markedly younger, Sarah Michels reports for the Herald-Leader. The Lexington-Fayette County Health Department reports that 31 percent of the county’s total cases have been found in the last 15 days. “We understand that people are tired of covid-19; there’s definitely a fatigue among the population,” health department spokesman Kevin Hall said. “But it’s not going away and is, in fact, getting more widespread in Lexington.”
- Beshear urged Kentuckians with outstanding unemployment claims to answer their phone, saying about half of calls are going unanswered. The number is (502) 333-9130.