State records 825 new cases, 4th highest of pandemic; positive-test rate still below 5%; health chief warns about Derby Week

Kentucky Health News chart, based on initial reports of daily case numbers, not later adjustments.
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By Al Cross
Kentucky Health News

The spread of the coronavirus continued to accelerate slowly in Kentucky Saturday, with 825 new cases, the fourth largest daily number of the pandemic, and creating its third highest seven-day total. The number of cases has increased every day since Monday, a day when numbers are usually low.

The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 659. It has increased nine days of the last 10, and the only decrease was 1.

“Thankfully, our positivity rate is still below five at 4.59%,” Gov. Andy Beshear said in a press release, referring to the share of Kentuckians testing positive for the virus in the last seven days. For all but one day of the last week, it has been below 5%, a key threshold in suppressing the virus.

Beshear said, “Please do your part, live for your fellow human being, and understand that we are all connected and that your decisions truly matter.”

The release reported 145 new cases in among Kentuckians 18 and younger, 15 of them age 5 or younger, including two eight months old.

Lincoln County (Wikipedia map)

Three more deaths were reported, all from Lincoln County: an 86-year-old woman and men 81 and 94. “That’s one county grieving three losses of its own,” Beshear said. “That’s three more families who are suffering during this time.”

Health Commissioner Steven Stack looked ahead to an unusual Kentucky Derby Week. “Now is the time to consider how you will celebrate Oaks, Derby and Labor Day in a way that allows you to share time with others while respecting the required masking and social distancing protocols,” he said.

“As you may recall, as the number of new cases was leveling off months ago, Memorial Day and the Fourth of July resulted in celebrations and mingling. A noticeable spike in the number of positive covid-19 cases followed. Then, the mask mandate went into effect and Kentuckians took extra care in social distancing and avoiding visits to other states known as ‘hot spots.’ This successfully plateaued our new weekly cases.”

Stack, a physician, warned, “If the running of the Oaks, the Kentucky Derby and Labor Day activities reflect other summer holidays, though, cases will spike again and Kentucky will have a setback to the progress we have made by working together. Please, let’s show we can learn from the other holidays. Let’s not slip and lose progress against our fight against the coronavirus.”

Eighty of the state’s 120 counties had a new case Saturday. Counties reporting more than five were Jefferson, 263; Warren, 65; Fayette, 49; Todd, 29; Madison, 26; Boone, 14; Hardin, 14; Pike, 14; McCracken, 13; Lewis, 12; Pulaski, 12; Jessamine, 11; Bath, Daviess, Kenton and Monroe, 9 each; Bell, Boyd, Campbell, Hopkins, Logan and Montgomery, 8 each; Christian, Harlan, Jackson, Laurel and Oldham, 7 each; Barren, Green, Hart, Nelson, Rowan and Shelby, 6 each.

In other covid-19 news Saturday:

  • Hospitalizations for covid-19 in Kentucky remained steady, at 570, with 149 of the patients in intensive care, the state’s daily report said.
  • The state’s highest court now has all the written arguments in a case challenging the constitutionality of Beshear’s emergency orders, reports the Lexington Herald-Leader. The court will hear oral arguments Sept, 17 “and then will decide what is certain to be a historic case,” Jack Brammer writes. “It is not known how long it will take the Supreme Court to make a decision. At stake are dozens of emergency orders ranging from a requirement for most Kentuckians to wear a mask in public to class size in child care centers.” The Courier Journal highlights the opposing arguments of Beshear and Attorney General Daniel Cameron.
  • Two Louisville bars have filed suit challenging Beshear’s limits on bars, asking that they be awarded “just compensation” if the orders are judged constitutional.
  • Lexington Christian Academy told WTVQ that it started in-person classes Aug. 19, against Beshear’s recommendation, because “a very deliberate communication plan” made sure students knew what was expected of them and in-person classes are better for their mental health.
  • “Experts across the U.S. say the country can mount a comeback if it embraces reality and taps into its ingenuity,” National Geographic headlines a story by Craig Welch, who writes, “First, we must knuckle down and accomplish the obvious: Continue social distancing and strive for universal mask use. Close high-risk spaces, such as churches, bars, and casinos. Spend time outdoors. Limit crowds. Wash our hands. Build up contact tracing. . . . But given national failures thus far, many experts are also pushing for a new way forward based on innovation—specifically, cheaper, faster tests that millions could take at home every day. We’re still just beginning that process.”