Over 800 new cases for second day, 18 deaths; Beshear says Ky. is in a ‘dangerous place’ as another holiday weekend approaches

Kentucky Health News chart based on initial daily reports, which are adjusted slightly downward
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By Al Cross
Kentucky Health News

For the second day in a row, Kentucky reported more than 800 new cases of the novel coronavirus, and its seven-day average of new cases set a record. The state reported 18 deaths from covid-19, a near record. And the share of Kentuckians testing positive for the virus also went in the wrong direction.

“Tough report all the way around,” Gov. Andy Beshear said as he began giving the numbers, starting with 816 new cases, following 807 on Tuesday. “Not many days that we’ve had more than 800 back to back.” Actually, it’s the first time.

Beshear said he thought only two other days have had death tolls larger than 18. “Sadly, I think we’re gonna have a lot more days like today,” he said, because nearly 2 percent of Kentuckians who have tested positive for the virus have died of its disease. The last three days have seen 36 deaths.

Kentucky Health News chart

The share of Kentuckians testing positive in the last seven days rose to 4.71%, up from 4.4% Tuesday.

“We’re in a dangerous place, no question,” Beshear said, noting that the state is nearing a weekend that will include a rescheduled Kentucky Derby and Labor Day. Cases surged after the Memorial Day and July 4 holidays.

The Derby will have no fans, due to the pandemic, but Derby parties are a tradition in much of the state, and officials are warning about them.

“This weekend I need you to keep your gatherings small,” said the governor, noting his emergency order limiting noncommercial gatherings to 10 people. “Let’s not look back and say that something as special as what this weekend can be turned into the time when this virus got out of control.”

Beshear has also ordered that facial coverings be worn in indoor public spaces, and outdoors when people can’t stay six feet apart. “It’s gonna be more important than ever that we wear them,” he said of masks. “We’re about to do a lot more, especially as we come near the end of September,” when he has recommended that schools resume in-person classes.

“If we want to protect business, if we want to get our kids back in school, if we want to save lives, the number-one thing we need to do is wear a mask, and the number-two thing we need to do is stay six feet apart,” he said. “So if you love Kentucky, you love all three of those things, you love America, wear a mask.”

Earlier, referring to the politicization of the topic, he said, “It baffles me about how this has become any type of argument . . . I’ve got a document from the White House telling me that we need a mask mandate . . . and it’s working.”

The governor urged Kentuckians to trust public-health professionals: “Let’s remember that these people have dedicated their lives to this. They have the knowledge for it, and let’s listen to them.”

He added later, “The goofy conspiracy theories out there, you just can’t listen to. It’s not going away after an election, it’s not related to an election at all . . . This battle’s gonna go on until that vaccine is safe and until it can get out there to everybody… so we need you to have your game faces on, we need to continue to do the right things.”

Asked about the recent order that students wear masks in schools even when they are six feet apart, Beshear said Kentucky has learned from other states, where students congregated outside classrooms, and from schools that have had cases but not as many as might have been expected because students are wearing masks.

“I think this is a smart move,” he said. “It’s a little more stringent but we’ve got to sacrifice if we want to get our kids back to in-person learning.”

In other covid-19 news Wednesday:

  • The day’s total of new coronavirus cases raised the state’s total to 49,991. The 18 deaths raised its covid-19 toll to 966.
  • Beshear said several deaths came from “a single facility” and noted that the 18 fatalities included a 43-year-old man from Oldham County. Others were an 82-year-old man from Ballard County; a 79-year-old woman from Bell County; a 67-year-old man and a 91-year-old woman from Casey County; an 87-year-old woman from Christian County; two women, 65 and 79, from Fayette County; a 97-year-old woman from Lincoln County; a 77-year-old man from Martin County; a 91-year-old woman from Perry County; four women, 62, 78, 78 and 81, and an 83-year-old man from Todd County; and two women, ages 96 and 99, from Warren County.
  • Counties with more than 10 new cases were Jefferson, 215; Fayette, 59; Warren, 45; Kenton, 35; Nelson, 29; Madison, 22; Scott, 17; Boone, 15; Greenup, 14; Daviess, 13; Jackson, 12; and  Pulaski, 12.
  • Beshear said 116 of the 816 new cases were people 18 and under, and said Warren County had 12 of them, all from ages 11 to 18. He has often singled out the county, a coronavirus hotspot that is one of about 30 counties having in-person classes.
  • Evictions for most renters will be barred for the rest of the year by an order from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, on grounds that eviction might spread the virus by putting more people in cramped quarters or shelters. To qualify, tenants must attest to a substantial loss of income, inability to pay full rent and best efforts to pay partial rent, and stipulate that eviction would be likely to leave them homeless or force them to live with others at close quarters. Forms will be available on the CDC website when the order is published in the Federal Register. Beshear indicated that would be Friday. “We think that’s gonna answer the question in Kentucky” about evictions, which are the subject of a lawsuit. He said he would stuck to his plan of providing federal relief money to landlords.
  • The University of Kentucky said in a news release that it had expanded its dashboard that tracks the impact of the virus on the campus, including active cases, new cases, number of students in isolation, and the percentage of students and employees who have completed a required daily screening. It doesn’t give the positive-test rate, but the total number of tests (26,426) and positive results (575), which can be used to calculate the positive rate (2.1%). The dashboard says, “Based on active cases and daily attestation numbers, UK’s positivity rate remains below 2%.”
  • “Use of inexpensive, readily available steroid drugs to treat people hospitalized with covid-19 reduced the risk of death by one-third, according to an analysis encompassing seven different clinical trials conducted by the World Health Organization and published Wednesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association,” Stat reports.
  • The National Institutes of Health says there is not enough data to recommend for or against use of convalescent plasma as treatment for covid-19, despite the Food and Drug Administration‘s recent, emergency authorization of it.