‘This week is absolutely critical,’ Beshear says in announcing 1,032 new coronavirus cases, a Mon. high; positivity rate 6.25%

State Department for Public Health chart, relabeled by Kentucky Health News; click it to enlarge

By Melissa Patrick
Kentucky Health News

Gov. Andy Beshear announced 1,032 new cases of the novel coronavirus Monday, setting a record for the highest number reported on the day of the week that case numbers are usually low.

Beshear also announced that the share of Kentuckians testing positive for the virus in the last seven days was 6.25 percent, the highest since June 1, and five of the last seven days have set records for single-day case numbers.

State chart, relabeled by Ky. Health News; click to enlarge

And all that after an official Monday-through-Sunday reporting week with the highest number of cases yet, 11,774.

“In America and in Kentucky . . . this is getting increasingly more and more dangerous. The newest numbers are absolutely staggering,” Beshear said at his daily briefing, now being held remotely.

Nationwide, with more than 9 million cases and 231,000 deaths, Beshear said an American tests positive for the virus every 1.2 seconds and dies every minute and 47 seconds from covid-19.

Hospitalizations for covid-19 also remain high, at 988, with 270 of them in intensive care and 142 of those on a ventilator. Yesterday set the record for the most hospitalized, at 994.

Again, Beshear called on people, institutions and governments in counties averaging at least 25 new cases per 100,000 people to follow the state’s recommended precautions to slow the spread of the virus. This week, there are 68 counties in that “red zone.”

“Knowing that this week is absolutely critical, and there is the highest chance that you will get covid or that you could potentially bring it back to your family than you have ever seen in your community, if you are in a red-zone county, we need everybody following these recommendations,” he said. “Otherwise, this escalation continues to increase.”

Despite the governor’s regular urging, two large school districts next to Lexington, Jessamine and Scott counties, are continuing to hold in-person class this week though they are in the red zone, Valerie Honeycutt Spears reports for the Lexington Herald-Leader. Billy Kobin of the Louisville Courier Journal reports on several other red-zone districts that are still holding in-person classes.

Beshear said one reason for the latest surge in cases is a decline in mask wearing. To show how his mask mandate has worked, he showed graphs that compared case and death rates with Tennessee, which leaves mask rules up to counties. Both graphs showed lower rates in Kentucky, though the gap has narrowed recently. (Graph below shows cases; for a larger version, click on it.)

Mask mandates are expected to start affecting case numbers 10 to 14 days after they take effect.

“That shows you graphically what that mask mandate has accomplished thus far,” he said. “Now as our line gets closer to their line, we’re not wearing our masks as much as we used to. The effectiveness of our mandate is how many people wear them each and every day, so we need everybody to pick it up.”

Recent studies in Tennessee and Kansas, comparing counties with and without mask mandates, show that masks slow the spread of the virus, as measured by case numbers in Kansas and hospitalizations in Tennessee.

Beshear reported three more deaths from covid-19 on Monday, bringing the state’s death toll to 1,492: an 82-year-old man from Hardin County, a 93-year-old man from Jessamine County and a 59-year-old man from Whitley County, who was a health-care worker.

In other covid-19 news Monday: 

  • Counties with 10 or more new cases of the virus are Jefferson, 200; Fayette, 147; Warren, 31; McCracken, 30; Kenton, 29; Bullitt, 28; Boone, 24; Floyd, Hardin and Whitley, 22 each; Daviess, 21; Hopkins, 19; Calloway, 16; Campbell, 15; Carter, Graves, Madison, Mercer and Shelby, 12 each; Hart and Pike, 11 each; and Boyle, Jackson and Lewis, 10 each.
  • In long-term care facilities, 57 more residents and 39 more staff have tested positive or the virus, with 1,109 active resident cases and 641 active staff cases. There have been 892 resident deaths and six staff deaths attributed to covid-19.
  • The college and university report shows 608 new student and eight new staff cases in the last 14 days, with 203 of the student cases and one staff case reported today.
  • The K-12 schools report, which includes only confirmed cases, shows 785 students and 383 staff tested positive for the virus in the past 14 days, with 183 students and 77 staff cases reported today. Two staff have died from covid-19. The K-12 dashboard was last updated Oct. 30.
  • Beshear said he has designated $15 million in CARES Act funding for the Healthy at Home Utility Relief Fund, which can assist households that have suffered financially due to the pandemic, covering up to $500 for past-due utility bills. For a limited number of households with income up to double the federal poverty level, the fund can pay up to $200 for past-due electric or natural-gas bills, up to twice. Kentuckians can apply at their local Community Action office; for locations, call 800-456-3452 or go to www.capky.org.
  • Sarah Ladd of the Courier Journal reports how to vote if you tested positive for the virus a few days before the election. “A voter who did not request an absentee ballot prior to Oct. 9 can still do so in case of ‘medical emergency,’ which includes this situation,” Secretary of State Michael Adams tweeted Thursday. “We have a way to get you that ballot. You will need to contact your county clerk.”
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