The day after Gov. Andy Beshear ordered mandatory use of masks in public, Kentucky saw a near-record number of new cases of the coronavirus.
“Today’s report is the second-highest total, I believe, that we’ve ever had in Kentucky,” Beshear said during a Friday afternoon Capitol press conference. “Today we’re reporting 426 new cases of COVID-19, which brings our total cases, when you remove duplicates, to 18,670.”
The 426 cases included a lot of young people, according to the governor. “We have a lot of kids under five in this report that have COVID.” They included babies and toddlers.
In addition, Beshear reported there were eight new deaths reported to state public health officials on Friday, which makes Kentucky’s pandemic total to 620.
The new deaths include a 68-year-old man from Clay County; an 88-year-old woman from Fayette County; an 89-year-old woman from Grant County; a 69-year-old man from Russell County; an 81-year-old woman from Shelby County; and two women, ages 78 and 79, and a 61-year-old man from Warren County.
Kentucky’s positivity rate, which is based on a seven-day average, has also been increasing recently.
“Two weeks ago, 2.47 percent of people who were being tested, tested positive,” he stated. “Last week, 2.87 percent, this week 4.5 percent. It shows you what’s happening. We can address this, and we can do it now. Keep your social distance, wash your hands, follow the rules and restrictions at home and at work, reduce your number of contacts and wear a mask.”
Beshear said, “The more people who wear masks, the more leaders who model wearing masks in any region of the state, the more people there are going to be safer, are going to have their economy reopen and be able to stay open, are more likely to be able to get their kids back in school and are less likely to lose people. Those who don’t follow the mask requirements and don’t model this, again, you’re just risking the lives, the economy and the schooling of the people in your community.”
Cabinet for Health and Family Services Secretary Eric Friedlander said the Administration’s plan to limit the number of children at daycare centers is to keep children safe and avoid even more of them testing positive for the coronavirus, as the governor reported on Friday. “In Kentucky, we have already seen 13 centers that have had cases. Twenty children and staff who have the COVID-19 virus.”
Friedlander cited Texas daycares as an example of explosive growth among children. “Yesterday, 17-hundred children and staff were diagnosed as having COVID-19.”
Executive Secretary of the Cabinet J. Michael Brown gave an update on how the state’s prison system has been affected by the coronavirus.
“I’m happy to report on Green River that of the total of 418 cases that have been reported, 417 have recovered,” said Sec. Brown. “Now we turn our attention to the Kentucky Correctional Institution for Women, also known as Pewee Valley. We have had 176 positive tests there, five inmates who are hospitalized right now and two are in the ICU. We are applying the lessons we learned at Green River to KCIW, separating the populations, doing the testing, using all of the sanitary procedures and wearing masks.”
The governor also reminded Kentuckians with outstanding unemployment insurance claims to answer their phones when called by contractor Ernst and Young’s number: 502-333-9130. He said about 50% of calls currently aren’t being answered.
Next week, Beshear said he may hold his next coronavirus press briefing as soon as Monday, depending on what happens with the number of new cases during the next two days. That final determination will be made over the weekend.