FRANKFORT, Ky. (KT) - More restrictions could be announced Wednesday as Kentucky saw the second highest number of new cases of COVID-19 for a Monday, Gov. Andy Beshear announced during a virtual Capitol press briefing.
There were 1,514 new confirmed cases were reported to state public health officials, even though Monday is usually the lowest day of the week since many labs are closed over the weekend. That means the pandemic total has now reached 139,097 in Kentucky.
The 10 counties with the most new cases were Jefferson with 268, Fayette 190, Kenton 65, Hardin 54, Boone 49, Campbell 46, Madison 45, Graves 44, Powell 39 and Bullitt with 29.
Beshear noted that 173 of the newly reported cases include 173 ages 8 and younger, and that 103 of Kentucky’s 120 counties were in the red zone as of Monday, which is the designation for those that have 25 or more cases per 100,000 population.
The number of Kentuckians hospitalized also continued to rise from the weekend. Of the 1,442 hospitalized, 360 are in the ICU and 128 are on ventilators.
Three more deaths were reported on Monday, bringing the number of Kentuckians who have lost their lives to the corona virus to 1,664. They include a 66-year-old woman from Graves County; a 63-year-old woman from Henderson County; and an 83-year-old woman from Jefferson County.
Because of the higher numbers, Beshear said, “On Wednesday, if we don’t see a change in the numbers over the first couple of days this week, we’ll talk about some additional steps that we may have to take, or by that point, we will have to take, to try and get this virus back under control.”
If that is required, it would not look like restrictions back in March and April, according to the Governor.
“At that time, we did not have enough testing; we had almost no PPE to protect those in hospitals; we didn’t know the most effective ways to treat this virus so the mortality rate was through the roof; and we didn’t know as much about the spread,” Beshear stated. “If we have to take additional steps, they will be more targeted.”
He added bars and restaurant capacities could be affected.
Cabinet for Health and Family Services Secretary Eric Friedlander said because of the community spread, they are seeing more outbreaks in long-term care facilities, such as nursing homes. “At the end of October, we had about 15 facilities with at least 15 cases. As of now, we are up to 38 of those facilities.”
As a result, Friedlander said they are going to severely restrict holiday visitation. “If someone leaves a facility, when they return, we are going to ask them to quarantine. And we are asking you to please think about sacrificing getting together for the holidays, so we’re not sacrificing our parents and our grandparents.”
The secretary said in addition to public health strike teams to aid overwhelmed long=term care workers, they are going to partner with the Kentucky National Guard for non-clinical support, such as infection control, transportation, and cleaning and disinfecting facilities.
Secretary of the Executive Cabinet J. Michael Brown gave an update on COVID-19 in the state’s correctional facilities. Unfortunately, there has been a sizable outbreak at Lee Adjustment Center, where there are 29 active staff cases and 434 active inmate cases.
“The news from the corrections front is not good. We’ve seen an increase week over week of 514 inmate cases and 52 staff cases. That brings our total for the year to over 2,000 inmate cases and over 280 staff cases,” said Brown. “Our fear, frankly, is that we haven’t completely finished testing the facility and we already know that half of the inmates have tested positive for COVID-19. It’s alarming. We wanted to bring this to everyone’s attention to show that sometimes in spite of our best efforts, this virus continues to strike us.”
But there was also some good news as two drugmakers, Moderna and Pfizer, have announced their vaccines appear to be more than 90% effective, as clinical trials continue. The Governor said he hopes this great news will inspire all Kentuckians to keep fighting the virus in the months before those vaccines become widely available.
“With this news, we need everybody to buckle down, to make sure you are making good decisions each and every day because people’s lives depend on it,” Beshear said. “If we can just get to the point where this vaccine will be widely available, we can make sure we don’t lose people. We need your help. This is now a time-limited virus. So, if you’re tired, now you can see the end. Let’s get our second wind.”