‘Our job is to stop it,’ Beshear says of coronavirus surge in Kentucky

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FRANKFORT, Ky. (KT) - A record was set on Thursday for new cases of the coronavirus in Kentucky and a near-record COVID-19 related death toll.


A total of 3,649 new cases were reported to state public health officials, the most ever for a single day, said Gov. Andy Beshear during an afternoon press briefing.  “Our top five highest days are all in the last week.  This is exponential growth.  It’s continuing to grow and will continue to grow.  Our job is to stop it, and that’s why we have these new steps in place that start Friday at 5 pm.”


Those steps, most of which run through Sunday, Dec. 13, include:


Restaurants, Bars
– No indoor food or beverage consumption.  Carryout and delivery encouraged as is socially distanced outdoor seating.


Private social gatherings
– Up to eight people from a maximum of two households.


Gyms, fitness centers, pools, other indoor recreation facilities
– 33% capacity limit; group classes, team practices and competitions prohibited; masks must be worn while exercising.


Venues, event spaces and theaters
– Each room will be limited to 25 people. This applies to indoor weddings and funerals, but excludes in-person worship services, for which the Governor will provide recommendations Thursday.


Professional services
– Office-based businesses limited to 33% of employees; all employees who are able to work from home must do so; all businesses that can close to the public must do so.


Schools –
All public and private schools (K-12) to cease in-person instruction:


--Middle and high schools will remain in remote or virtual instruction until at least Jan. 4, 2021.


--Elementary schools may reopen for in-person instruction Dec. 7, if their county is not in the red zone and the school follows all Healthy at School guidance.


Thursday’s new cases, which include 437 young people ages 18 and younger, bring the pandemic total to 148,390.


The 10 counties with the highest number of new cases were Jefferson with 724, Kenton 179, Fayette 178, Boone 165, Warren 115, Hardin 108, Campbell 104, McCracken 90, Lee 69 and Bullitt had 64.


He also announced new steps for churches and other places of worship, which will also be in effect Nov. 20 through Dec. 13, which can be read about in a separate Kentucky Today story.


Beshear said there were 30 new COVID related deaths on Thursday, the second-highest number for a single day, and 78 over the last three days. 


“(A total of) 1,742 Kentuckians have now lost their lives due in part, at least, to COVID-19,” he said.  “It’s hard, what this virus is doing to us.  It’s really hard.  These are people we love and care about.  These are so many people, even those that don’t pass away, that have long-term implications.  There is an enemy out there that is inflicting pain and damage and death on us.  But we’re fighting back.”


The state’s positivity rate has also risen and stands at 9.18%.


Gov. Beshear announced United Parcel Service, or UPS, one of the state’s larger employers, is stepping up to help Kentuckians whose livelihoods have been hurt by COVID-19.  In particular, UPS aims to help restaurant and bar workers who have recently lost employment.


“Heading into the holiday season, UPS is planning to hire more than 1,000 people across Kentucky,” he said.  “These jobs include package handlers, warehouse workers and team members to help drivers delivering packages.  These are good wages, and these jobs come at a crucial time for many Kentuckians.  Thank you to UPS for making these opportunities available for our people during such a challenging year.”


Go to upsjobs.com and click on your city to see what is available in the area.


To view the fill daily report, incidence rate map, testing locations, long term-care and other congregate facilities update, school reports, red zone counties and recommendations, the White House Coronavirus Task Force reports for Kentucky and other key guidance go to  kycovid19.ky.gov.


Gov. Beshear will hold his next scheduled virtual press briefing Monday afternoon at 4.

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