LOUISVILLE, Ky. (LEX 18) — Faced with rising case numbers and deaths, Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear announced that he will introduce new steps to slow the spread of the coronavirus. He noted that these new actions would be more targeted than the lockdown measures enacted in March.
“It’s time to take control of the beast,” said Beshear, a Democrat. “Action has to be taken otherwise we’re going to be dealing with a number of cases that can and will ultimately overwhelm the staffing we have for people to get the help they need.”
Beshear declared that Tuesday was the deadliest day for the Bluegrass state since the pandemic began, with a record of 33 virus-related deaths reported. Kentucky also recorded an additional 2,931 confirmed coronavirus cases Tuesday. Some 325 school-aged children have tested positive.
When asked about the 24-hour wait to announce these actions, the governor insisted he needed the extra day to speak with a number of groups as well as the state’s legislative leaders.
Currently, the state is using a color-code system, among other emergency guidelines such as a statewide mask mandate. Recommended COVID guidelines correspond to the level of spread in each state. As of Tuesday, the majority of Kentucky’s counties are categorized as “red.”
People in red zone counties are asked to follow stricter recommended guidelines to contain the virus. Schools are urged to hold only virtual classes because of high coronavirus transmission rates in their communities, and residents are encouraged to avoid hosting or attending gatherings of any size.
Kentucky’s test positivity rate is 9.1%, up roughly two percentage points from last week. The test positivity rate is an indicator of the extent of the spread of the virus, according to the World Health Organization. If the rate is less than 5% for two weeks and testing is widespread, the virus is considered under control.
Dr. Steven Stack, the commissioner of the Kentucky Department of Public Health, asserted that the “current level of disease” has overwhelmed that state’s ability to contact trace. He pressed residents to follow health guidelines because Kentuckians are more likely to have pre-existing conditions that could lead to an adverse reaction to the virus.
“Kentucky, in most public health measures, doesn’t perform very well, unfortunately,” Stack said. “Unfortunately, we have higher rates of tobacco use substance use disorder, obesity, overweight, diabetes, uncontrolled hypertension, cancers.”
For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms that clear up within weeks. But for others, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, the virus can cause severe symptoms and be fatal. The vast majority of people recover.