New Kentucky travel advisory targets 9 states after unprecedented case report

Gov. Beshear provides Monday update on COVID-19 in Kentucky

FRANKFORT, Ky. (FOX19) - Gov. Andy Beshear announced two new measures Monday intended to slow the spread of COVID-19 in the state after 979 newly confirmed cases were reported Sunday, an “alarming” tally that represents the state’s highest single-day total.

“Sunday was a warning shot, a shot across the bow,” Kentucky Health Commissioner Steven Stack, MD, said. “Where we go from here is in each one of our hands.”

Seven of Kentucky’s highest case reports have occurred in the last eight days, Stack added.

A travel advisory announced Monday targets the state’s most significant cause of case clusters, namely Kentuckians returning from vacations in virus “hot spots” like South Carolina and Florida.

The advisory asks those who travel to states with a 15-percent positivity rate or greater to self-quarantine for 14 days upon returning. The positivity rate is drawn from data presented by Johns Hopkins University, according to Stack.

Stack encouraged Kentuckians to avoid travel to the listed states altogether.

The states are as follows, with their respective positivity rates:

  • Alabama: 18.3 percent
  • Arizona: 23.56 percent
  • Florida: 18.72 percent
  • Georgia: 15.24 percent
  • Idaho: 18.15 percent
  • Nevada: 19.14 percent
  • South Carolina: 15.71 percent
  • Texas: 15.10 percent
  • Mississippi: 14.82 percent

“These are absolute hot spots that right now are just dangerous, seriously and significantly impacting our numbers,” Beshear said, adding the 15-percent mark is not a low bar but a “really scary” place to be, a “red flashing light.”

Stack likened traveling to those states to “going to a nuclear waste zone in terms of how intense the infection is spreading.”

Another significant cause of case cluster are what Stack described as large, “informal” gatherings of family and friends in backyard and block-party-like settings where “we are most likely to let our guard down” with a hug, back pat or nudge or by speaking closely.

The Cabinet for Health and Family Services Guidance order, also announced Monday, calls them “social, non-commercial mass gatherings.” The order effectively reimposes the state’s ban of more than 10 persons at these types of gatherings.

Gatherings in event venues, restaurants, retails stores, public venues and other businesses affected by one of Kentucky’s Healthy At Work reopening guidances are not included in the order. Beshear said he would rely on those business-owners to create safe environments for their customers.

Monday the governor reported 258 new cases of the virus and one new death. Three new deaths were reported Sunday.

Of the state’s 671 deaths, 443 have occurred in long-term care facilities.

Kentucky’s 7-day rolling positivity rate stands at 4.52 percent. Beshear explained that rate is rising and used it to argue against what he described as social media “disinformation” that cases are up simply because testing is up.

“That is categorically false,” he said. “The virus is spreading signficantly, and we must make sure we take the steps to keep each other safe.”

Some 542 Kentuckians are hospitalized with the virus and 114 are in the ICU, numbers that represent increases from recent weeks, the governor added.

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