FRANKFORT, Ky. (FOX19) - Gov. Andy Beshear announced 785 newly reported cases of COVID-19 in Kentucky Thursday.
That number come one day after the governor reported Kentucky’s highest-ever daily count of new cases with 1,163 announced Wednesday.
Kentucky Health Commissioner Steven Stack, MD, added Kentucky’s “disease burden” — that is, the presence of the virus in the commonwealth — is currently at its highest point since the beginning of the pandemic.
Nevertheless, the governor said Thursday he believes the virus has once again plateaued in Kentucky after an exponential growth phase that lasted through July and the beginning of August.
Six new COVID-19-related deaths were reported Thursday as well, bringing Kentucky’s total death count to 796, of which 496 have occurred in extended-care facilities.
Kentucky’s clinical fatality rate continues to inch down to around 2 percent, a trend Stack predicted last month when he said it could eventually bottom out near 1 percent. (Clinical fatality rate only measures deaths as a percent of confirmed cases; the fatality rate as a percent of all cases, including asymptomatic cases, is some degree lower.)
The state’s positivity rate, based on a 7-day rolling average, remained stable at 5.67 percent. The rate topped 6 percent in the beginning of August but has begun to come down again. It remains well above the lows of June and July, when the rate fell below 4 percent.
The Kentucky Education Association set 4 percent rate as a benchmark for a return to in-person classes when it announced its preference for remote learning last week.
Beshear recommended Monday school districts across Kentucky delay the start of in-person learning until Sept. 28.
Several Northern Kentucky school districts have altered their return plans to comply; others have not.
Stack presented data from other states, especially Georgia, seeming to demonstrate “rushed” reopenings, including a return to in-person classes, has led to case and death surges generally.
Beshear added the risk to children of the virus is not well known, even if at present it appears to be minimal. He also doubled-down on Stack’s argument, that students can spread the virus in the community — to teachers, parents, grandparents, caregivers and beyond.
“Kids can, and do, spread this virus,” he said.
Additionally, looking at school districts in other states that reopened only to shut down again due to massive quarantines, Beshear said that’s not a good result.
“I want our kids to be in school, but I am not going to experiment with our kids,” he said. “Even if a parent says they are willing, I’m not going to stand up and make a recommendation that puts our kids in harm’s way and sets our schools up for failure.”
Later the governor continued: “I’m not saying some of these districts don’t have good plans, but your plans will only work if the conditions on the ground allow it.”
Right now, the governor implied, they do not, but he remained hopeful Thursday that signs in Kentucky’s data are pointing in the right direction.