FRANKFORT, Ky. (FOX19) - Kentucky has entered its third ‘escalation phase’ in COVID-19 cases since the beginning of the pandemic, Gov. Andy Beshear said Monday.
Cases in Kentucky plateaued after a midsummer escalation but have not since declined. Some 3,772 cases were reported the week ending July 20. That compares to 6,126 cases reported the week ending Oct. 4.
The state has now set records for 7-day case totals each of the last two weeks.
“If current trends continue, it will be a difficult fall and a difficult winter,” Beshear said. “But I believe that we have the opportunity to improve our situation, and one of the big ways we do that is wearing a mask.”
Later he added: “Wearing a mask is inconvenient at most. Are we willing to accept inconvenience to protect life? To protect our economy? To get our kids back in school? That is our choice.”
The governor warned continued case increases will inevitably result in more restrictions.
“If we can’t stop this escalation in the next couple weeks (...) then the White House is going to recommend changes in capacity for various businesses,” Beshear said.
Kentucky’s schools will return to virtual learning automatically, he explained, as school districts are following Kentucky’s incident rate map to determine learning models.
“We’re going to be in a position where we don’t want to be if we don’t step up and get the numbers down," Beshear said.
Kentucky Public Health Commissioner, MD, Steven Stack, provided his most searing criticism to date of the U.S. response to COVID-19 compared to other countries, calling it “humiliating" and a “failure.”
The commissioner also responded to the case increases Kentucky is currently experiencing.
“This is scary, because the numbers can get a lot bigger when they’re this high,” Stack said, referencing the dangers of exponential growth. “This is what happened in New York, this is what happened in Florida, this is what happened in Texas.”
Kentucky added 542 newly confirmed COVID-19 cases Monday, a high number so early in the week, when reporting is usually low coming out of the weekend. Find Kentucky’s full Monday case report here.
Five new deaths were reported Monday as well.
The positivity rate is 4.69 percent.
Two Northern Kentucky counties, Boone and Grant, are now ‘orange’ in Kentucky’s incident rate map, indicating between 10 and 25 daily new cases per 100,000 residents over the past 7 days. Boone County incident rate stands at 10.8 and Grant County’s stands at 10.3.