FRANKFORT, Ky. (FOX19) - Kenton and Campbell counties are labeled ‘red’ in the Kentucky Department of Public Health’s Thursday COVID-19 incident-rate map, meaning residents, businesses, governments and schools in those counties will be urged to implement recommendations intended to slow the spread of the virus.
The incident-rate map places counties into one of four groups: ‘green,’ ‘yellow,’ ‘orange’ and ‘red.’ The groups represent average daily COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents. ‘Red’ counties have more than 25 cases per 100,000 residents.
Kenton County reports 26.7 newly confirmed cases of COVID-19 per 100,000 residents on average over the last seven days, Campbell County reports 27.5.
Grant County barely missed the cut at 24.5. Boone County reports 20.9.
Sixty-eight counties are currently ‘red,’ more than half of the commonwealth’s 120 total counties.
“This is a type of outbreak where we can’t deny our way out of it, we can’t rationalize our way out of it, we can’t try to find excuses for not following the guidance,” Gov. Andy Beshear said.
School districts in 'red’ counties are advised to go fully virtual, per guidance issued last month.
Residents, businesses and governments in 'red’ counties are urged to follow a series of new recommendations announced earlier this week. The target date for implementing the guidelines is the Monday following the Thursday map release. According to Beshear, the recommendations should last until the Sunday of the following week, though if a county continues to be ‘red’ the recommendations will continue.
On the question of compliance, Beshear says he’s spoken with mayors, county judges and school district superintendents about how the guidance and recommendations can be implemented.
“I think the response has been really positive,” he said.
The governor’s new recommendations for ‘red’ counties are as follows (bold in the original:)
- Employers allow employees to work from home when possible;
- Non-critical Government offices to operate virtually;
- Reduce in-person shopping; order online or curbside pickup;
- Order takeout; avoid dining in restaurants or bars;
- Prioritize businesses that follow and enforce mask mandate and other guidelines;
- Reschedule, postpone or cancel public and private events
- Do not host or attend gatherings of any size;
- Avoid non-essential activities outside of your home;
- Reduce overall activity and contacts, and follow existing guidance, including 10 steps to defeat COVID-19.
Previously Beshear argued the new recommendations strike the balance between what the public will tolerate and what is needed to slow the wildfire-like spread of COVID-19 in the commonwealth.
“We believe this is the most surgical way to reduce widespread community transmission in our specific locality,” Beshear said Tuesday, later adding the recommendations provide “a level of coordination where we feel the impact can be fairly immediate and fairly significant.”
He continued: “If you’re in a red county, anything you don’t need to do, don’t. Stay home as much as possible. Schools shouldn’t be the only ones that are taking these steps. When you coordinate these two responses, the schools and the community together, we can get the best result.”
That doesn’t mean it isn’t frustrating to some Northern Kentucky businesses, including Mark Ramler’s Jerry’s Jug House in Newport.
Ramler says his business has already been doing to-go drinks and outdoor seating. He says they will likely add a temperature check at the door.
“We’ll step it up even more than we already have,” Ramler said, “What that entails, we’ll have to put our heads together and figure it out.”
Ramler hopes the county moves out of the ‘red’ before winter when things are often slower.
“So already we’re going to be hurting, and this is going to prolong that, I think,” he said.
Jessica Dykes is with the Kenton County School District. She says her primary concern is safety.
“We are going to randomly test 10 percent from each school,” Dykes revealed, adding the school board approved the plan last week and that testing will begin Monday.
“We wanted to have a plan in place for when and if we hit this critical phase, which we have, and we’re going to follow the guidelines."
Thursday Kentucky reported 1,821 newly confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 19 virus-related deaths. The state’s positivity rate stands at 6.04 percent.
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