FRANKFORT, Ky. (FOX19) - Gov. Andy Beshear hinted Monday at “additional steps” he could announce this week if Kentucky’s COVID-19 case data does not begin to improve.
The news comes on a day Kentucky reported 1,514 newly confirmed cases and three new deaths. The case count is the second-largest Monday case increase of the pandemic. The virus’s growth curve suggests it is now growing at an exponential rate in Kentucky, Beshear said.
Some 1,442 Kentuckians with COVID-19 are hospitalized as of Monday, while 360 are in ICUs statewide and 128 are on ventilators.
The state’s positivity rate stands at 8.98 percent, the highest since Kentucky started mass testing in late March.
As to the new actions, Beshear said they could come as early as Wednesday.
“Anything we announce will be targeted,” he said. “But we can’t continue at the growth that we are right now.”
Beshear added the new actions will not look like what the state imposed in March and April, referring to the statewide shutdowns and stay-at-home orders of the pandemic’s initial months.
He also suggested they could be county-specific rather than statewide, though the difference grows increasingly immaterial as more of Kentucky’s counties (now 100 of 120) fall into the ‘red zone’ on Kentucky’s incident rate map.
Asked why he would wait until Wednesday rather than unveiling the new actions immediately, the governor noted he is taking the extra days to reach out to stakeholder groups and “make sure we are communicating how we need to(...)”
Such an extended runway points again to the careful balance sought by policymakers as they impose the most sufficiently effective measures that people will actually tolerate.
Monday’s announcement marks the first time Beshear has publicly contemplated further statewide or county-specific orders to slow the virus since his administration put out its ‘red zone’ recommendations last month.
The ‘red zone’ recommendations are not mandates. They amount to a series of suggestions for ‘red’ counties, i.e., counties with an average daily incident rate above 25 confirmed cases per 100,000 residents.
As well as school guidance issued in September, among which is a recommendation districts go fully remote, the ‘red zone’ recommendations have been Beshear’s answer to Kentucky’s recent surge in COVID-19 cases. Asked about additional measures, he’s previously demurred, instead putting faith in the recommendations and urging compliance. He continued to hammer that message Monday.
He has also said, however, that the effectiveness of the recommendations could not be evaluated until around three weeks after the first ‘red zone' counties chose to implement them. Monday marks that very day, hence the “additional steps” Beshear teased in his press briefing could be an acknowledgment the recommendations are insufficient, optional as they are.
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