Governor guarantees new actions as Kentucky deals with exponential case growth

Gov. Beshear reveals projections for Kentucky based on current COVID-19 data

FRANKFORT, Ky. (FOX19) - Kentucky reported 2,931 newly confirmed cases of COVID-19 Tuesday, the highest Tuesday count of the pandemic and the third-highest overall.

The state also reported its highest death count ever with 33 new virus-related deaths Tuesday.

Beshear acknowledged Kentucky’s case fatality rate is lower than what it was in March and April but noted the reasons for that decline, including improved treatments, won’t matter if hospitals get overwhelmed, as New York’s were early on and North Dakota’s are now. (North Dakota’s CFR of 1.05 is nearly double Kentucky’s at present.)

On that point, hospitalizations, ICU admissions and patients on ventilators continue to rise at an “alarming” rate, according to Gov. Andy Beshear.

As of Tuesday, 1,521 Kentuckians are hospitalized, 354 are in ICUs and 178 are on ventilators.

The state’s 9.1 percent positivity rate is its highest since mass testing was available in the spring.

“This is now terrifying,” Kentucky Public Health Commissioner Steven Stack, MD, said of the state’s present, exponential case surge.

The latest report on Kentucky from the Trump Administration’s COVID-19 Task Force’s agrees, citing “aggressive, unrelenting" spread of the virus in Kentucky and around the U.S.

“(...)There is now aggressive, unrelenting, expanding broad community spread across the country, reaching most counties, without evidence of improvement but rather, further deterioration," the report reads. "Current mitigation efforts are inadequate and must be increased to flatten the curve to sustain the health system for both COVID and non-COVID emergencies.

“We share the strong concern of Kentucky leaders that the current situation is worsening and that all Kentuckians need to do their part to stop the spread. The Governor’s active measures are commended.”

Monday Beshear said additional steps could be announced Wednesday if case data does not improve. In Tuesday’s media briefing, Beshear removed any uncertainty on the matter.

“Tomorrow we will be announcing new steps we are going to take in the commonwealth,” he said. “It’s time to get control of this beast, and I refuse to stand by and watch avoidable loss around us.

"We are at war, and there are some that want to stand around and accept fatalities. I am not that kind of governor and I am not that kind of leader.”

Stack noted the necessity of the new measures in the context of the state’s March stay-at-home order (technically ‘Healthy at Home’) and the June mask mandate.

“There has to be a third intervention,” Stack said. “To stand by and not take some sort of action to slow this progression would leave us open to substantial harm that we feel we can prevent.”

Beshear repeated what he said Monday, that the new actions will not be as restrictive as the state’s stay-at-home order.

They will affect bars and restaurants but will not include a general curfew like what Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine announced Tuesday, Beshear said.

Other than that, the governor remained mum on details, seemingly hoping for a smooth rollout and a soft landing following two days of rhetorical prep work.

“Anything we announce will be targeted,” the governor said Monday. “But we can’t continue at the growth that we are right now.”

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