Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear said Tuesday’s high new case number could put the state “on pace to have even more cases than last week, where we set a record.”
He reported 1,018 new cases of COVID-19 during his Tuesday news briefing. That’s the second-highest single-day total since the first case of coronavirus was reported in Kentucky on March 6, he said. Of those additional cases, 157 were in kids 18 and under. The state has now had a total of 67,856 cases.
Beshear also said eight more Kentuckians have died from the virus.
“And when we have 1,018 cases, [it] means we’re going to lose more people moving forward,” the governor said.
Beshear reported a positivity rate of 4.24%, which he said indicates that the state is testing lots of people. But the case numbers are still trending in the wrong direction, and Tuesday’s numbers, he said, “ought to be a wake up call.”
“We can’t let this thing get out of control again because maybe we’re tired. We know the steps that it takes,” he said, adding that he’s prepared to bring back the daily rundown of measures to help curtail the spread of the virus.
Dr. Steven Stack, Kentucky’s commissioner for public health, also stressed the need for Kentuckians to follow safety guidance, especially as schools are returning to in-person learning.
“We have to take this seriously folks,” Stack said. “It’s about to get colder. People are going to go indoors more [and] the disease is still out there. Every place on the planet, where people have gotten lazy and lax about following the things we recommend has seen a surge in disease. Every place.”
He unveiled modifications to the state’s in-person learning guidance for schools, a color-coded system that lays out recommendations for how schools should proceed when community spread in high in their area.
“So the whole community can come together to do what needs to be done to improve the situation,” Stack said. “The one change we made today is that if your county goes to red, you no longer have to go all the way back down to yellow to consider resuming in-person instruction.”
Beshear said the state is expecting to receive rapid-result testing kits from the federal government, a “portion based on our population,” between now and the end of the year.
On Monday, the White House announced it would send out 150 million of these kits, made by Abbott Laboratories, with test result turnaround times of about 15 minutes.
Beshear said they’re discussing how to best use them.
“We are working on our plan to deploy them in places that make sense,” he said. “There are advantages based on speed. There are some disadvantages to them. And there’s not an unlimited amount of these tests.”
As the New York Times reported, some experts have said that 150 million of these tests is simply too few and these tests have been approved for use only in people showing COVID-19 symptoms.
“We don’t know anything about these tests’ efficacy in asymptomatic patients,” Dr. Krutika Kuppalli, an infectious disease physician at the Medical University of South Carolina, told the New York Times.
Breonna Taylor Case
The governor said he thinks it’s good that state Attorney General Daniel Cameron will release recordings from the grand jury that considered charges against the Louisville Metro Police officers who shot and killed Breonna Taylor in March. That news came after a grand juror filed a lawsuit Monday, requesting the release of transcripts and recordings from the grand jury proceedings.
“I believe that the public has a right to see and to question and to get responses,” Beshear said. “That’s a part of being transparent in government… I think the evidence in the case should be released. I think it ought to be posted online. So that everybody can easily see it.”
Responding to a question from a reporter, he said he didn’t feel the need to activate Kentucky State Police or the National Guard as the drip of information comes out from the Taylor case.
“I think what we’re going to see is people reviewing it and then asking questions,” he said, adding that he felt this past week’s protests were largely non-violent with a few individuals acting opportunistic.
During a briefing Tuesday morning, Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer said the investigative file on Taylor’s death from LMPD’s Public Integrity Unit is in the “process of redaction right now to remove any confidential personal information before it’s released to the public.”
According to a press release from the mayor’s office that went out Tuesday evening, “because the file is voluminous — hundreds of gigabytes of data, digital files and documents — we do not expect to release it until next week.”
The release also said Fischer issued an executive order to “loosen downtown traffic restrictions,” reinstating access to parking garages and a number of downtown roadways.