Kentucky is expanding its contact tracing capacity, Gov. Andy Beshear announced during his Monday briefing.
“This isn’t just me,” he said. “This is the president too. This is Democrats and Republicans, federal government, state government. This is public health experts saying this is what’s got to happen for us to have a safe reopening, and to restart our economy without pausing it.”
Beshear said they’ll use CARES Act funding, over a seven-month period, to hire and train staff and put together an online tracking system.
“It’s how we identify quickly and prevent one case from becoming 100 cases,” he said.
State officials expect to hire 700 additional people to help with contact tracing, with training beginning this week.
Between contact tracing and testing, Beshear expects to spend more than $100 million of CARES Act money.
He said they are looking into any privacy concerns around this issue, especially since contact tracing “doesn’t work without you buying in, without your voluntary commitment.”
Mark Carter, with the Cabinet for Health & Family Services, underscored that.
“The individual’s role in contact tracing is to be aware that you could be contacted by a member of the public health department in your community or at the state level,” Carter said. “Understand the importance of the process, answer the calls… spread the word that this is a way that we can rebuild our economy and keep people safe and well.”
“Tracing isn’t effective without robust testing,” Beshear added, claiming that the state is at that point now. “We have the ability for everyone who wants to get tested to get tested.”
He also asked people to get retested, and to get tested even if you don’t have symptoms.
“To reduce the spread, we need to find those asymptomatic people,” he said.
In regards to reports that some states are struggling with persuading people to get test, Beshear just said he feels “pretty good about what’s happening” with testing turnout in Kentucky.
The state has administered 145,238 tests.
Two More Minors With COVID-Related Inflammatory Syndrome
The governor said two more kids in the state have gotten a severe, though rare, inflammatory syndrome that shows up after the initial viral infection: a five-year-old who is now recovering at home and an 11-year-old who is in the hospital.
Kentucky’s public health commissioner Dr. Steven Stack said “overwhelmingly, children do well” when infected with coronavirus.
“But not all of them, and for those who get this syndrome, this is very serious,” he said.
Two other minors had been diagnosed with the condition in Kentucky, which includes symptoms like fever, rash, vomiting, and swollen hands and feet that can appear red.
Retail Opens This Week
The governor said that malls can open this week, as retail has been given the green light to reopen starting on Wednesday under the state’s Healthy at Work plan. But malls will have to follow the same stringent requirements, he said, including rigorous cleaning and social distancing measures. The 33% capacity limit will apply to individual stores within the mall, and to the mall itself.
Food courts at malls will have to follow the same guidance for restaurants, which can reopen in Kentucky starting on Friday.
Gatherings of 10 or fewer people will also be allowed as of Friday.
Beshear said 122 new cases were reported on Sunday and 138 on Monday, bringing the state’s total to 7,935. Over the two days, there were 12 new deaths all in Jefferson County.