Sergio Martinez-Beltran | WPLN

Not only will Tennessee now track the cases of COVID-19 in schools across the state, but it is expected to make the information public.

The latest transparency reversal from Gov. Bill Lee’s administration was announced Tuesday.

Lee told reporters the state is working on a plan to make the information public while protecting the privacy of teachers and students. The details, however, are still unclear.

“We will give you a plan within a week of what information it is that we are going to provide, with the intent of being more transparent so that communities know what’s happening in schools with regard to COVID,” Lee said.

Beshear Says To Expect Mask Mandate Extension

Aug 5, 2020
Stephanie Wolf

Gov. Andy Beshear said he will likely extend the statewide mask mandate order that went into effect on July 10 and is set to expire this weekend.

He has credited the face covering requirement for contributing to lower daily counts of positive coronavirus cases in recent days.

On Tuesday, Beshear reported 700 new cases, for a total of at least 32,197 since March. He said there were an addition seven deaths related to COVID-19. Kentucky has now lost 751 people to the disease.

Stephanie Wolf

Gov. Andy Beshear said he believes the mask mandate has put the breaks on the sharp increase in new coronavirus cases seen in July. 

“What the numbers are telling us is that facial coverings and masks are working,” Beshear said during his briefing Monday.

Data provided during the briefing showed the number of new cases jumped up for the first three weeks of July, but slowed after the third week.

Stephanie Wolf

Kentucky has 659 more cases of coronavirus, bringing the state’s total cases to 29,386 cases, Gov. Andy Beshear reported during his Thursday briefing. 

He said while the new-case number is higher than the previous day, the positivity rate had dropped to 5.66% Beshear said he hopes the state is experiencing a “leveling off” after the recent uptick in cases, but that doesn’t mean it’s time to relax. 

“Remember, we as a commonwealth, as a country and as Planet Earth are at war against this one-in-every-hundred-year pandemic, and it means we’ve got to show up every day, do the work, follow the guidelines to protect the health and lives of those around us,” he said.

Earlier this month, when the Trump administration told hospitals to send crucial data about coronavirus cases and intensive care capacity to a new online system, it promised the change would be worth it. The data would be more complete and transparent and an improvement over the old platform run by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, administration officials said.

Instead, the public data hub created under the new system is updated erratically and is rife with inconsistencies and errors, data analysts say.

Blake Farmer | WPLN

It took four months to get halfway to 100,000 coronavirus cases in Tennessee but less than four weeks to get the rest of the way. On Wednesday the state’s Department of Health reported 100,822 total cases, up nearly 1,800 from the day before.

The pace of new cases in Tennessee started surging at the end of June. The state hit 50,000 July 4 and crossed 100,000 July 29.

This month, transmission of the virus has become much more widespread with nearly every county over the acceptable threshold set by the Department of Health. That means Nashville and Memphis no longer account for such an outsized share of the new cases.

Lake Cumberland District Health Department/Facebook

Kentucky is among states nationwide using contact tracing to combat COVID-19. Public health officials hope they can contain the spread of the coronavirus by contacting those who have been around an infected person.

Kentucky is using $78 million in federal CARES Act funds to strengthen its contact tracing efforts.  Through the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, 710 additional contact tracers are being hired to assist county health departments statewide.

Stephanie Wolf

Gov. Andy Beshear reported that Kentucky’s coronavirus test positivity rate has ticked down slightly for the first time in four days on Tuesday, but it’s still too early to tell if the pandemic is slowing in the state.

Beshear announced 532 cases of the virus on Tuesday and said the state had a 5.08% positivity rate—the number of coronavirus tests that come back positive compared to all tests taken.

Beshear said he hoped that his executive order requiring all Kentuckians to wear masks in public is paying off, saying that the timing of his mandate, which began July 9, corresponds with the down-tick in the state’s positivity rate.

John Boyle

Indiana’s statewide mask mandate went into effect Monday, requiring Hoosiers to wear face coverings in a number of social settings.

Gov. Eric Holcomb announced the decision last week to require those over the age of 8 to wear face coverings while inside businesses, public indoor spaces, and outside at public spaces where social distancing cannot be done. Students and employees of schools will also be subject to the mandate.

On the first day of the official order, many people in southern Indiana seemed more than happy to comply while out shopping. Some approached business doors, only to turn back to their vehicle to retrieve a mask, though a few still entered without masks.

Office of Gov. Andy Beshear

Gov. Andy Beshear has ordered Kentucky bars to close and restaurants to go to 25% capacity for two weeks starting Tuesday, Jul. 28 at 5 p.m. to try to curve a rise in cases of COVID-19.

“This is going to hurt a lot of restaurants,” Beshear said Monday. “But the White House’s modeling shows that this is absolutely necessary to control the spread at this time.”

The restrictions do not affect outdoor seating for restaurants.

During his briefing Monday, Beshear said some bar and restaurant-goers have failed to follow guidelines around masks and social distancing. He showed photos of people gathered closely together at Kentucky bars without wearing masks.

Sergio Martinez-Beltran | WPLN

Dr. Deborah Birx told reporters Monday that Tennessee could be in a good position to battle the latest wave of COVID-19.

The White House coronavirus response coordinator said the main way to accomplish this is for Tennesseans to wear masks and the state to shut down its bars.


Birx met with Gov. Bill Lee, Health Commissioner Lisa Piercey and other state leaders to discus her concerns about the latest increase in coronavirus cases across the state.

After the meeting, Birx told reporters she was particularly worried about rural counties.

Steven Lilley; Flickr Creative Commons

Experts say the COVID pandemic is a “perfect storm” for child maltreatment. High unemployment, widespread social isolation, and rising rates of substance abuse are risk factors for child abuse and neglect. 

But reports of suspected child maltreatment in Kentucky have dropped dramatically since March. 

Child welfare advocates think that might be bad news. Due to social distancing policies prompted by the pandemic, children aren’t being seen by as many of the teachers, coaches, nurses, doctors and neighbors who typically notice and report signs of abuse. Some advocates are worried maltreatment could be increasing — and the full extent of the problem might not be known for months or even years.

Ryland Barton

Gov. Andy Beshear says he will announce further steps on Monday to try to slow the spread of coronavirus in Kentucky. Beshear made the statement shortly after a meeting in which a White House coronavirus adviser recommended that the state close bars and reduce restaurant capacity.

In recent days, Beshear has repeatedly warned that he would take action to close bars and reduce crowds at restaurants if the number of COVID-19 in the state continued to rise.

“I will not let us become an Alabama, a Florida or an Arizona. We’ve got to take proactive steps and that’s what we’re trying to do,” Beshear said on Sunday during a press conference.

Kentucky has reported its highest daily numbers of coronavirus cases over the last week—the highest came last Sunday when there were nearly 1,000 new cases and the second highest came on Saturday.

J. Tyler Franklin

Gov. Andy Beshear said Thursday the state will consider closing bars, limiting restaurant capacities and starting schools later if Kentucky can’t get its daily caseload of COVID-19 under control.

Beshear began Thursday’s briefing noting that Kentucky has seen some of the highest daily case numbers since the beginning of the pandemic in March. He announced 611 new cases of COVID-19 and seven deaths.

Kentucky has seen record highs in all but one day this week beginning Sunday when state officials announced 979 cases. The state has not yet begun to see the benefits of the governor’s mask mandate, which went into effect 13 days ago.

Stephanie Wolf

Amid a surge of coronavirus cases in Kentucky and across the nation, Gov. Andy Beshear is recommending that Kentuckians traveling to states with high rates of coronavirus infections quarantine for 14 days once they return.

Beshear also announced a rollback of part of Kentucky’s reopening plan. Social gatherings will once again have to be 10 or fewer people, down from 50 people allowed as of the beginning of July.

The crowd restrictions don’t apply to businesses like restaurants or wedding venues which are regulated by the state’s reopening plan.

Saying the fight against coronavirus “is going to be a lot longer than we hoped,” Beshear said Kentucky still wasn’t at the point where he thinks the state needs to further reduce restaurant capacity or close bars.