FRANKFORT, Ky. — Kentucky reported 647 cases of the coronavirus Monday, the most the state has reported on a Monday since the pandemic started.
“We continue to see rising cases but that just means we’ve got to come together to do what it takes to defeat this virus,” Gov. Andy Beshear said.
Monday is typically a day when reporting numbers are low because of a lack of testing and reporting over the weekend, Beshear said, but the high number for Monday follows a week where Kentucky nearly set a record for the most coronavirus cases in a week.
7,315 new cases were reported last week, the second-highest number of cases Kentucky has reported since the pandemic started. The record was set a week prior when the state reported 7,675 cases from Oct. 5-11, although numbers from that week were inflated by a backlog of more than 2,000 cases from Fayette County included in one of the daily reports.
Without that backlog, last week would have been the worst week for coronavirus cases in Kentucky ever. Even if you account for the reporting error and remove the older cases, the last four weeks have still been the worst in terms of weekly case numbers.
“Now we are in a third escalation,” Beshear said. “My concern about this one is it’s not just regional, it is all over the country and it is moving into the fall and into the winter.”
Nine deaths were included in Monday’s report and the state’s seven-day positivity rate is 4.97 percent.
Kentuckians in the hospital with COVID-19 and taking up ICU beds have also increased in recent weeks: 190 people are in the ICU and 764 are hospitalized as of Monday’s report. Beshear said 65.8 percent of hospital beds are currently filled and 71 percent of ICU beds are occupied.
Beshear said he isn’t considering any new restrictions with the continued rise in new cases, but a lot needs to happen before he eases up on the current guidelines, too.
“If we’re in a significant escalation of cases, and we are, and we are escalating in hospitalizations and we are escalating in people in the ICUs and we believe we are seeing more deaths, that’s not the time where you increase capacity or you lessen restrictions,” Beshear said. “Now it doesn’t mean we have to get to a vaccine before we could increase capacity at restaurants or bars, we just have to do better.”
Beshear said the state’s field hospital at the Kentucky State Fairgrounds in Louisville is in the process of being disassembled but it can be reassembled within a week or two if needed.
The governor delivered his coronavirus update virtually Monday and plans to do so for the rest of the week. A member of the governor’s security team tested positive for the coronavirus Oct. 10. Beshear says he and his family have tested negative twice since then.
Kentucky COVID-19 Vaccination Plan
Dr. Steven Stack, Kentucky’s public health commissioner, unveiled a draft COVID-19 vaccination plan the state has submitted to federal regulators.
The plan details four phases of how a COVID-19 vaccine would be distributed, starting with healthcare workers and first responders, then adults in high-risk groups.
Stack said the earliest a vaccine would be distributed is the middle of December, but most people will likely wait until at least the middle of winter, possibly even into the summer, depending on how vaccine trials progress.
The full draft can be found here.
COVID-19 Utility Relief
The state will allow public utilities like an electricity provider disconnect service due to nonpayment starting Nov. 6.
The move follows the Kentucky Public Service Commission’s move to end its moratorium on disconnections for nonpayment for certain utilities Tuesday.
Disconnections had been suspended since the early stages of the pandemic. The state will continue to waive late fees on utility bills for residential customers through the end of the year.
Beshear also announced the establishment of a $15 million Healthy at Home Utility Relief Fund to help people pay their utility bills, funded using money from the federal CARES Act. People can apply for help through Community Action of Kentucky. More offices that assist can be found here.