FRANKFORT, Ky. — Gov. Andy Beshear reported 2,135 new cases on Monday, the highest Monday on record "by a significant amount," as well as five new COVID-19 deaths.
After a record-breaking week of more than 20,000 new COVID-19 cases, Kentucky has reported 160,232 total positive COVID-19 cases and 1,792 total deaths since the pandemic began in March.
“This is exponential spread," the governor said. "It will -- it will, and it is, overwhelming us.”
Hospitalizations have also steadily increased, with 1,573 Kentuckians currently hospitalized for COVID-19, 286 people in intensive care units and 142 on ventilators on Monday. With a higher number of coronavirus patients requiring more care in hospitals and with community spread seen here and nationwide, Beshear warned there may be fewer doctors and support staff available to care for the rising number of patients.
On Friday, extensive new restrictions went into effect across Kentucky, including closing restaurants and bars to indoor dining, limiting capacity at indoor venues, gyms and other businesses. Beshear said Monday that the state is aware of at least four restaurants that are not complying with new state orders on indoor dining, including one which has now lost its food permit but still continues to operate.
"I don't think the story is one restaurant that says the operation of their restaurant is 'America' and 'liberty' and 'rise up' online -- I think it's every other one doing the right thing, trying to protect us, taking caring about their clientele, begging you to do takeout, doing everything they can to make it through," he said.
Kentuckians are also asked to cap home gatherings at eight people from no more than two households. These restrictions are in effect through Dec. 13 at 11:59 p.m., and the governor has not yet said whether they could be extended.
Starting Monday, all K-12 public and private schools were required to move classes online. Public universities also pledged to move instruction online, Beshear said.
Kentucky religious private schools filed a federal lawsuit last week to keep in-person learning, a suit later joined by Attorney General Daniel Cameron. Beshear characterized the decision to suspend in-person instruction as a "last resort" to protect teachers and students while the state's positivity rate and new cases surge.
"We're not treating any school differently -- we are treating them all the same. In other words, we are not discriminating against any form of school, we just know that this is absolutely necessary at the moment," he said.
Public Health Commissioner Dr. Steven Stack said this latest coronavirus surge is a “defining moment” for Kentuckians, and that it is ultimately “the public’s choice how we’re going to respond." He added that full compliance with the state’s mask mandate would likely help to contain the virus enough to lift new restrictions.
“We’re gonna have a dark winter if we don’t pull together,” Stack said. “We want to lift as many of these restrictions as fast as we can as soon as we can feel more confident that it won’t be paid for with large-scale loss of human life and harm to other people who need medical and hospital care who don’t have COVID.”
Additionally, Kentucky health officials have released guidance on celebrating Thanksgiving safely amid the surge in COVID-19 cases, with an emphasis on protecting people who are most vulnerable to coronavirus and related complications.
"I love Thanksgiving, and I know you do, too. Let's make sure that next year we don't look back on Thanksgiving this year, realize we made mistakes and it be hard in our mind and with our family. Who's with us next Thanksgiving depends on how we do this Thanksgiving," the governor said.
More Ky. COVID-19 numbers
Kentucky has administered more than 2.6 million COVID-19 tests since the pandemic began and more than 26,611 people have reportedly recovered from coronavirus.
Kentucky's seven-day COVID-19 positivity rate has dipped to 8.97 % from a record-high 9.18% on Thursday.
All but three Kentucky counties have moved into the "red" on the state's COVID-19 incidence rate map, indicating "critical" spread in those areas of 25 or more cases per 100,000 people.
According to NKY Health, 9,581 people across Boone, Kenton, Campbell and Grant counties have tested positive for COVID-19, and 118 people locally have died of the virus. The health department reports 3,989 active cases and 5,474 people who have recovered from coronavirus as of Monday.
Find free COVID-19 testing in NKY
In Northern Kentucky, St. Elizabeth Healthcare and Covington's Gravity Diagnostics offer free, appointment-only drive-thru testing at 25 Atlantic Ave in Erlanger, the former Toyota HQ building off Mineola Pike.
The site is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. You will be able to collect your own sample without leaving your vehicle and receive results within three to five days.
Additionally, appointment-only drive-up testing is available through St. E at 7200 Alexandria Pike, Alexandria. The free testing site is open on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Watch a replay of the briefing in the player below: