FRANKFORT, Ky. — Gov. Andy Beshear announced Wednesday that 1,013 Kentuckians have now died due to COVID-19 since the pandemic began in March.
"Over 1,000 Kentuckians are no longer with us because of a virus that had its first case in Kentucky just six months ago," the governor said. "Compared to most other states, that number of casualties is fairly low, and that is a testament to the people of Kentucky and the actions that they've taken."
Kentucky has seen at least 53,977 total cases of COVID-19, 667 of which were new on Wednesday. The state's seven-day positivity rate dropped to 3.84% by Wednesday.
"This is exactly why we were asking for more time before taking steps like in-person classes in school -- remember we were almost at 6% -- to push it down and to try to keep it down," Beshear said during his Wednesday briefing.
Flags in Kentucky have been ordered to fly at half-staff Thursday, and the Kentucky State Police Honor Guard will lay a wreath inside the capitol rotunda Thursday morning in memory those who have died.
Kentucky set a record for the number of positive coronavirus cases for the second straight week, as Beshear announced 4,742 confirmed cases for the week ending on Sunday topped a record 4,503 cases from the previous week.
Kentucky has administered more than 937,153 coronavirus tests so far, roughly 8,000 tests per day since March, and more than 10,648 people who had the virus have reportedly recovered.
More virus numbers, cases in schools
NKY Health reported that 3,962 people across Boone, Kenton, Campbell and Grant counties have tested positive for COVID-19, and 91 people have reportedly died of the virus. The health department reports 809 active cases and 3,062 people who have recovered from coronavirus as of Monday.
In Northern Kentucky schools on Wednesday, Beechwood Elementary School (Beechwood Independent Schools) reported a new active case of COVID-19 to the state. Campbell Ridge Elementary School (Campbell Co. Schools) reported one staffer tested positive for COVID-19, and Ft. Wright Elementary School (Kenton Co. Schools) also reported one staff case as of Wednesday's report.
There are now four total active cases out of Diocese of Covington schools, including two students at Covington Catholic, one case at St. Paul Catholic School and one at St. Mary Catholic School.
Lindeman Elementary School, part of the Erlanger-Elsmere Independent School District, reported one COVID-19 case in a staff member Wednesday. Bracken County High School has also reported one active case in staff.
Northern Kentucky University reports four active COVID-19 cases in students as of the most recent report on Wednesday. The university has not reported any staff cases of COVID-19.
NKY counties still in COVID-19 'yellow zone'
Several Northern Kentucky counties, including Boone and Kenton counties, continue to show positivity rates between 5% and 10%, according to the latest White House report on Wednesday.
That keeps them in the White House's "yellow" zone, a step below a "red" zone denoting a 10% or greater positivity rate. Now, 24 counties of Kentucky's 120 counties are currently in the red zone, up from 16.
Beshear has said the Trump administration's rating system may determine future actions in different counties, possibly including another recommended delay for in-person schooling in red counties.
The White House report also advised Kentucky keep its mask mandate, which was renewed for another 30 days on Sept. 4.
New program to assist renters, landlords
On Tuesday, Kentucky launched a $15 million Healthy At Home Eviction Relief Fund, which helps people unable to pay rent due to the pandemic.
Using money sent to Kentucky through the federal CARES Act, Kentucky renters can apply for the rent assistance now.
That $15 million would pay up to 90% of past due rent to eligible Kentucky tenants, and may also pay up to 2 months future rent, Beshear said. Eligible landlords can also apply for direct reimbursement of unpaid rent retroactively through March 1.
Applications opened Tuesday and will close when funds are exhausted. Learn more and apply here.
In an executive order last month, Beshear prohibited landlords from charging late fees, interest or other penalties on renters who can't pay due to the COVID-19 pandemic from March 6 through Dec. 31, 2020.
The order also created additional steps before eviction processes can begin, requiring landlords to meet with nonpaying tenants to work out plans to keep them housed. Kentucky had suspended evictions as the pandemic took hold.
The Team Kentucky Fund, Kentucky Housing Corporation Emergency Solutions Grant and other local funds are also available to help, Beshear said Tuesday.
Where to find free COVID-19 tests
In Northern Kentucky, St. Elizabeth Healthcare and Covington's Gravity Diagnostics now offers free, appointment-only drive-thru testing at 25 Atlantic Ave in Erlanger.
The site, the former Toyota HQ building off Mineola Pike, 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.
Schedule an appointment at those sites online at www.stelizabeth.com/covid-testing.
To find all coronavirus testing locations near you, click here.
Watch a replay of the briefing in the player below: