FRANKFORT, Ky. — In the wake of a recent surge in coronavirus cases in Kentucky, Gov. Andy Beshear said Monday he would announce "additional steps" later this week designed to limit the spread of the virus.
Though he did not offer specifics, Beshear said those next steps will not mirror "shutdown" restrictions seen in March and April, when COVID-19 testing was not widely available to Kentuckians who were not showing virus symptoms and when state hospitals lacked sufficient personal protective equipment.
"If we have to take additional steps, they are going to be more targeted to ensure that we are getting the best possible results that will come out of it," the governor said.
Beshear said he would be joined Tuesday by Kentucky Public Health Commissioner Dr. Steven Stack with an update on the future of Kentucky's coronavirus response, adding that if COVID-19 rates continue to increase, he will announce those "additional steps" on Wednesday.
“None of that would be necessary if people would wear their masks, if our establishments would go back to enforcing many of those mandates and if people would just do the right thing, to care about those around them -- and we have a lot of people doing that right now. We just need more," Beshear said.
COVID-19 in Kentucky
Beshear reported 1,514 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday, including 173 cases in children under 18. It's the second-highest number of cases ever reported on a Monday, which typically see fewer cases with most labs closed on weekends. The governor also reported three coronavirus-related deaths.
Kentucky just finished another record-high week for COVID-19 cases, with more than 18,000 new cases of COVID-19 reported between Nov. 8 to Nov. 15. The state's COVID-19 positivity rate rose to 8.98% Monday, the highest rate since Kentucky made testing widely available.
With news Monday of another potential coronavirus vaccine from Moderna, which the company says has shown 94.5% effectiveness, Beshear said Kentucky could hope to see a widely-available vaccine as early as spring 2021.
“If we can see the finish line, the question is: are we gonna try our hardest to make sure we lose as few people as possible before we get there, or are we just going to be casual about it?” Beshear said.
Beshear also renewed his call for Kentuckians living in "red zone" counties to follow recommendations to curb the spread of COVID-19. In Northern Kentucky, that includes Boone, Kenton, Campbell, Grant, Bracken, Gallatin and Pendleton counties.
"Today, we have 103 out of our 120 counties that are in that red zone, where the spread has gotten critical and where the incidence rate shows us that the spread is truly uncontrolled, and that our family and individuals are in danger," the governor said.
So far, Kentucky has seen 139,097 total cases of COVID-19 and 1,664 virus-related deaths since the pandemic began. More than 24,568 people who had the virus have reportedly recovered from COVID-19, and the state has now administered more than 2.4 million coronavirus tests since the pandemic began.
Hospitalizations also increased Monday, with 1,442 Kentuckians currently in the hospital for coronavirus, 360 in intensive care units and 128 on ventilators. Beshear said the state's main concern at this point is adequate hospital staffing, not bed capacity.
NKY Health reported 8,399 people across Boone, Kenton, Campbell and Grant counties have tested positive for COVID-19, and 102 people have died of the virus. The health department reports 3,553 active cases and 4,744 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: