FRANKFORT, Ky. — Gov. Andy Beshear reported 1,745 new cases of COVID-19 Monday, the highest Monday count on record and the 11th-highest count since the pandemic began. That count includes 197 cases in children 18 or younger. The governor also reported 15 virus-related deaths on Monday.
After a week that saw a record 12,196 new COVID-19 cases in Kentucky and surges across the country, Beshear expressed concern that hospital systems here may be overwhelmed if surges continue. Hospitalizations have steadily increased, with 1,133 Kentuckians currently hospitalized for COVID-19, with a record-breaking 300 people in intensive care units and 142 on ventilators Monday.
"If everywhere is surging, we're going to end up on our own in taking care of individuals in this state," he said. "That means if we get overrun, if we don't have enough staff in hospitals -- guess what -- it's our neighbors, our friends, maybe even our family that won't get the full treatment that they need, and that oughta make all of us committed to doing everything we can to lower the number of cases."
Kentucky has now seen at least 122,567 total cases of COVID-19 and a total of 1,576 deaths since the pandemic began.
The state's seven-day positivity rate rose again to 7.49% on Monday, the highest rate since May 5. Beshear said the jump in the state's positivity rate is not a result of more testing, but indicates that more people who are tested are testing positive for the virus.
Eighty-one counties have moved into the "red" on Kentucky's COVID-19 incidence rate map, indicating "critical" spread in those areas.
Across those "red" counties, including Boone, Kenton, Campbell, Grant and Pendleton in Northern Kentucky, the state recommends moving schooling online and asks Kentuckians living there to limit their contacts to stop the spread of COVID-19. Those recommendations are in effect Monday through Friday.
"This thing is already out of control, and this is your best option to get it back in control -- but everybody's got to do their part," Beshear said Monday.
So far, more than 21,513 people who had the virus have reportedly recovered from COVID-19, and the state has now administered more than 2.2 million coronavirus tests since the pandemic began.
NKY Health reported 7,247 people across Boone, Kenton, Campbell and Grant counties have tested positive for COVID-19, and 99 people have reportedly died of the virus. The health department reports 2,404 active cases and 4,744 people who have recovered from coronavirus as of Monday.
Ky. could expect COVID-19 surge amid holiday season
Kentucky Public Health Commissioner Dr. Steven Stack warned Monday that fall and winter may bring the pandemic's worst phase yet, calling upcoming traditional holiday gatherings "a recipe for a disaster" in terms of spreading COVID-19.
"If we put, like I do with my own family and extended relatives, you put 50 people in a small space with food in front of them, take off your masks, laugh and drink and socialize and sing and do all those things -- that is exactly how coronavirus will spread like wildfire," Stack said.
Beshear said state health officials will soon release guidance soon on how to celebrate Thanksgiving safely amid the pandemic.
"This Thanksgiving, do it with your close family. Reduce the size by a lot. Be very careful about having Thanksgiving with multiple separated generations and those that are most at risk. Please protect them," Beshear said.
But Stack also expressed some optimism as news broke of a Pfizer two-shot COVID-19 vaccine candidate that the company says has shown 90% effectiveness. Stack said it would take until the end of 2021 for a vaccine to be made widely available, as Kentucky waits with a draft plan based on CDC guidance to deploy such a vaccine.
“I do think there’s reason for optimism, but we’ve gotta first get through where we are at present,” Stack said.
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: