FRANKFORT, Ky. — Gov. Andy Beshear released new recommendations to "combat the surge" of recent COVID-19 cases in counties where the spread is most severe at his regular briefing on Kentucky's coronavirus response Monday.
Those recommendations include reducing in-person shopping and using curbside pickup when possible, avoiding all informal gatherings, ordering take-out from restaurants instead of dining in, employers allowing people to work from home if possible, and operating "non-critical" government offices virtually.
"Now, these are not mandates -- these are recommendations on how each communities can make their communities safer, and the reason they aren't mandates is mandates only work if people follow them, and we know that encouragement will do more than enforcement to get people on board," the governor said Monday.
As of Monday, Bracken County is the only county in Northern Kentucky designated "red," indicating a "critical" spread of 25 cases or more per 100,000 people. You can track Kentucky's incidence rate map here.
For schools in "red" counties, Kentucky has previously recommended switching to virtual learning and canceling extracurricular activities including sports for at least two weeks and until the county returns to "yellow" status.
Adding the record-high 9,335 new cases from last week and 953 cases reported Monday, Kentucky has seen at least 97,866 total cases of COVID-19.
"The scale and speed of the growth of this third escalation is faster than either of the previous two," the governor said. "Last week, we had our single largest week of positive COVID-19 cases and it wasn’t even close -- 20-plus-percent over the next-highest week."
Beshear also reported three new virus-related deaths Monday for a total of 1,410 deaths since the pandemic began. Kentucky's positivity rate rose to 5.84%.
Public Health Commissioner Dr. Steven Stack encouraged Kentuckians to wear masks in public, observe social distancing and limit contact with others in order to lower the rate of COVID-19 in all Kentucky counties.
“If we follow these things and did it for a month to six weeks, we would find most of that map would turn yellow, not be orange or red. And if we follow this guidance and wore these masks, we could get back to more normal life, have kids in school, people at work,” Stack said.
As of Monday, 858 Kentuckians have been hospitalized for COVID-19, with 253 in intensive care units and 112 on ventilators.
So far, more than 17,881 people who had the virus have reportedly recovered from COVID-19, and the state has now administered more than 1.9 million coronavirus tests since the pandemic began. On Monday, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services shipped 595,000 BinaxNOW tests to nursing homes, assisted living facilities and to historically black colleges and universities in Kentucky.
NKY Health reported that 5,769 people across Boone, Kenton, Campbell and Grant counties have tested positive for COVID-19, and 96 people have reportedly died of the virus. The health department reports 1,747 active cases and 3,926 people who have recovered from coronavirus as of Monday.
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: