FRANKFORT, Ky. — Gov. Andy Beshear announced 775 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, including 130 new cases in children under 18. Beshear reported eight new virus-related deaths in Kentucky on Thursday for a total of 45,978 statewide cases and 910 deaths since the pandemic began.
Kentucky's virus positivity rate sat at 4.8% on Thursday, and Beshear said the state's positivity rate has hovered around 5.8% since early this month.
"This is one positive sign that's out there, but it can't be the sign we're looking for. It has to be a work in progress, to get it down below 4.6%, below 4%," he said.
More than 9,731 people have recovered from the virus, and though case numbers have plateaued, total cases continue to rise, Beshear said.
The state has administered more than 848,937 coronavirus tests so far. Kentucky's travel advisory, which at one point advised Kentuckians not to travel to more than a dozen states, has been reduced to five: Idaho, Mississippi, Nevada, South Carolina and Texas.
NKY Health reports that 3,657 people across Boone, Kenton, Campbell and Grant counties have tested positive for COVID-19, and 85 people have reportedly died of the virus. The health department reports 678 active cases and 2,888 people who have recovered from coronavirus as of Thursday.
In Northern Kentucky schools on Thursday, three total active cases were reported out of Diocese of Covington schools, including two students at Covington Catholic High School and one case at St. Paul Catholic School. Neither school has reported any staff testing positive for COVID-19. Lindeman Elementary School, part of the Erlanger-Elsmere Independent School District, reported one COVID-19 case in a staff member Thursday.
Northern Kentucky University also reported three active COVID-19 cases in students as of Thursday. The university did not report any staff who tested positive for COVID-19.
Beshear, Stack urge more testing
After the CDC reversed its guidance Wednesday, saying that coronavirus testing is not necessary for people who have been in close contact with infected people who do not show symptoms, Director Robert Redfield said Thursday those who come in contact with a confirmed or probably COVID-19 patient(s) could be tested, even if they don’t show symptoms.
On Wednesay, Beshear encouraged Kentuckians to keep getting tested.
“C’mon, it’s common sense," Beshear said. "If you’ve been directly exposed to somebody who has COVID, don’t you want to know if you have it? Don’t you want to make sure you’re not spreading it to somebody else? Don’t you want to make sure your kids don’t have it? So keep getting tested."
Kentucky Public Health Commissioner Dr. Steven Stack also continued to urge those who come in contact with infected people to get tested, even if they aren't immediately experiencing symptoms.
“This (guidance) has a number of us in public health concerned … because we know as many as 40% of people may be walking around infected and spreading the infection but not having any symptoms or signs,” Stack said.
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, will be 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 will be available through St. E at 7200 Alexandria Pike, Alexandria. The free testing site will be 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.
NKY counties in COVID-19 'yellow zone'
Several Northern Kentucky counties, including Boone, Campbell, Kenton, Grant and Carroll counties, have positivity rates between 5% and 10%, according to the latest White House report.
That puts them in the White House's "yellow" zone, a step below the "red" zone denoting a 10% or greater positivity rate. Now, 16 counties of Kentucky's 120 counties are currently in the red zone, down from 20.
White House data shows most Northern Kentucky counties are in the "yellow zone" with coronavirus positivity rates between 5% and 10%. Beshear said this rating system may determine future actions in different counties, possibly including another recommended delay for in-person schooling in red counties.
Team Kentucky Fund raised $3.5M for those in need
Lt. Gov. Jacqueline Coleman announced that the Team Kentucky Fund has garnered over $3.5 million in donations, and nearly $800,000 has been issued through the program.
So far, the state has issued 2,421 vouchers for the program, serving just over 1,000 Kentucky households. More than $400,000 distributed through the program has gone toward paying rent, plus roughly $100,000 each for mortgages, electricity and food.
$8M dedicated to 'Last Mile' internet for K-12 students
Coleman announced a plan Tuesday to allocate $8 million in CARES Act funding to “Last Mile” internet service to all K-12 students in Kentucky.
Students currently without internet access from low-income homes will be eligible to have the full $10-per-month cost paid through the next school year. Students with internet access from low-income homes will be eligible to have nearly all of the monthly cost paid through the federal Lifeline program for the next two or three school years.
“COVID-19 has not only created new and unique challenges we must confront, it has brought to surface issues that have been plaguing our communities for generations. These underlying issues disproportionately affect communities of color and Kentuckians who live in poverty. One of these issues is lack of access to high-speed internet," she said.
Coleman said before the pandemic, approximately 90% of Kentucky’s K-12 students had internet access, and that number has grown to 95% over the past five months.
The state will send out a request for proposals by Sept. 15 with a goal of identifying providers that can supply high-speed internet service for all Kentucky K-12 students in low-income homes at no more than $10 per month for the next two to three school years.
Watch a replay of the briefing in the player below.