FRANKFORT, Ky. — Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear announced 2,342 new cases of coronavirus on Thursday, including 274 children, as well as 18 virus-related deaths.
Thursday's report, Kentucky's third-highest daily count, comes one day after the state broke its daily case count record with 2,700 cases, a record set on Nov. 5.
So far, Kentucky has seen 129,680 total cases of COVID-19. With the 18 new coronavirus-related deaths, the state's total comes to 1,622 since the pandemic began.
The state also reported its seven-day COVID-19 positivity rate rose to 8.29% on Thursday. Beshear noted that rate increase is not simply due to more testing, but indicates that more people out of the total number tested are positive for COVID-19.
Coronavirus-related hospitalizations also increased Thursday, with 1,311 Kentuckians currently in the hospital for COVID-19, 299 in intensive care units and 163 on ventilators.
Ninety-four counties have moved into that "red" zone on Kentucky's COVID-19 incidence map, indicating spread in those areas of 25 or more cases per 100,000 people. In Northern Kentucky, that includes Boone, Kenton, Campbell, Grant and Pendleton counties. Bracken County was also added to the red zone on Thursday.
The state recommends moving schooling online in red counties and asks Kentuckians living there to limit their contacts to stop the spread of COVID-19.
"This is the way that we avert more serious steps," the governor said. "We need to step up and get it done."
Kentucky’s Supreme Court on Thursday upheld Beshear's authority to issue COVID-19 mandates and restrictions, in a case revolving around the governor’s emergency powers.
"We weren't rating on that ruling to act or not to act. Where we truly are right now is: we've got to get more buy-in for people for current mandates or later ones to work," Beshear said, adding that other states seeing COVID-19 surges are now implementing policies Kentucky already had for weeks or even months.
Still, Beshear said Thursday he is not considering turning "red" zone recommendations into executive orders just yet.
"We're trying to see right now how well these work, how embraced they are by the communities, and we are seeing cities and counties step up to enforce it," he said.
NKY Health reported 7,864 people across Boone, Kenton, Campbell and Grant counties have tested positive for COVID-19, and 101 people have died of the virus. The health department reports 3,019 active cases and 4,744 people who have recovered from coronavirus as of Thursday.
So far, more than 23,629 people who had the virus have reportedly recovered from COVID-19, and the state has now administered nearly 2.3 million coronavirus tests since the pandemic began.
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 the briefing live in the player below: