FRANKFORT, Ky. — At Gov. Andy Beshear's Thursday coronavirus briefing, Sec. of State Michael Adams gave an update on how Kentuckians can participate in the November general election by mail/absentee ballot, early in-person voting and in-person on Election Day.
“This is going to be the most convenient election we’ve ever had. This is the most voter-centric election we’ve ever had in Kentucky history,” Adams said.
Kentucky will allow any registered voter who believes voting in person could expose them to COVID-19 to vote by mail with an absentee ballot.
If you're concerned about postal delays affecting your ballot delivery, you will have the option to use ballot drop boxes, which will be placed by county clerks. Additionally, any registered Kentucky voter can cast a ballot early, for any reason, every work day between Oct. 13 and Election Day, Nov. 3. Local clerks offices will also hold voting on Saturdays for a four-hour period.
Jared Dearing, the executive director of Kentucky's elections board, encouraged eligible voters to cast a ballot as soon as they can so officials can properly count that vote and reach out to correct any irregularities.
“If there is a ballot irregularity, if you have mistakenly cast that ballot in error, the state will be able to reach out to you … so that we can notify you of the error and then give you an opportunity to be able to cure whatever that irregularity is so that we can make sure your ballot gets counted,” he said.
Lt. Gov. Jacqueline Coleman echoed that recommendation, asking all Kentuckians to make a plan for voting in the general election.
“As a mom, I’ve been thinking a lot about how we prepare the future world for our children. Voting does exactly that,” she said. “By making your voice heard at the ballot box, you have a say in the direction of your communities, state and country for years to come.”
For information on how to register to vote, apply for an absentee ballot, check your voter registration and find answers to your frequently asked voter questions, visit WCPO's 2020 Elections Guide.
Thursday's COVID-19 report
Beshear announced 628 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, including 76 cases in children under age 18. Beshear also announced 11 virus-related deaths at his Thursday coronavirus briefing.
"If you don't think you know someone that we've lost because COVID, I'm not sure you've talked to enough people around you," he said. "It's touched everybody now, in multiple ways."
Kentucky has seen at least 59,370 total cases of COVID-19 and 1,093 total deaths as of Thursday. So far, more than 11,109 people who had the virus have reportedly recovered.
The governor reported Kentucky's coronavirus positivity rate dropped to 3.82% on Thursday. Kentucky has now administered more than 1.1 million coronavirus tests since the pandemic began.
"Remember: it's not because we are testing folks that we do better. It is because of our actions, it's because of social distancing, it's because of wearing a mask. We believe that mask mandate is working and without it our numbers and our positivity rate will go up," Beshear said.
NKY Health reported that 4,237 people across Boone, Kenton, Campbell and Grant counties have tested positive for COVID-19, and 92 people have reportedly died of the virus. The health department reports 728 active cases and 3,347 people who have recovered from coronavirus as of Thursday.
NKY counties remain in White House's 'yellow zone'
Several Northern Kentucky counties, including Boone, Campbell and Kenton counties, continue to show positivity rates between 5% and 10%, according to the latest White House report on Wednesday.
That keeps them in the White House's "yellow" zone, a step below a "red" zone denoting a 10% or greater positivity rate.
Now, 13 of Kentucky's 120 counties are currently in the red zone, down from 24 on Sept. 9.
Beshear has said the Trump administration's rating system may determine future actions in different counties, possibly including another recommended delay for in-person schooling in red counties. The White House report also advised that Kentucky keep its mask mandate, which was renewed for another 30 days on Sept. 4.
COVID-19 cases in schools
In Northern Kentucky schools on Thursday, Beechwood Elementary School (Beechwood Independent Schools) reported a new active case of COVID-19. Campbell Ridge Elementary School (Campbell Co. Schools) reported one staffer tested positive for COVID-19, and Ft. Wright Elementary School (Kenton Co. Schools) also reported one staff case.
There are now five total active cases out of Diocese of Covington schools, including two student cases at Covington Catholic, one case at St. Paul Catholic School, one at St. Mary Catholic School and one at St. Patrick Catholic School in Maysville.
Lindeman Elementary School, part of the Erlanger-Elsmere Independent School District, reported one COVID-19 case in a staff member. Bracken County High School reported a staff member who tested positive has recovered.
Northern Kentucky University reports six active COVID-19 cases in students as of the most recent report on Thursday. Two students there have recovered from the virus, and the university has not reported any staff cases of COVID-19. Thomas More University also reported two active student cases and zero staff cases. Gateway Community & Technical College reports one active staff case.
Where to find free COVID-19 tests
In Northern Kentucky, St. Elizabeth Healthcare and Covington's Gravity Diagnostics offers 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.
Schedule an appointment at those sites online at www.stelizabeth.com/covid-testing.
To find all coronavirus testing locations near you, click here.
Watch a replay of the briefing in the player below: