FRANKFORT, Ky. — Gov. Andy Beshear announced 2,946 new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday, fewer cases than the previous two Tuesdays and a sign that new cases have begun to plateau.
“Even though our cases are looking better -- we believe in the very least we have plateaued -- deaths follow the cases from about two weeks ago. So, that escalation that we had results in people that we lose," the governor said.
Beshear also reported 15 new COVID-19 deaths on Tuesday. Since the start of the pandemic, 227,818 COVID-19 cases and 2,239 virus-related deaths have been reported statewide.
Hospitalizations also increased on Tuesday, with 1,788 Kentuckians currently hospitalized for COVID-19, 438 people in intensive care units and 246 on ventilators.
Kentucky's COVID-19 test positivity rate dipped again to 8.53% on Tuesday. Kentucky's fatality rate, the proportion of people who die out of people who test positive for the virus, is down to 0.99% from 1.24% this time last month.
Using the state's contact tracing database, NKY Health reports 3,112 active coronavirus cases in Boone, Campbell, Grant and Kenton counties, with 15,679 people who have recovered from the virus on Tuesday. Since the pandemic began, 128 Northern Kentuckians have died from the virus.
Dr. Deborah Birx, the coordinator of the White House COVID-19 task force who visited Kentucky earlier on Tuesday, told state and health officials that the third COVID-19 case surge has risen more rapidly than previous surges, has lasted longer and has involved more counties.
I was honored to welcome @realDrBirx back to the commonwealth today. We are grateful for her partnership in this fight and her continued commitment to keeping our people safe. Thank you for your work. pic.twitter.com/Xeq8QAaTY1— Governor Andy Beshear (@GovAndyBeshear) December 15, 2020
Kentucky Public Health Commissioner Dr. Steven Stack, sharing Birx’s data Tuesday, said Kentucky has been able to slow the impact of the latest search by temporarily closing indoor dining, limiting capacity businesses and by mandating masks in public.
“We have one of the best performances in the entire country for the low numbers of deaths across the state,” Stack said. “At this point, we’ve shown three times that when we intervene, we can have a positive impact, save lives and minimize disease.”
With Christmas and other winter holidays upon us, Stack discouraged leisure travel and asked Kentuckians to continue adhering to the state’s mask mandate.
“You know what needs to be done," he said. "As hard as it is, you need to stay with only your own household all the way into the new year."
First vaccines in NKY; relief funds accepting applications
St. Elizabeth Edgewood received and administered their first COVID-19 vaccine doses on Tuesday. Kentucky plans to distribute the first vaccines to residents and staff in long-term care facilities as well as healthcare workers. Educators and school staff will be third in line to receive vaccines, and plans to potentially distribute doses to those individuals in February are forthcoming.
The first of five COVID-19 vaccine shipments arrived in Louisville on Monday, and the first Pfizer doses were given to healthcare workers at University of Louisville Hospital. Stack asked Kentuckians to be patient as health officials move as quickly as they can to make the vaccine available to the general public, which is expected in spring or summer.
Kentucky’s food and beverage relief fund has seen nearly 4,300 applications since it opened last month, and $30.2 million in grants has been distributed to restaurants and bars impacted by the indoor dining closure. You can still apply for relief until Dec. 18 at 11:59 p.m. here.
The state’s eviction relief fund, which reopened Monday, has also seen an additional 50 applications for March-December rent relief. For more information and to apply, click here.
Where to get tested for free in NKY
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: