FRANKFORT, Ky. — Gov. Andy Beshear reported 1,487 new cases of COVID-19 and 21 virus-related deaths Wednesday, the second-highest number of cases and deaths reported in a single day.
Kentucky has seen at least 90,996 total cases of COVID-19 and 1,363 total deaths since the pandemic began. Kentucky's coronavirus positivity rate dipped slightly to 4.99% Wednesday.
"First, our overall number of cases is significantly higher than it was in the summer. Second, we're not just seeing this regionally. We're seeing it happen all over the country. Third, it's not just cases that are going up -- it's hospitalizations, ICU occupancy and deaths - those are all suggestion of surges -- and finally, it's happening at a time when the weather is getting colder and more people are going inside," Beshear said at his regular briefing Wednesday.
As of Wednesday, 794 Kentuckians have been hospitalized for COVID-19, with 203 in intensive care units and 94 on ventilators.
Because of a recent escalation in coronavirus cases, Beshear announced Tuesday that Kentucky has begun "surge preparations," among them limiting capacity in hospitals as it did at the beginning of the pandemic.
Those preparations also include examining possible hotel options, using state parks and looking at operational plans in place to set up a field hospital, if necessary.
"We are making our preparations to be ready from a logistics side for a second surge. Certainly we think that is happening nationally, but we've shown here in Kentucky that we can stop it," Beshear said, calling on Kentuckians to keep wearing masks and observe social distancing.
So far, more than 17,534 people who had the virus have reportedly recovered from COVID-19, and the state has now administered more than 1.8 million coronavirus tests since the pandemic began.
NKY Health reported that 5,466 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 1,444 active cases and 3,926 people who have recovered from coronavirus as of Wednesday.
Beshear and his family are now in their second week in quarantine after they came in contact with a security detail who tested positive for COVID-19. Beshear said he and the first family have continued to test negative for COVID-19.
Rent assistance fund closing applications
Beshear announced that Kentucky will close its application portal for the Healthy At Home Eviction Relief Fund.
“If more funding becomes available, if we have another round of CARES Act funding or if we can get it through other sources we may well be taking applications again,” Beshear said.
The fund, launched in August and which accepted applications starting Sept. 8, garnered 5,305 applications from tenants, 3,709 of which are ready for review.
That will expend most of the $15 million in CARES Acts funds allocated to the fund, which may help cover up to two months of future rent.
The Kentucky Housing Corporation has sent $1.5 million in payments to 408 landlords to cover back rent for tenants, and Beshear said they are looking to increase the pace at which payments go out soon.
Agencies awarded $780K to prevent pandemic scams, price gouging
Beshear announced Tuesday that more than $780,000 in federal funding was awarded to Kentucky public safety agencies and offices to help protect people including seniors, against scams, fraud and price gouging during the COVID-19 pandemic.
"The funding that we provided goes to law enforcement and public safety agencies to take forceful action to stop predators and protect Kentuckians," the governor said.
To fight price-gouging efforts, the Attorney General’s Office of Consumer Protection Enforcement Unit has been awarded more than $540,000 to hire a staff attorney, a paralegal and an investigator to respond to pandemic-related consumer fraud, scams and price-gouging complaints. The AG's Office of Senior Protection has been awarded more than $150,000 to hire a dedicated investigator to address fraud targeting seniors during the pandemic.
The state has published a Charitable Giving Guide with advice on identifying legitimate charities and avoiding charity scams, which are expected to increase during the upcoming Christmas season and as the tax year draws to an end.
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: