FRANKFORT, Ky. — Gov. Andy Beshear reported 926 new cases of COVID-19, as well as 1,472 "historical cases" which were backlogged over at least the last month from Fayette County.
"They weren't getting the data into the system to report to the state, and they knew they had it and it wasn't getting done. We have now worked with them ... we've been in this pandemic long enough -- it shouldn't have happened, but we're getting them caught up and we're making sure we stay caught up," the governor said.
Kentucky Public Health Commissioner Dr. Steven Stack said the delay was only in data entry, and there were no delays in contacting positive cases and close contacts in the Lexington area.
The 926 new cases included 358 cases in children under 18. The governor also reported five new virus-related deaths Wednesday.
Kentucky has seen at least 76,587 total cases of COVID-19 and 1,223 total deaths, and Kentucky's coronavirus positivity rate dipped slightly 4.21%. So far, more than 12,800 people who had the virus have reportedly recovered from COVID-19, and the state has now administered more than 1.5 million coronavirus tests since the pandemic began.
NKY Health reported that 4,860 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 846 active cases and 3,918 people who have recovered from coronavirus as of Wednesday.
Childcare centers to receive relief funding
Secretary of the Cabinet for Health and Family Services Eric Friedlander announced that licensed and registered child care facilities in Kentucky will receive a one-time $130 grant per child to help keep them open during the pandemic.
About $20 million in funds, diverted from Kentucky's CARES Act money, will mainly be used to shore up employee wages, cover facilities' rent and to help with other expenses related to operating child care centers.
Currently, 1,781 licensed facilities are open in Kentucky with 55 still closed. Additionally, 218 registered child care centers are open with 13 still closed, according to Friedlander.
Gov. renews mask mandate, calls for more federal aid
Given the latest escalation in the number of new coronavirus cases, Beshear renewed Kentucky's mandate on wearing face coverings in public for another 30 days.
“We saw with the last escalation that we have the power to stop it if we simply do what we know works, and that is wearing a mask, engaging in social distancing -- and if we’re honest with ourselves, we know that fewer people are wearing masks right now than we were in July, when we took the steps on the mask mandate to stop the escalation,” the governor said Tuesday.
While Kentucky's coronavirus mortality rate (1.7%) sits lower than the national average (2.8%), Beshear called the rise in cases concerning due to the projected number of deaths that follow increases in new cases.
“It's going to be a hard month. With all the cases we've seen, it's gonna be a hard October. It's going to be a hard November, too, because deaths trail cases," Beshear said.
In light of President Donald Trump’s decision to instruct aides to halt negotiations for a second stimulus package until after the November election, Beshear called on Congress to pass new federal relief for Americans during the pandemic.
“This is their job, and basically it’s saying, ‘We’re not gonna do our job because of politics, because of an election coming up.’ It’s your job in a pandemic to put aside the politics and to sit down and to stop being Democrats and Republicans and to get something done,” the governor said.
After Kentucky broke its record for the highest weekly number of cases last week with 6,126 cases, Beshear said capacity limits could be reinstated for Kentucky businesses if the trend isn't reversed in the coming weeks.
“In seeing our escalation, if we can’t stop here in the next couple weeks ... then the White House is going to recommend changes in capacity for various businesses, and we’re going to have to take a very serious look at it," the governor said.
NKY counties in White House's 'yellow' zone
Several Northern Kentucky counties, including Boone, Campbell, Grant and Kenton counties, continue to show positivity rates between 5% and 10%, according to the latest White House report on Tuesday.
Those counties are in the White House's "yellow" zone, a step below an orange zone indicating a wider spread of cases and two steps below a "red" zone denoting a 10% or greater positivity rate.
Currently, 26 of Kentucky's 120 counties are currently in the red zone, up from 14. Twenty counties are in the orange zone, and 29 are in the yellow zone.
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 for people gathered indoors.
Find free COVID-19 testing in NKY
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.
Watch a replay of the briefing in the player below: