FRANKFORT, Ky — For the first time since the coronavirus pandemic started, Kentucky has seen more than 1,000 new cases reported on two consecutive days as Gov. Andy Beshear announced 1,004 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday.
On Tuesday, Beshear reported 1,018 new cases of COVID-19, the second-highest daily case count Kentucky has seen since March.
"We had the most cases we've ever had in a single week last week," the governor said. "And right now we are more than on track to exceed that this week, and what that shows is we are, in our total case count, in an escalation."
The governor also reported four new virus-related deaths on Wednesday. In September, 241 Kentuckians lost their lives to the virus, the deadliest month the state has seen so far in terms of the virus.
Kentucky has seen at least 68,840 total cases of COVID-19 and 1,174 total deaths, and Kentucky's coronavirus positivity rate continues to fall to 4.07%, mainly due to a ramp-up of testing.
Beshear renewed his call to all Kentuckians to continue wearing masks around others, observe social distancing, limit travel and gatherings, get tested, and stay home if they feel sick. In addition, the governor promised to release guidance Thursday for Halloween in Kentucky outlining safe celebrations and trick-or-treating amid the pandemic.
“This is not where we ever wanted to be in Kentucky, so I need your help. I need your help. I don’t know what it takes for us to all have a wake up call because most of us are doing the right thing, but I need your help,” Beshear said Wednesday.
So far, more than 11,840 people who had the virus have reportedly recovered from COVID-19, and the state has now administered more than 1.4 million coronavirus tests since the pandemic began.
NKY Health reported that 4,616 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 907 active cases and 3,613 people who have recovered from coronavirus as of Wednesday.
Extra $400 unemployment payment out
As part of Kentucky’s extra aid through FEMA’s Lost Wages Assistance, Beshear reported that the first three weeks of $400 payments have already gone out. A fourth payment is expected to be sent out Tuesday night, with a fifth payment set to go out Oct. 1 and a sixth payment set to go out Oct. 5.
Between 108,000 and 114,000 unemployed Kentuckians who qualified for the extra assistance have received it each week, Beshear said.
At his briefing Wednesday, the governor called for more federal help through a possible second CARES Act or presidential order that would help Kentucky and other state governments avoid an economic recession through the coronavirus pandemic.
"What it will cause if they don't do it, is cuts in state government, which then cycle through the economy," Beshear said.
Ernst & Young continues to help process a backlog of unemployment claims in Kentucky, helping to resolve 996 written determinations and sorting over 10,000 written determinations the governor said.
New guidance for schools in effect
With Wednesday's high case report, Beshear said his administration is looking at multiple factors in recommending new guidance and pandemic restrictions. Part of that went into effect Monday as his officer recommended students could safely return to in-person classes following Kentucky's new color-coded guidance.
Per that guidance, in effect when Kentucky's positivity rate is less than 6%, the state assigns a color to counties each week based on the number of people per 100,000 who are infected with coronavirus there.
In "green" and "yellow" counties, Kentucky recommends schools follow the Department of Education's Healthy At School protocol while holding in-person instruction. For "orange" counties, the state recommends schools consider switching to virtual or blended learning models.
In "red" counties, where the spread of coronavirus is most severe, Kentucky recommends suspending all in-person learning and school sports competition for at least two weeks. Schools in red counties must see their county drop back down to yellow before resuming in-person activities.
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: