FRANKFORT, Ky. — After a "rough" July in terms of rising COVID-19 case numbers, Gov. Andy Beshear said since the state required Kentuckians to mask up on July 10, case growth has slowed from 52% from July 13-19 to 5% from July 27 - Aug. 2.
“Before we can have a full plateau, before we can start seeing case numbers go down, you have to slow the growth that is out there," Beshear said at his daily coronavirus press briefing Monday.
Beshear warned with the rising case numbers last month, state and health officials expect numbers of virus-related deaths to increase within several weeks to a month.
The governor also reported a total of 31,508 total positive cases and 744 virus-related deaths on Monday. Kentucky's positivity rate fell slightly to 5.66% last Thursday, and it fell again to 5.18% on Monday.
"Let's make sure we reduce what will be our final number by as much as we can, and that's by sticking by these right practices every day," he said.
Public Health Commissioner Dr. Steven Stack said Monday that Kentuckians can't become "complacent" in light of cases leveling off, especially when other nearby states are seeing high COVID-19 positivity rates. In order to reopen schools and restart activities, he warned against traveling out of state and asked Kentuckians to keep wearing masks when in public.
“When we work together -- and the biggest things are the masks and social distancing -- we’ll be able to return as much as possible to the activities that we all want to get back to," he said.
Updated travel advisory, preventative actions
The governor announced a travel advisory earlier this month, asking Kentuckians to avoid traveling to states with high COVID-19 positivity rates, and if they do travel to hard-hit areas to quarantine for two weeks. On Monday, the list of states on the travel advisory included Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Idaho, Kansas, Mississippi, Nevada and South Carolina.
To prevent statewide shutdowns and case surges seen in other states, Beshear also recently enacted a 10-person limit on social gatherings, a delay of school start dates to mid-August and a two-week shutdown for all bars, per White House guidance. Restaurants, which health officials believe are connected to 17% of infection clusters, have been ordered to reduce indoor dining capacity to 25% and maximize outdoor seating when possible.
Beshear also renewed his call to employers to use telework when possible, use on-site preventative techniques like masks and temperature checks and other tips to stay healthy at work and stop the spread of the virus.
“These ten rules are really important, and when you start letting up on them, that’s when the virus gets out of control and unchecked,” Beshear said.
More Ky. case numbers
NKY Health reported that 2,827 people in Boone, Campbell, Kenton and Grant counties have tested positive for coronavirus since March, with 851 active virus cases. As of Monday, 80 people have died of the virus and 1,896 people have recovered.
In 248 of Kentucky's long-term care facilities, 2,579 residents (417 active cases) and 1,431 staff (201 active cases) have tested positive for the virus; 475 residents and four staff members have reportedly died of the virus as of Monday. In 51 of Kentucky's day care facilities, 44 staff and 40 children have tested positive for the virus.
Kentucky has administered 642,577 COVID-19 tests so far, and more than 8,335 people have recovered from the virus as of Monday. To find a coronavirus testing location near you, click here.
In Northern Kentucky, St. Elizabeth Healthcare and Covington's Gravity Diagnostics will offer free, appointment-only testing at 25 Atlantic Ave in Erlanger starting Thursday. The site, the former Toyota HQ building off Mineola Pike, will be open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Registration details will follow, Beshear said Monday.
Watch a replay of the briefing in the player below: