FRANKFORT, Ky. — Gov. Andy Beshear reported 18 new deaths Wednesday, raising the total virus-related deaths in the last three days to 36 and the statewide total since the pandemic began to 966.
"That happens when we have the number of cases that we have in Kentucky," Beshear said at his daily coronavirus briefing. "They may just seem like they're a number, but it's a very sad, simple equation."
Beshear also reported 816 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, 116 of which were in children under 18, for a total of 49,991 coronavirus cases in Kentucky. The state's seven-day positivity rate rose once again to 4.71% on Wednesday.
Kentucky has administered more than 894,808 coronavirus tests so far, and more than 10,463 people who had the virus have reportedly recovered.
"We are still at least holding steady most of the time at a significant testing threshold. So, with the positivity rate as it is, we're doing a better job at finding a lot of those asymptomatic cases, too," Beshear said.
With Kentucky Derby and Labor Day celebrations this weekend, Beshear urged Kentuckians to limit any gatherings to ten people or less and use precautions like masks and social distancing while celebrating.
"Please, let's not look back and see something as special as what this weekend can be turned into a time when this virus got out of control," Beshear said.
More virus numbers, cases in schools
NKY Health reported that 3,821 people across Boone, Kenton, Campbell and Grant counties have tested positive for COVID-19, and 91 people have reportedly died of the virus. The health department reports 763 active cases and 2,967 people who have recovered from coronavirus as of Tuesday.
In Northern Kentucky schools on Wednesday, Campbell Ridge Elementary School (Campbell Co. Schools) reported one staffer tested positive for COVID-19, and Ft. Wright Elementary School (Kenton Co. Schools) also reported one staff case.
There are now four total active cases out of Diocese of Covington schools, including two students at Covington Catholic, one case at St. Paul Catholic School and one at St. Mary Catholic School. Lindeman Elementary School, part of the Erlanger-Elsmere Independent School District, reported one COVID-19 case in a staff member Wednesday. Bracken County High School has also reported one active case in staff as of Wednesday.
Northern Kentucky University reports three active COVID-19 cases in students as of Wednesday's report. The university has not reported any staff who tested positive for COVID-19.
NKY counties in COVID-19 'yellow zone'
Several Northern Kentucky counties, including Boone and Kenton counties, have positivity rates between 5% and 10%, according to the latest White House report.
That puts them in the White House's "yellow" zone, a step below the "red" zone denoting a 10% or greater positivity rate. Now, 14 counties of Kentucky's 120 counties are currently in the red zone, down from 16.
White House data shows most Northern Kentucky counties are in the "yellow zone" with coronavirus positivity rates between 5% and 10%. 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.
Where to find free COVID-19 tests
In Northern Kentucky, St. Elizabeth Healthcare and Covington's Gravity Diagnostics now offers free, appointment-only drive-thru testing at 25 Atlantic Ave in Erlanger.
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. 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 will be available through St. E at 7200 Alexandria Pike, Alexandria. The free testing site will be open on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Schedule an appointment at those sites online at www.stelizabeth.com/covid-testing.
To find all coronavirus testing locations near you, click here.
Changing guidance for childcare
Health and Family Services Sec. Eric Friedlander announced changes to previous guidance on childcare centers as new COVID-19 case numbers in Kentucky plateau.
The new guidance included increasing capacity from 10 to 15 children in licensed facilities.
Additionally, certified homes, licensed infant and 1-year-old classrooms can return to typical group size.
Beshear announced that COVID-19 has been reported in 168 total facilities, with 134 childcare staff and 107 children inside facilities testing positive statewide.
Ernst & Young to continue helping Ky. unemployment
Ersnt & Young, a firm initially contracted at $7.4 million for four weeks to help Kentucky's unemployment system, will continue to help the state at no additional cost.
With 70,000 claims awaiting adjudication, EY employees will work to resolve some of the most difficult claims like overpayments and interstate wage issues. Beshear announced he would extend the firm's contract once again on Tuesday.
Amy Cubbage with the state's Labor Cabinet said the agreement would cut the backlog in half and free up state workers to resolve continuing and newer claims. She said EY will provide 100 staffers to assist in preparing the written determinations for four weeks, and then 25 staffers for another 12 weeks.
Watch a replay of the briefing in the player below: