FRANKFORT, Ky. — After testing negative for COVID-19 on Tuesday, Gov. Andy Beshear reported 1,163 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday, the highest daily case count Kentucky has seen so far.
Earlier this week, the governor reported that a computer glitch had delayed new case reports from reaching the state to be counted.
“The most accurate thing we can do in the way that we’ve reported is that when they are processed by us, they go onto the site. So today, we’ve set a record that we didn’t want to set -- we never wanted to get over 1,000 cases," he said.
Kentucky reports 36,945 total COVID-19 cases and 790 virus-related deaths. More than 8,819 people have recovered from the virus.
NKY Health reports that 3,265 people across Boone, Kenton, Campbell and Grant counties have tested positive for COVID-19, and 85 people have reportedly died of the virus. The health department reports 849 active cases, and 2,331 people who have recovered from coronavirus as of Wednesday.
Kentucky's positivity rate has fallen slightly from 6% to 5.62%, and the state has now administered more than 711,017 coronavirus tests.
Gov. urges schools delay in-person start
On Monday, Beshear recommended delaying the start of in-person classes in Kentucky until Sept. 28. Beshear called opening schools while cases continue to rise “something that would defy logic, something that wouldn’t be safe to do.”
“Let’s be smart about this. All we’re asking for right now: one month. One month to not make mistakes with our children, their parents or their teachers," he said Wednesday.
The decision to open K-12 classrooms or keep students at home still rests with local school districts. In Northern Kentucky, Kenton County Schools, Covington Independent Public Schools and Fort Thomas Independent Schools have altered their plans and moved instruction online during the first six weeks of school
On Tuesday, the Diocese of Covington joined Lexington and Louisville in their decision to start in-person classes before September.
“I disagree with their decision, I don’t believe it’s safe. We just had 1,100 cases,” Beshear said, adding that Kentucky hasn’t had a chance to see results of the mistakes other states’ schools have had as they reopen "too early."
Aside from rising virus cases and positivity rate, Beshear said his recommendation aims to prevent interruptions that other states' school systems have seen, like the shutdowns required when coronavirus breaks out in those schools.
“If you come back for three days and then have to stop, and then have to get distance learning going, it might hurt your students even more," he said.
In addition, Beshear said some Kentucky families continue to go on beach vacations to COVID-19 hotspots in Florida and South Carolina, a factor which could further spread the virus as children return to school.
Beshear expressed concern last week that if the state's coronavirus positivity rate does not fall soon, school reopenings might be pushed back from the third week of August to a later date.
“I am for getting our kids safely back into in-person classes, even during this pandemic. It’s just getting them back at the height of the pandemic I think would be irresponsible," he said.
Travel advisory updated
On Wednesday, Beshear updated his travel advisory, which recommends a two-week self-quarantine for Kentuckians who travel to states and U.S. territories reporting a coronavirus positivity rate equal to or greater than 15%.
Those states now include Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Idaho, Nevada, Mississippi, South Carolina, Texas and Washington.
Free testing in NKY this week
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, starting Tuesday, Aug. 11. 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.
Bars reopen with 10 p.m. service cutoff
Effective Tuesday, Beshear announced a new mandate to increase capacity for bars and restaurants to reopen at 50%, emphasizing the importance of restaurants to prioritize outdoor seating.
To reopen, bars and restaurants must observe a food and beverage service "cutoff" at 10 p.m., with establishments closing by 11 p.m.
Bars can expect to have an "enforced seating" rule, and bar patrons should expect to have an assigned seat in a bar and that they should sit in that seat unless making a trip to the restroom. All service and orders should take place at the table with the group or party that people come to the establishment with.
All employees and patrons must wear masks when not eating or drinking, and no one is allowed to congregate at the bar.
The update mirrors a similar practice mandated in Ohio at the end of July.
Watch a replay of the briefing in the player below: