FRANKFORT, Ky. — After Gov. Andy Beshear reported 1,163 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday -- the highest daily case count Kentucky has seen so far -- the governor announced 785 new cases of COVID-19 for a total of 37,688 cases statewide on Thursday.
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 reported six new virus-related deaths for 796 total COVID-19 deaths. More than 8,865 people have recovered from the virus as of Thursday.
NKY Health reports that 3,294 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 847 active cases, and 2,362 people who have recovered from coronavirus as of Thursday.
Kentucky's positivity rate rose slightly 5.67%, and the state has now administered more than 730,362 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.
Public Health Commissioner Dr. Steven Stack explained that Kentucky's "disease burden" has reached "its all-time high," triggering this recommendation on schools at the advice of White House health officials.
“I am hopeful -- as we have done along this journey -- we will learn lessons from these other places that have done this earlier than us. We will be able to help refine our guidance and our recommendations in the Commonwealth and will be able to give good guidance to the students, the teachers, the parents and try to do this as safely as we possibly can," he said.
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
This week, 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.
Watch a replay of the briefing in the player below: