“This virus ain’t going away after the election,” Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear told the state in an abbreviated Tuesday afternoon news conference, referencing President Donald Trump’s repeated claims about the COVID-19 pandemic. “The day of the election, it is continuing to surge.”
Beshear reported state health officials had recorded 11 new deaths and 1,795 new coronavirus diagnoses between Monday and Tuesday, making Election Day the sixth-highest day of new diagnoses since the beginning of the pandemic. Around 255 of the new patients are children.
“Things are getting worse and more concerning” throughout Kentucky, Beshear said. They’ll stay that way on Wednesday, regardless of who wins the presidential race or any other.
“When you wake up tomorrow, I hope you realize that no matter who wins or who loses, we are still at war with this virus, and we’re going to need your effort no matter the outcome,” he said.
As in other states, where public health officials have attributed rising case totals to “COVID fatigue” — people breaking quarantine out of emotional exhaustion — and relaxed social gatherings, Beshear said most new cases have emerged from unsafe interactions between small groups of family and friends.
He also criticized the decision of school systems such as Boone County Schools, which is located in a high-incidence county, to send students back to fully in-person classes.
The 255 new child patients should prove that children are vulnerable to the virus, Beshear said. Even if they don’t become ill, they are able to transmit it.
His administration has recommended against returning to in-person lessons in high-incidence (or “red”) counties but not taken formal action to stop school systems that act against recommendations.
Instead, Beshear tried an emotional plea.
“Nothing about COVID is easy, and there’s no decision or recommendation I can give where we’re going to defeat the virus, but we’re not going to have to change our lives or it’s not going to take a humon toll on us,” he said. “This is a mean virus. … Once you hit the red, if you’re not following the recommendation, maybe there’s no number high enough that we’re willing to do what it takes.”
Hospitalizations are increasing quickly, according to the governor. Kentuckians should continue practicing common-sense safety measures such as social distancing, mask-wearing and hand-washing to prevent even more spread.
Beshear discussed the election only briefly, saying he was confident in Kentucky’s system and hopeful that Kentuckians would keep their focus on the virus after results arrived.
“There are real enemies out there, and the enemy is not each other,” he said. “Please, please, when we wake up tomorrow, remember we are still in the middle of this coronavirus pandemic and we need your help.”