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Longterm Care Facilites Will Begin Aggresive Testing As Kentucky's COVID-19 Positivity Rate Rises

J. Tyler Franklin, WFPL

During Governor Andy Beshear’s press conference on Thursday, new guidelines were announced for long-term care facilities, including staff testing every two weeks.  

Cabinet for Health and Family Services Secretary Eric Friedlander reported the federal government will be issuing an additional $5 billion to nursing and veterans facilities across the country to help with personal protective equipment (PPE). 

“The most important thing that we are doing right now from a historical and academic perspective is saving lives,” Friedlander said. “Today, I signed a contract that will allow laboratories to bill us directly for maintenance testing of staff and residents at all nursing facilities across Kentucky. We are asking the nursing facilities to have testing every two weeks for staff.”


The contract signed by Friedlander will allow for more aggressive COVID-19 testing in long term care facilities. 

“We continue to want to support our nursing facilities. We're glad to partner with the federal government, we're making sure that our guidelines dovetail with the guidelines from the federal government,” Friedlander said. “We do feel it's our responsibility, since we're asking people to test that we should be able to provide the means to do that. And so that's what we're announcing today.”

Credit screenshot / Facebook

Beshear reported 611 new cases statewide of COVID-19 and 7 new related deaths. The total number of cases in Kentucky is 25,147.The total number of tests administered statewide is  565,490. The positivity rate is currently 4.94%.  Beshear says the positivity rate has gone up approximately 2% over the last three or so weeks. He says the goal is to see the positivity rate declining.

“If we want to get this virus under control, we ultimately want to see that number eventually going down,” Beshear said. “If that number goes down, even if we have the same amount or more cases, but we have more testing with that number going down, it will show that we are actually lessening the spread of the virus in the overall context of Kentucky.”


There are currently 581 Kentuckians hospitalized due COVID-19, and 135 are in the intensive care unit (ICU).  The total number of confirmed recoveries is 7,046. Beshear says he suspects the number of recoveries to be higher than reported.

“That's an imperfect number. Remember that we get our numbers of positives and tests from labs. Those are required reports. We get the number of people in the hospital for COVID and ICU directly from hospitals. Those are required reports,” Beshear said. “The numbers recovered we typically get from our local health departments and other means, and that's just a tougher number to get the accurate information. We believe it's much greater than that.”

Beshear said for every 611 cases, 18-plus people die from COVID-19.

“We are still in a generally good place with our overall bed capacity, and our number of ventilators that we still have out there,” Beshear said. “But, in escalating cases, that can get out of control really fast. And we continue to see hospital systems in the other states running out of ICU beds.”

Beshear said a larger portion of positive COVID-19 cases has shifted to those under the age of 40. 

“When you look at who can get it, it's in all age groups. And as we're testing more certain age groups, we're finding more positives. So the way we need to look at it as everybody can get this virus. No one is, is immune,” Beshear said. 

Beshear reports 36 child care facilities in Kentucky have had at least one case of COVID-19. 31 staff and 25 children have tested positive. 

Credit screenshot / Facebook

Kentucky’s Public Health Commissioner Steven Stack said in some testing locations there was an issue for people who signed up for the test, but didn’t follow through with the testing. Stack says some received emails saying, “Your recent COVID test returned a result of incomplete. This can occur if there is a problem with how the sample is collected or with the test itself. It could also means you created a test voucher, but did not actually complete the test.” 

Stack says this has led to confusion in people who did not take the test, but received an email about their inconclusive results. 

“I can't say that errors haven’t occurred. But, I can say that some of those emails, if you just clip the top part of it, could easily convey the wrong message,” Stack said. “The data has imperfections, but none of these things that the governor has had to clarify today have undermined my confidence in the essence of the data and that it is substantively correct and that decisions based on it are valid.”

Beshear also asked Kentuckians to reduce their gathering groups of 50 to back down to 10.  

“If we see numbers go from 600 to 800 next week, then we will have to look at doing more,” Beshear said.  “We don't want to because there are some things that happen where people suffer. There's a lot of folks that work in our restaurants that would ultimately be laid off again. There's a lot of small business that wouldn't make it if they had to do this twice. Our goal would be how do we get the maximum impact on reducing the virus with the smallest impact on our economy.”

Hannah is a Murray State Journalism major. She found her place in radio during her second year in Murray. She is from Herndon, KY, a small farming community on the Kentucky/Tennessee stateline.
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