COVID-19 cases in Kentucky again exceeded 1,000 on Thursday, continuing a weeks-long surge throughout the state.
Gov. Andy Beshear reported 1,330 new positive cases, marking the fourth-highest daily total of the pandemic. New diagnoses have consistently approached or broken daily records for nearly a month straight, and Beshear said he feels like he’s announcing a new milestone every day.
“We had held steady for a long time, but now [we are] seeing a real increase – an escalation that continues to rise,” he said. “Today’s numbers show that we are continuing on that trajectory… We can’t be having more than 1,000 cases every day throughout the week.”
A marked rise in Kentuckians receiving specialized care for COVID-19 occurred in a 24-hour span. Patients in the ICU increased by 11, to 203. Beshear said the more “striking” figure was the 105 people on ventilators Thursday, up from Wednesday’s total of 94 – a nearly 12% spike.
Beshear also announced 17 more deaths Thursday, just one day after Kentucky’s second-highest loss of life during the pandemic.
“These two days are painful – painful to our commonwealth, painful to our families,” Beshear said. “We’ve now lost 1,380 Kentuckians. That is a dramatic loss of life. I hope we realize how serious this is, but also how many families out there that have lost a loved one that want us to do the right thing so that others don’t lose a loved one.”
Kentucky is in the “red zone” in terms of spread according White House guidelines, but Beshear has not implemented any new restrictions. He has repeatedly called for stricter enforcement of masking and social distancing regulations over the past several weeks, and said that it has improved.
“It is uneven in some areas, but we are seeing a stronger push,” Beshear said. “That’s not just state agencies, that’s also localities, counties and the rest really stepping up, sometimes the encouragement, sometimes the enforcement. Let’s admit that we can’t enforce our way into really good practices. We have to encourage our way into good practices.”
The difference between the ongoing surge and those seen earlier in the year is that the solutions to limiting spread are now well-established, Beshear said. Those steps include masking, social distancing and avoiding large crowds.
“We know how to do this,” he said. “The question is, are we willing to? We need to answer that question with the affirmative. It’s got to be yes. Because if it’s no, we lose more people around us. We’re in the business of saving lives right now, every single one of us. It’s your job, it’s my job, it’s all of our jobs, so let’s do it.”
Beshear also urged Congress to pass a new stimulus package. Without one, he worries about the effects the pandemic will have on families, the economy and coronavirus prevention.
“Without another CARES Act, we can get through this fiscal year, but the next one will be devastating on the state and localities, and that will make our recession longer and tougher, and it will make it more challenging to get the services out there that we need,” Beshear said.
Kentucky has had a total of 92,299 COVID-19 cases. The positivity rate jumped to 5.3% on Thursday, the highest since Aug. 19.