During today’s press conference, Gov. Andy Beshear announced this is the deadliest day Kentucky has faced in the fight against the coronavirus, with 33 new deaths. It is the third highest day of positive cases, totaling 2,931, with 354 currently in the ICU (intensive care unit) and 50 individuals on a ventilator.
The CEO of Pikeville Medical Center, Donovan Blackburn, reported nearly every county they serve is in the red zone. As of Oct. 1, they were treating 10 COVID-19 patients and as of yesterday, they are treating 83, 27 of whom are in the ICU. Blackburn noted the death rate is also rising; there were five deaths at the beginning of November, and now, just 17 days later, they have faced 22 deaths. He said the rapid increase puts hospitals at risk of shutting down other vital services, and urged Kentuckians to follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendations for protecting against the virus.
Beshear noted the Lexington surge testing area is now open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and is offering significant carrying capacity. He emphasized the need to get tested regularly, stating he gets tested every two weeks.
Beshear said according to the recommendations from the White House, “There is now aggressive, unrelenting, expanding, broad community spread across the country, reaching most counties, without evidence of improvement but rather, further deterioration. Current mitigation efforts are inadequate and must be increased to flatten the curve to sustain the health system for both COVID-19 and non COVID-19 emergencies.”
Beshear said the White House COVID-19 Task Force urged all Kentuckians to do their part to stop the spread and commended Beshear’s active measures.
Beshear said the pandemic is not a political matter, and said he will announce more enforcements during tomorrow’s press conference that may be uncomfortable, but unpopularity aside, “we have to come together and do it.”
According to public health commissioner Dr. Steven Stack, Kentucky is experiencing an exponential growth of COVID-19 cases and the numbers are staggering. He said it’s threatening to overwhelm the healthcare system and further overwhelm contact tracers. Despite hiring nearly 900 people to assist with contact tracing, the growing amount of positive cases makes it nearly impossible to get accurate results. Stack recommends following these steps to assist in contact tracing.
Stack also emphasized Kentucky has a poor health profile due to higher rates of obesity, drug and alcohol abuse, diabetes and cancer. For that reason, he said, minimizing deaths and hospitalizations from COVID-19 is vital as staff members and hospital capacities are becoming overburdened. He said that could result in more deaths related to other conditions while COVID-19 continues to worsen.
In the United States, as of 2018, heart disease is the number one leading cause of death, while cancer is at number two. As of today, Stack warned that COVID-19 is on the track to be the 3rd leading cause of death.
COVID-19 hospitalizations in Kentucky have roughly tripled between Sept 16. and Nov 16. Stack noted the curve continues to grow steeper as 15% or more of all patients in Kentucky are being treated for COVID-19.
Stack said the provided graphs show that approximately the first 14 weeks, the Beshear’s healthy at home policies “blunted the growth curve.”
Stack said the next time the numbers were relatively stable, was when the statewide mask mandate was enforced. This created a roughly 11-week plateau in which the commonwealth managed to stop the disease.
Stack said today, the numbers are increasing without any staggering and he stressed the need for a third intervention, saying Kentuckians are leaving themselves open to substantial harm.
In response to criticism regarding his policies, Beshear displayed a definitive CDC study showing the correlation between dining out and the risk of COVID-19, as well as a Stanford study which noted, “setting an occupancy ceiling of 20% of max capacity for all of these public spaces could cut new infections more than 80% while reducing the overall number of visits by 42%.”
Calloway County Health Department today announced an additional death and 16 new cases of COVID-19. The total number of confirmed cases for Calloway County is now at 1,392, with 1,151 cases recovered, 215 isolated at home, 10 hospitalized, and 16 deaths. Murray-Calloway County Hospital's latest calculated positivity rate reported is 14.47% as of Nov. 16.
For additional information, visit kycovid19.ky.gov.