• 50°

Beshear says coronavirus cases leveling off

FRANKFORT, Ky. (KT) – Despite another high number of new cases of the coronavirus on Thursday, Gov. Andy Beshear says there is room for optimism.

“We hope we are at a leveling off, or a plateau,” Beshear said during a Capitol press briefing.  “Our cases are a little up from Wednesday, but our positivity rate is down, because we have had more tests.”

He said there were 659 new cases, 22 of them children under five.  This was out of 11,217 tests, giving a positivity rate of 5.66 percent, down from the 5.81 percent reported on Wednesday.  The total number of cases now stands at 29,386.

The governor also reported seven new deaths Thursday, raising the total to 731 Kentuckians lost to the virus.

The deaths reported Thursday include a 75-year-old man from Casey County, a 65-year-old man from Christian County, a 92-year-old woman from Green County, an 82-year-old man from Greenup County, an 81-year-old woman from Ohio County, a 63-year-old woman from Simpson County, and a 70-year-old woman from Warren County.

Mark Carter, who heads up contact tracing for the coronavirus response in the state, said they currently have 886 people involved in the program.  “That represents an increase of 455 people since May 1.  We do have the capacity within our CARES Act funding, to add almost another 290.  If we continue to see the virus infection at the current level, I suspect that by mid-September we will probably be at the full complement.”

He noted, people who have been contacted by contact tracers have been cooperative.  “We are making contact with 70 to 75 percent of the people who are identified as contacts, and overwhelmingly, once the health department is able to reach people, they are being cooperative.  They want to protect their health.  They want to protect their loved ones.”

Carter said the contacts they find are across the board.  “We have a flare-up right now in Bell and Harlan counties that seems almost completely attributable to travel, we’re seeing it in employers, at health facilities.  There’s not one thing you can single out.”

When asked about President Donald Trump’s comment about delaying the November election, Beshear replied, “I think we should have no-excuse absentee ballots just like we did in the primary, I believe we ought to have early voting, I believe we should have more polling locations open this time around.  I believe if we do all of those things, we can it safely and we should do it at the normal time.”