Dozen deaths reported, total cases move past 40,000

Published 10:21 am Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Another deadly day for the coronavirus in Kentucky on Tuesday as a dozen deaths were announced, and the total number of cases has advanced past 40,000 after another 627 was reported.

“This is about what we’ve seen on other Tuesdays going back three or four weeks,” Gov. Andy Beshear said during a Tuesday Capitol briefing.  “We’re announcing 627 new cases of COVID-19, 76 of them are in Kentuckians 18 years or younger.  So, again, we are seeing 10, 12, 15-pluz percent of each of the numbers every day coming back like that, even though we believe the percent tested is significantly below the amount they make up of our population.”

There were also 14 new cases involving children under five years of age, including a one-month old from Pike County, he said.

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Tuesday’s new cases bring the total to 40,299, since the first one was reported on March 6.  Despite the big jump in new cases, the state’s positivity rate dropped to 5.48 percent, down from Monday’s 5.8%.

“That’s good,” Beshear said, “but still over that five percent mark, which is really concerning.  But I believe first, we have to plateau, then we can get on that downward slope.  Then, we will be in a much safer place to do things.”

There are currently 622 Kentuckians in the hospital, 147 in the ICU and 88 on a ventilator.

In addition, Beshear announced 12 Kentuckians lost their lives to the coronavirus on Tuesday.  “We haven’t had a lot of days where we have had double-digit deaths.  What we’ve suffered from are a few every single day, which is hard; but on a day when we’ve had 12, from all over Kentucky, is a difficult day.”

The new deaths include a 44-year-old woman from Carter County; a 67-year-old woman from Daviess County; an 89-year-old man from Graves County; two women, ages 72 and 83, and two men, ages 72 and 80, from Jefferson County; a 67-year-old woman from Letcher County; a 75-year-old woman from Oldham County; a 72-year-old woman and a 73-year-old man from Perry County; and an 84-year-old woman from Washington County.

State Public Health Commissioner Dr. Steven Stack provided new information on a prison testing pilot program for COVID-19.

He said a pilot program is testing wastewater at Kentucky Correctional Institute for Women in Shelby County and the Kentucky State Reformatory in Oldham County. He said university labs will test the wastewater for the presence of COVID-19 RNA, hopefully providing an early indication of an outbreak.

“We are committed to keeping inmates and the staff that work in correctional facilities safe,” Stack stated.  “This enables us to monitor a population that is confined in an area without having to test them unless we see a warning sign in the wastewater. In this type of test, COVID-19 also shows up multiple days earlier than people become symptomatic. So, there’s a lot of reason to be hopeful about this.”

Stack also reported that under a new reporting protocol, schools will identify new COVID-19 cases and the students and staffers involved. The school will then notify the Kentucky Department for Public Health. The individual schools also will notify their school community about new cases. Finally, the KDPH will publish school case reports, just as it does for long-term care reports. The current plan is to not publicly list names, ages or genders of positive cases matched to a school, but to report the overall positive number of cases involving educators and students.

“Bringing kids back to school is not an issue where public health is in any disagreement with education,” Stack said.  “It’s not easy that we recommend that schools defer in-person class. Even though at the national level there’s clearly an emphasis on getting back in school, the surgeon general himself has said that when your test positivity rate goes over 10%, it’s going to be really hard to succeed regardless of your plans in place because the disease just spreads too fast.”

He added, “The World Health Organization goes further and says at over 5%, you’re going to have a really hard time,” said Dr. Stack. “We’re all committed to getting kids back to school, but we’ve got to do it safely.”

Gov. Beshear says his next press briefing will be Wednesday at 4 p.m.

You can find out more about other key updates, actions and information from Gov. Beshear and his administration on the response to the coronavirus pandemic at