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Beshear forecasts ‘difficult fall and difficult winter’ without changes

Kentucky set records for the past two weeks in the number of new cases of the coronavirus and the start of this week looks to be a continuation of the trend, prompting a call to step up enforcement of wearing a mask when out in public, and warning of a difficult fall and winter.

“We cannot have a repeat of last week, in terms of positive cases,” Gov. Andy Beshear said a press briefing at the Capitol on Monday.  “The week before had been the highest week and we shattered it.”

There were 6,126 cases last week, and Monday’s new cases were higher than a week ago, with 543, bringing the pandemic total to 73,158.  Sixty-nine of the new cases were from children ages 18 and younger, while nine were children ages 5 and under. The youngest was only one month old.

“I believe that is the highest Monday, certainly in the last four weeks and by an appreciable amount,” the governor said.  “It took us two months after the first case of COVID to reach 6,000, and we did it in just a week, last week.

“If the current trends continue, it will be a difficult fall and a difficult winter, but I believe that we have the opportunity to improve our situation. One of the big ways we do that is wearing a mask.”

There were also five new deaths reported to state public health officials on Monday, raising to 1,214 the number of Kentuckians lost to the coronavirus.  They include a 69-year-old man from Boyd County; an 85-year-old man and two women, ages 91 and 99, from Daviess County; and a 71-year-old man from Robertson County.

State Public Health Commissioner Dr. Steven Stack warned, “We are in a escalation, where if it continues anywhere near this pace, we will go from 6,000 to 10,000 to 14,000 to 20,000.  It will go up quickly.  This is exactly what happened in New York, this is what happened in Florida, this is what happened in Arizona and Texas.”

Stack noted other democracies, such as Canada, Germany and New Zealand, have figured this out, “Tragically, the United States of America has not.  Our nation, for its many wonderful attributes, unfortunately is a spectacular failure in this regard.”

Beshear said, as a result, the state will be stepping up its mask enforcement, starting immediately.  “We are requesting a call with mayors and county judge-executives. We need them to do it, too.  We need to get back to where everybody out there is getting back to a place where, in your business, you will not check someone out if they are not wearing a mask.”

He added, if this does not reverse in a couple weeks, “then the White House is going to recommend changes in capacity for various businesses.”

In other numbers on Monday, there have been at least 1,539,707 coronavirus tests performed in Kentucky. The positivity rate was 4.69 percent, down slightly from Saturday; and more than 12,445 Kentuckians have recovered from the virus.

Read about updated key numbers, actions and other information from the Beshear administration on the response to the pandemic at kycovid19.ky.gov.