Saturday, August 1, 2020

New coronavirus case numbers and 7-day average drop below 600; positive-test rate declines for third day but remains above 5%

Kentucky Health News chart
By Al Cross
Kentucky Health News

Kentucky's coronavirus numbers were almost all improved Saturday.

The number of new cases, 572, was more than 200 less than Friday's fourth-highest figure of 778. The latest report lowered the seven-day rolling average to of daily new cases to 571. The three-day average dropped from 685 to 670.

The number of Kentuckians hospitalized with covid-19 increased slightly, to 602 from Friday's total of 597, but the number in intensive care dropped substantially, to 128 from 150.

The strongest trend line at the moment is the percentage of Kentuckians who have tested positive for the virus in the last seven days: 5.22 percent, the third straight day of decline from a recent high of 5.81% on Wednesday.

Since July 24, the rate has been above 5 percent, which the White House Coronavirus Task Force says is a "danger zone." That and the surge of cases in July prompted Gov. Andy Beshear to close bars, tighten restaurants' indoor capacity and advise school districts not to start in-person classes until the third week of August.

In a news release, Beshear urged obedience of the mask mandate he issued July 9, days after the July surge began. "Facial coverings work," he said. "They are our best chance of saving lives and protecting the health of our people, ensuring our economy can stay open, and getting our kids back in school."

Health Commissioner Steven Stack reminded Kentuckians of another order, one that depends more on public cooperation because it is harder to enforce.

“Gatherings should be limited to 10 or fewer guests, especially informal ones going on in backyards, parks, lakes and similar settings,” Stack said. “The commonly more personal, informal social behavior in these situations is a big risk. If you and your guests are not keeping at least a six-foot social distance and if you’re not wearing masks, this spreads the disease. It places the people you care about most at risk and it endangers others if they spread the disease throughout the community.”

Stack added, “I don’t want to sound like an alarmist, but a big part of this is about the decisions made and behaviors practiced by every one of us as individuals. Public gatherings and social activities can be tinderboxes for covid-19 transmission. Until we get a vaccine or cure to neutralize this threat, we all must continue practicing social distancing and wearing masks.”

The state's covid-19 death toll rose to 740 with five more fatalities, including three men in Oldham County, aged 55, 61 and 67. The others were an 81-year-old man from Jefferson County and an 84-year-old woman from Simpson County. Beshear's office did not immediately respond to a question asking if the Oldham County deaths were connected to the three state correctional facilities in thatg county, at least one of which has had an outbreak of covid-19.

Most county fairs in Kentucky appear to have been canceled, but the Oldham County Fair is planning to open Tuesday, despite advice to the contrary from the county health department, the Louisville Courier Journal reports. The fair plans to screen attendees and require masks, but County Judge-Executive David Vogele voiced doubt about the fair's ability to enforce mask wearing and keep up with necessary cleaning of surfaces over five days. The fair has the same midway as the state fair, Kissel Entertainment.

Counties with more than five new cases Saturday were Jefferson, 152; Fayette, 43; Warren, 32; Kenton, 28; Campbell, 23; Boone, 22; Whitley, 19; Jessamine, 14; Bullitt, 11; Daviess and Madison, 10 each; Barren, 9; Fulton, Graves, Hopkins Perry, Pike and Scott, 7 each; and Hardin, Knox and Laurel, 6 each.

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