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Number of cases slide again with 1 death reported

The number of new cases of the coronavirus in Kentucky took another sharp drop on Wednesday, and only one new death was reported to state public officials.

During a Capitol press conference, Gov. Andy Beshear announced 546 new positive cases, down from 700 on Tuesday.

“It’s hard to believe that can be good news,” he said. “But the trajectory that we had been on was terrifying.  It was the same trajectory that states which are still dealing with the devastation to our south and to our west are experiencing, and other states appear to be headed in that direction.  Today’s number strongly suggests, and I believe is evidence of facial coverings working.”

One number that he didn’t like was the number new cases involving young children.  “21 kids under five,” Beshear said.  “Today, our youngest individual is just 18 days old.  Thankfully, not hospitalized at this time, but let’s wear our masks for this 18-day old.  Let’s make sure that we are protecting one another.”

He noted that is seems like there have been around 20 cases every day.  “It’s very concerning and is something we have to look at very closely as we get closer to any resumption of in-person classes.”

The total cases during the pandemic now stands at 32,741.  The number of Kentuckians who are in the hospital was 620, with 131 of them in the ICU.  The positivity rate was up about a quarter point to 5.51 percent, which the Governor said was above where we want to be.

The death reported Wednesday was a 71-year-old woman from Logan County.  “That is still one family that will need our help,” Gov. Beshear said. “We pray and think about this family and what they must be going through, as we have with all of the families.”

As of Wednesday, there have been at least 663,100 coronavirus tests performed in the state, and at least 8,467 Kentuckians have recovered from the virus.

Secretary of the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services Eric Friedlander provided and update on benefit programs to help Kentuckians and work to keep long-term care facilities safe.

“We want folks to sign up for benefits,” Friedlander said. “It makes sense to have health care coverage during a pandemic. It also makes sense to have food during a pandemic.”

Secretary Friedlander encouraged Kentuckians to apply for health care assistance and access to food through the Medicaid, SNAP and WIC programs.

He said approval of a waiver under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act has been granted, giving thousands of Kentucky families an additional six months of SNAP benefits that would have expired June 30.  This, in addition to an extension granted to those SNAP households with benefits expiring in March, April and May.

“Take advantage of signing up. When you get SNAP, you support your local grocers. When you get Medicaid, you support your local health care industry,” he said.  “Without Medicaid, the health care industry would collapse. Without SNAP there would be significant damage to our grocers and local communities.”

He also said Kentucky federal CARES Act funds are being used to support testing of staffers in all of the state’s 286 long-term care facilities every 14 days for COVID-19.  That will continue through the end of the year and will help keep residents of these facilities safer.

“We have done a good job in Kentucky and we are going to continue to do a good job,” Secretary Friedlander said. “We are going to continue to provide the services necessary to make a difference. I believe we have, and I believe it shows in our rates.”

He said Kentucky is often ranked in the mid-40s among the states, but not when it comes to protecting those in long term care facilities.  “We’re in the high 20s, in terms of the best states in the country.  In terms of our case rates, and in terms of our death rates.”

Friedlander acknowledged around two-thirds of Kentucky’s deaths from the coronavirus are associated with long term care facilities.  “It’s been a problem worldwide, it’s been a problem nationwide, and it’s been a challenge here in Kentucky.  But when you look at our relative health tests, we have done a very good job, and we’re going to continue to do a good job.”

Find more information from the Beshear Administration on their response to the coronavirus pandemic at kycovid19.ky.gov.

Gov. Beshear will have another press briefing Thursday at 4 p. m. EDT, which is the last one currently scheduled for this week.

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