Health

Gov. Andy Beshear announced another near-record high for daily COVID-19 case totals after weeks of cases surging in the state.

Beshear announced 1,864 cases Wednesday, one of the highest totals on record for the day. 

“But for the backlog on a previous Wednesday, this would’ve been the highest Wednesday,” Beshear said. “Which would’ve followed the highest Tuesday, which followed the highest Monday, which followed the highest Sunday, which followed the highest Saturday.”

The total pushes Kentucky past a new milestone – 100,000 cases. More specifically, the case total is closer to 101,500. The recent surge means 65 counties are in the red zone.

“You look at a state that has just 4.4 million people, you see how aggressively it has spread,” Beshear said. “You look at how much of that 100,000 is recent. It shows that we are in the worst escalation of the three we have experienced.”

An outbreak is occurring at the Thomson-Hood Veterans Center in Wilmore, the largest facility operated by the Kentucky Department of Veterans Affairs. There, 54 veterans and 23 staff are currently positive for the virus. Eleven veterans have died from COVID-19.

“Some of the best [long term care facilities] have had significant outbreaks,” said Cabinet for Health and Family Services Secretary Eric Friedlander. “This is a great facility. But we have to do our part. We have to wear our masks. We have to follow the guidelines. And that’s the best way we can give back to our veterans and protect them.”

Despite clusters at long term care facilities, Beshear said it’s everyday citizens who are driving the spread. Without a high prevalence in the surrounding community, the virus would be less likely to make its way into congregate living facilities.

The governor said most of the spread is coming from home gatherings, a point now agreed upon by the White House. He urged those hosting Halloween parties this weekend to scrap those plans.

“None of us can say it’s not in our community anymore,” Beshear said. “None of us should say it’s just in the nursing home, or in the prison. It is in the community. If you’re not wearing a mask, you’re putting yourself at risk.”

To combat the recent spike, Beshear announced a new surge testing program.

“We’ll have additional testing in Louisville and Lexington, which reported the highest number of cases today,” Beshear said.

Starting tomorrow, additional testing will be available at the Kentucky Exposition Center. Testing will be limited to 200 tomorrow, but every subsequent day through Saturday will have 300 tests. Lexington’s site will start Nov. 9.

An additional 14 deaths were announced today. The state’s positivity rate is now at 6.07%.

John Boyle covers southern Indiana communities and health for WFPL News. He is a Report for America Corps member.