Health

Gov. Andy Beshear said Kentucky might take additional steps to try and slow the spread of COVID-19 in Kentucky, but that the number of new cases in the state appear to be “plateaued.”

During his daily briefing on Wednesday, Beshear said he hadn’t yet decided whether to renew his executive order closing bars and reducing restaurant capacity, which is set to expire next week.

But Beshear said one thing he was considering was allowing bars to open, but with the possibility of a curfew for the businesses and new restrictions preventing people from crowding together in bars.

“One of the major issues is people not seated like in a restaurant, and thus coming together with folks they didn’t come with,” Beshear said. “It’s going to change the bar experience, but it’s going to be necessary.”

Kentucky had 546 new cases of coronavirus on Wednesday, bringing the state’s total to 32,741. There was one additional death, for a total of 752 Kentuckians lost to the illness.

The weekly average of the state’s positivity rate — the number of people testing positive compared to all tests taken — ticked up to 5.51%; it was about a quarter of a percentage point lower on Tuesday.

Beshear has already hinted that he will renew his executive order requiring most people to wear masks in public. The order is scheduled to expire this weekend.

Beshear says the mandate has suppressed the spread of the virus in Kentucky.

“The trajectory that we were going on was terrifying. It’s the same trajectory that states to our south and our west are experiencing,” Beshear said.

“Today’s number, strongly suggests and I believe is evidence of facial coverings working and proving that even when other parts of the country are escalating out of control, we can control our own destiny in Kentucky by simply doing this small act that shows we care about one another.”

Despite what he believes is a plateau of cases, Beshear said he wasn’t yet ready to declare that schools should open to in-person classes across the state.

“We’re still in an uncertain area and I’d like to see that positivity rate lower,” Beshear said. “I’d like to see us headed down, at least moving in the right direction.”

Beshear has called on school districts to delay their openings until the third week of August, though on Wednesday he said he might recommend another delay.

“That’s certainly possible that we would make that recommendation,” he said.

Ryland Barton is the Capitol bureau chief for Kentucky Public Radio.