Health

One day after COVID-19 cases reached a record high in Kentucky, Gov. Andy Beshear reported 4,911 new cases Thursday.

Wednesday and Thursday have brought the worst case numbers of the pandemic in the state, with more than 10,000 cases between them. Beshear said the holidays played a role in the rising numbers. The effects of exposure tend to take a couple weeks to materialize in the numbers, state officials have said, and Christmas was two weeks ago.

“We are in a dangerous place,” Beshear said. “It is now clear that we are seeing an escalation related to holiday gatherings. This is not the time to make it harder to react to this virus when it may be surging again.”

The Kentucky House of Representatives on Thursday passed a bill that would allow businesses and schools to reopen if they follow federal guidelines, even if reopening goes against Beshear’s orders.

The state also reached its highest positivity rate since May, at 11.9%. Beshear reported 37 new deaths, bringing Kentucky’s total to 2,843.

The governor urged Kentuckians to follow COVID-19 restrictions and safety guidelines to limit spread until more vaccines are available.

“That’s what we need to do to get through these next couple months,” Beshear said. “Over the last two days, we have vaccinated 32,524 Kentuckians. We are ready to defeat this virus and we need to make sure we protect our people while we do.”

More than 1,700 Kentuckians are in the hospital with COVID-19, 424 are in the ICU and 217 are on ventilators.

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