Health

Tuesday marked Kentucky’s second-highest daily total of coronavirus cases since the pandemic started.

The state reported 674 new cases along with three deaths. Gov. Andy Beshear said during his Tuesday press briefing that over the past week Kentucky had five of its highest daily totals so far, including the single-day record of 979 new cases on Sunday.

Beshear outlined steps recently taken by the state to combat the escalation, such as asking Kentuckians to wear face coverings in public spaces, recommending residents avoid travel to states that are surging in cases and a limit on social gatherings to 10 or fewer people. If the situation worsens in Kentucky, he warned that the state may have to cut restaurant capacities to 25% and close bars.

“You [would] see what would be a real blow to our restaurants, which have already been through too much,” he said. “I don’t want to have to do this. If we have a surge that’s tough enough, following the White House’s guidance, it’s something we’re going to be expected to do.”

New options for Kentucky teachers and school employees were also announced at the briefing. In addition to previously-announced initiatives like unlimited non-traditional instruction (NTI) days for schools and increases in mental health services, Lt. Gov. Jacqueline Coleman outlined a new measure that gives employees unlimited emergency days if they’ve potentially been exposed to an infected person.

Coleman said school districts often allow for two or three emergency days, which might not be long enough for test results to return.

“What happens if teachers, or bus drivers, or cafeteria workers are exposed to someone and not necessarily contracted the virus but has to be quarantined until they get a test back?” she said. “That would allow them to use these emergency days so they don’t have to use sick days.”

Beshear added that there is “no safe region in Kentucky anymore,” as many counties now have more than 100 cases. The state has had a total of 24,060 cases so far.

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