Health

Gov. Andy Beshear announced more than 2,000 daily COVID-19 cases in Kentucky on Thursday, for just the second time during the pandemic.

The 2,318 cases fell just short of the Oct. 7 record of 2,398. The latter, however, was due to a backlog of cases in Fayette County, Beshear said.

“There’s no backlog in this one,” he said. “We’re not only over 2,000, we went way over 2,000. This is far, far too many cases.”

Beshear said he remembers when 100 daily cases were worrisome. There have been more than 1,000 cases for 10 days in a row, and a total of 17,601 cases in that timespan.

Now, the state has made the leap from 1,000 daily cases to more than 2,000, and Beshear said that happened “far too quickly.”

“It shows that the widespread community spread is not controlled, and it’s going to take a lot more buy in and action from us,” he said.

Two Kentucky counties are considered “yellow zones,” and 80 are now “red zones,” meaning community spread is high. To combat the spread, Beshear urged counties in the red to follow recommendations issued by the White House, which include switching to virtual schooling, postponing public events, and staying home as much as possible.

“With 80 communities doing this through the next week, and many of them having just done it this week, we can have a very significant and serious impact on slowing the spread of the virus,” Beshear said. “This is about two-thirds of the state. This is an opportunity to really slow the spread of the virus.”

Contact tracing is another important component of stopping the spread. Beshear said Kentuckians must answer when contact tracers call and quarantine when required, adding that the “ramifications of not doing it are unacceptable.”

“We’re seeing a dropoff in people being willing to pick up and to follow the instructions,” Beshear said. “That means we’re seeing more people that would rather knowingly spread this virus than stop it.”

Michael Brown, Secretary of the Kentucky Justice and Public Safety Cabinet, provided an update on COVID-19 cases in the state’s correctional facilities at the briefing. Brown said a previous outbreak at Green River Correctional Complex has flattened, but the virus “continues to pop up in certain places.”

Brown reported 87 new cases at Bell County Forestry Camp, a prison near Pineville. Little Sandy Correctional Complex, which also had a cluster, is now down to 125 active cases.

Kentucky’s prison system will receive 50,000 rapid test kits to test staff and try to limit spread within its facilities.

“That should give us about a 90-day supply,” Brown said. “We’re seeing that sometimes these cases are coming in as our staff goes out in the community. We know we’re having community spread. We’re going to implement that new test system for our staffers, not just to keep them safe, but to keep it down in our facilities.”

Beshear also announced a relief plan for Kentucky bars and restaurants. The state’s Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control is granting a 12-month waiver on alcoholic beverage license renewal fees. Establishments that haven’t paid their fees this year can postpone payment until 2021, and those that have already paid do not have to pay in 2021.

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