Health

Gov. Andy Beshear reported two records for COVID-19 cases in Kentucky on Monday, continuing a surge that led to his enactment of public safety restrictions last week.

The 2,135 new daily cases marked the highest total for a Monday since the pandemic started. Mondays typically have lower case totals due to labs not operating on weekends.

But recent weeks have seen Monday figures consistently rise.

“I’m tired of having to report that,” Beshear said. “I’m tired of watching our people suffer, knowing that every day we have a new record, more people are going to need to go to the hospital, and more people are going to die.”

Beshear also announced a new weekly record of COVID-19 cases for the state. For the first time, there were more than 20,000 cases reported in Kentucky over the course of the week – a figure that easily shattered the previous record, Beshear said.

“That’s [more than] 3,000 cases more than the previous week,” Beshear said. “Do you remember how shocking it was when we had 3,000 cases in a single week? 

“This is exponential spread. It will, and it is, overwhelming us. That’s why we must take action.”

Last week, Beshear announced a series of new restrictions to limit the spread of COVID-19. Those included the closing of indoor service at bars and restaurants, capacity limits at a variety of venues, and the transition to remote learning for schools.

The restrictions have been met with pushback from Republican state officials, and some businesses and schools have announced they intend to defy the orders.

“Every day that we spend arguing with each other is a day that we are not putting all of our efforts towards stopping this virus,” Beshear said. “Some of us can ignore it, but it’s not going to ignore us.”

Kentucky Public Health Commissioner Dr. Steven Stack referenced a study showing how adherence to the restrictions could affect spread of the virus in a 14-county region that includes Louisville. If everyone were to comply, almost 1,000 deaths could be averted by mid-January. Even low compliance could still prevent more than 500 deaths.

“This is substantial,” Stack said. “Those measures, if they’re followed, could have a profound impact and could really change the trajectory of this, and completely avert the crisis of health care staffing and the harm that is caused to other people without COVID who aren’t able to get care because COVID fills the hospitals, consumes all the resources and also causes health care workers to go out sick,” Stack said.

Beshear reported five additional deaths Monday. The positivity rate sits at 8.97%. More than 1,500 Kentuckians are in the hospital due to COVID-19, 391 are in the ICU, and 203 are on ventilators.

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