State officials are asking Kentuckians to avoid in-person gatherings this Thanksgiving as both the state and nation monitor spiraling infection rates of COVID-19.

Gov. Andy Beshear announced 2,120 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, the fifth highest daily total since the pandemic began. He also announced 14 new deaths, bringing the total number of Kentuckians who’ve lost their life due to complications with COVID-19 to 1,590 people.

The word “sacrifice” crossed Beshear’s lips not once, not twice but at least three times as he implored Kentuckians do what is necessary this year to ensure their loved ones sit across the table from them at Thanksgiving in years to come.

“We ought to celebrate our blessings, we ought to be able to be in touch with each other through Zoom, but we ought to be thankful for having the knowledge of how to protect those around us,” Beshear said. “And so you know what? 2020 [has] been tough on a lot of things and it’s going to be a little rough on your Thanksgiving gathering, but we are asking you, pleading with you, to do it right.”

This year Thanksgiving is, unfortunately, more than just a recipe for an afternoon nap and an argument over politics with your uncle. COVID-19 spreads through respiratory droplets including saliva. And as Public Health Commissioner Dr. Steven Stack explained Tuesday, Thanksgiving is a recipe for the transmission of novel coronavirus.

You’ve got a bunch of family members and friends from different cities and states gathering in confined spaces around tables where people will undoubtedly remove their masks, eat, drink, laugh, shout, sing and do all the things that spread saliva around the room, he said.

“I hope you’ll please consider very thoughtfully and seriously the Thanksgiving guidance. Please note again that the White House and the state of Kentucky are recommending the same basic guidance to you,” Stack said.

Kentucky issued the following guidance for Thanksgiving:

  • Avoid in-person gatherings with people who do not live in your household
  • Always wear a face covering or mask
  • Maintain a social distance of at least six feet or more
  • Avoid large gatherings, especially those held indoors
  • Do not host or attend crowded parades.
  • Avoid shopping in crowded stores

The Kaiser Family Foundation has ranked Kentucky sixth in the nation for the highest numbers of COVID-19 testing per million residents, but even with that rate of testing the state’s positivity rate continues to climb, reaching 7.68% on Tuesday.

Ryan Van Velzer is WFPL's Energy and Environment Reporter.