Gov. Andy Beshear said he is planning to withdraw the more than 380 Kentucky National Guard members helping at hospitals and food banks by next week, as COVID-19 case counts continue to fall.
The troops have been helping out for several months, as Kentucky was impacted by the omicron surge.
The announcement comes as cases statewide have been in decline. As of Monday, the positivity rate was just over 6%, down from 9% last week.
Map (and guidance) change
The Kentucky Department for Public Health changed its color-coded map, which tracks COVID spread.
The department has used the incidence rate – the rate of cases per 100,000 residents – to populate the map. The state switched last week to a new model from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It uses the number of cases, the percentage of hospital capacity used for patients with COVID and the percentage of patients with COVID to determine the best guidance for a particular community.
The new metrics show more than a third of Kentucky counties, including Jefferson, in the yellow, or at the medium level of spread. Much of the eastern part of the state is still red.
Beshear said it’s a good sign, and he expects more counties to drop in virus spread.
“What you’ll see is we’ve basically gone from all red which were previous indicators to a lot of yellow to some green. We haven’t seen green in any form for a long time,” Beshear said.
CDC guidance for those in yellow areas is to consider universal mask use in indoor congregate settings and if high risk, consider wearing a well-fitting mask in all indoor public settings.
All colors include recommending vaccination and staying home when sick. The lower green and yellow levels include “targeted mask use in schools and other indoor settings following exposures.” When red, masks are recommended in all indoor public settings including schools.
Beshear also said if cases continue to drop, he’ll consider taking a pause from his weekly COVID briefings, after the one next Monday.
“We don’t have any other state restrictions whatsoever right now as it relates to COVID so I don’t think we will see – other than trying to provide the best information – too many other changes going forward,” Beshear said.