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COVID cases rising locally despite state’s recent decline

COVID-19 cases across Kentucky have been on the decline so far this week, with fewer new cases being reported for three consecutive days as of Monday. Locally, Bell County has seen its total climb to 280 cases of the virus as of Monday afternoon, with 85 of those being active, while 195 are listed as recovered, according to a statement issued by Bell County Health Department Director Teresa Hunter.

There are currently nine patients hospitalized, according to Hunter’s statement, and of those, there are five females ages 55, 75, 79, 87, and 95, and four males, ages 66, 70, 72, and 83. There have been three deaths among Bell County residents from the virus, with one being an 85-year-old male, as well as two females, ages 68 and 74.

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear reported 323 new cases as of Monday afternoon, with a total of 31,568 in the state at the time. Of those new cases, there are 12 children under the age of 5.

After Friday’s high of 778 new cases in the state, Saturday saw a drop to 572, with 473 on Sunday.  Add in Monday’s 323 cases, and there has been a drop of 455 from Friday’s high.  While weekend totals often drop since some labs don’t report, Sunday, July 19, had the highest single day number of new cases, at 979.

There are currently 612 Kentuckians hospitalized with COVID-19, according to reports made to state public health officials, with 136 of them being in intensive care units.

The two deaths reported on Monday raise the total to 744 Kentuckians lost to the virus.  They include a 99-year-old man from Calloway County and a 75-year-old man from Floyd County.

On the plus side, at least 8,335 have completely recovered, and Kentucky’s positivity rate stood at 5.18% on Monday, based on a rolling seven-day basis, and leveling off what had been a recent downward trend.  Sunday, it was 5.17%, while the positivity rate Saturday was 5.22 percent, down from 5.43% on Friday, 5.66% on Thursday, and 5.81% on Wednesday.

“I was just on a call with the White House,” Beshear said. “While they use some different denominators, they are seeing their positivity rate for us go down as well.  They, like us, are hopeful.  We were thanked on the call for what they described as, ‘leading in taking the steps that were recommended’ and they see in their modeling us moving in the right direction.  I pray that’s true, but let’s have the resiliency and the will to make it true.”

He pointed out that July was the toughest month, with the largest number yet of overall positive COVID-19 cases.  “Unfortunately, that will have negative ramifications for August,” the governor said. “We find we often lose Kentuckians several weeks after they test positive. That means we are likely to have a larger number of deaths in August.”

Despite this, Beshear said there is reason for optimism.

“The numbers are telling us that facial coverings and masks are working,” he stated. “We were facing what looked like exponential growth.  In order to see our cases go down, we had to slow the increase, that’s why the mask mandate was necessary.  If we had done nothing, by now, we would have been seeing 1,000 new cases every day, but instead we are seeing the increase drop off.”

To reinforce the importance of wearing a face covering, the governor unveiled MaskUpKY, a new statewide public service campaign aimed at encouraging the use of masks by everyone in the commonwealth, along with a new hashtag:  #MaskUpKY, to promote facial coverings on social media.

“We know that if we can get the majority of Kentuckians to wear a mask when you go in public, we can make a major difference,” Beshear said. “If we want to get our kids back in school, reopen our economy, keep each other safe and get to a new normal, we need every Kentuckian to wear a mask or facial covering. It’s that simple.”

To continue to fight the virus, Hunter has provided tips to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, and they include:

  1. Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing
  2. Avoid close contact with people who are sick
  3. Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth
  4. Wear a mask. The use of cloth face coverings can help slow the spread of COVID-19 when you are in public and social distancing measures are hard to maintain.

 

Tom Latek of Kentucky Today contributed to this report.