260 new KY coronavirus cases and 12 deaths in two days. More reopening rules issued.

Daniel Desrochers

Gov. Andy Beshear announced 138 new cases of COVID-19 in Kentucky Monday, bringing the total number of cases to 7,935 in a week where retail businesses and restaurants are scheduled to reopen.

Beshear also announced 122 new cases from Sunday. He said two more Kentucky children have come down with an inflammation syndrome associated with COVID-19 — a five-year-old who has been able to return home and an 11-year-old who is in the hospital. The two previous cases affected a 16-year-old who is recovering at home and a 10-year-old who is still in the ICU.

“This is essentially a situation where weeks after the child would have gotten over the initial infection, their immune system becomes overactive,” said Dr. Steven Stack, Kentucky’s public health commissioner.The syndrome comes as Kentucky has seen a spike in the number of people hospitalized with the virus. On Monday, Beshear said 447 Kentuckians are currently in the hospital, the highest number of people hospitalized since April 16. At least 277 of the Kentuckians hospitalized are in intensive care and 2,785 people have recovered from the virus.

There have been 12 deaths over the past two days — nine Monday and three Sunday — all from Jefferson County, where the city had reported a higher death toll than Beshear through all of last week. There have been a total of 129 deaths in Jefferson County, the highest death toll in the state.

Many of the deaths have come from nursing homes, where more than 1,000 residents and 423 staff members have contracted the virus. The 200 nursing home deaths make up 58 percent of the total coronavirus-related deaths in Kentucky.

The state has a plan to test all Kentucky nursing home residents and staff. This week, Stack said facility-wide testing will occur in 23 nursing homes. More than 3,000 tests will be administered in the next two days, he said.

Businesses being allowed to reopen this week include non-essential retail stores at 33 percent capacity on Wednesday and restaurant dining rooms at 33 percent capacity on Friday.

People also will be able to gather in groups of 10 or less starting Friday as Memorial Day weekend kicks off.

Reopening guidance for hair, nail and tattoo shops

Beshear issued reopening guidance Monday for barbers and hair dressers, which can reopen May 25. Along with the standard guidance the state has given all businesses (use electronic payments, keep interactions with others to a minimum, wear masks, etc.) barber shops and hair salons must close their waiting areas and only see customers by appointment. They also must toss shared magazines. The state recommends screening customers for symptoms of COVID-19 and says all tools must be cleaned and disinfected after each use.

Barbers, cosmetologists and hair dressers will have to wear masks and gloves when touching a customer’s face and will have to change their gloves after each customer.

Tanning salons will also have to stop using waiting areas and provide services by appointment only, according to the guidance. They will have to clean any high-touch areas with 60 percent alcohol solutions.

Tattoo parlors can not allow anyone to accompany the person getting a tattoo. Tattoo artists must wash their hands before seeing a new customer.

Disease detectives being deployed

As the state reopens, there will be an increased emphasis on contact tracing — the “disease detectives” who figure out who may have come into contact with the virus. Beshear announced that Mark Carter will lead the state’s contact tracing program. Carter was previously the CEO of Passport Health in Louisville.

The state is in the process of hiring 600 or more contact tracers, who will work in partnership with local health departments to identify who may be infected and convince them to quarantine.

“Contact tracing is the way we get back as much as possible to what normal used to look like,” Stack said.

Beshear emphasized that Kentuckians will have to “answer the call” from the health department and quarantine themselves if they may have come in contact with the disease. Beshear said whether a person must quarantine will depend on how long someone was exposed to the virus and whether they are at high or low risk of catching it.

Beshear encouraged all people to get tested, especially in the hot spots of Ohio County and Graves County, where he said not enough people have been signing up for drive-thru testing operated by Kroger this week.

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