By TOM LATEK, Kentucky Today
FRANKFORT, Ky. (KT) – A total of 2,398 cases of the coronavirus were reported to state public health officials on Wednesday, but the majority of them were due to a backlog of reporting them by the Lexington-Fayette County Health Department.
During a Wednesday press briefing at the Capitol, Gov. Andy Beshear said, “We’re reporting 926 new cases. That is a significant number in and of itself,” Gov. Andy Beshear said during a Wednesday press briefing at the Capitol. “There are 1,472 we’ll call them ‘historical cases,’ mainly from the last month and a half from Fayette County.”
He noted, “With the exception of perhaps a couple hundred, which will come in over the next couple days, this will get Fayette County caught up and current. I reiterate that we really need our local health departments, which are working really hard, to timely report the data, and we see that the vast majority of them have.”
Since those Fayette County cases have not been previously reported, it brings the total to 76,587, since the first positive case in Harrison County on March 6.
Despite the high number of new cases, the state’s positivity rate is continuing to drop. It stood at 4.21 percent on Wednesday, a decline from 4.29 percent on Tuesday and down from 4.69 percent on Monday.
The governor also reported five new deaths, which makes the pandemic total now at 1,223. “We expect in the next several weeks these daily numbers will go up, as the number of cases has gone up. Each one is an important individual, whose family loves and misses them.”
The new deaths included a 65-year-old man from Harlan County, an 80-year-old woman from Greenup County, a 75-year-old woman from Whitley County, a 68-year-old man from Fayette County, and a 79-year-old man from Henderson County.
More cases have been reported at the Thompson Hood Veterans Center in Wilmore, with at least 25 veterans testing positive, according to Beshear.
“The center is conducting facility-wide testing of all veterans and employees every 72 hours, as well as testing anyone showing COVID-19 signs or symptoms,” he stated. “Employees are screened daily, as well as tested every Monday and Thursday. Protocols for isolation and safety are in place, and a COVID unit has been established, in accordance with the guidelines and recommendations.”
He added nine symptomatic veterans have been transferred to the VA Medical Center in Lexington.
Addressing the reporting backlog, State Public Health Commissioner Dr. Steven Stack said the Lexington-Fayette County Health Department, with assistance from the Kentucky Department for Public Health, has developed a way to enter Lexington’s COVID-19 cases into the state system. This will allow the state’s reported COVID-19 case numbers for Lexington to more closely align with Lexington’s cumulative case count.
“We are appreciative of the community’s understanding as we moved through this delay,” Dr. Stack said. “As previously stated, the delay only existed with data entry; there were no delays in contacting positive cases and close contacts in Lexington.”
Eric Friedlander, Secretary of the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, spoke Wednesday about Kentucky’s efforts to shore up childcare practitioners and facilities as they deal with the restrictions necessitated by the coronavirus pandemic.
“It’s been a difficult year for childcare,” he acknowledged. “The coronavirus closed all licensed, certified and registered facilities and impacted children, families and employees of these facilities as well as the owners of these businesses.”
Earlier this year, the Child Care Assistance Program was paid through enrollment. Programs that had to close due to COVID-19 were able to receive subsidy funds to support their program for staff salaries or fixed expenses.
With funding from the federal CARES Act, the Division of Child Care, a function of the Department for Community Based Services, offered every licensed, certified and registered child care program in the state a sustainment stipend of $225 per child based on the program’s total capacity, which is determined by the Division of Regulated Child Care.
“We’re happy to report that CHFS will make another one-time grant to licensed day cares and certified homes in the amount of $130 per child,” Secretary Friedlander announced.
The funding will help pay employee wages; facility mortgage or rent payments; facility utility payments; facility insurance payments; the childcare program’s obligated portion of employee benefit insurance; and food, personal protective equipment and cleaning materials.
For more key numbers, actions and other information from the Beshear administration on the response to the pandemic, go to kycovid19.ky.gov.
The governor’s last scheduled press briefing for this week takes place Thursday afternoon at 4.