Following Kentucky’s highest single-day total of COVID-19 cases, Gov. Andy Beshear said Monday changes are needed in the state to work to avoid a surge in cases.
On Sunday, Kentucky reported 979 new cases of the coronavirus.
Despite the fact that the numbers fell to 258 new cases on Monday, Beshear said the state cannot ignore the increased cases seen Sunday and stated they serve as a wake-up call that additional steps need to be taken.
First, the governor said, is to address the number one “cluster causer” in recent weeks, which he said is travel, highlighting many of the cases coming from groups going on the beach and vacationing to other states.
To address this, Beshear said Kentuckians will now need to abide by a recommendation to self-quarantine for 14 days after any individual travels to a state that has a testing positivity rate of more than 15 percent. States with those types of statistics include Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Arizona, Texas, Mississippi, Nevada, and Idaho.
Kentucky Public Health Commissioner Steven Stack said the travel measure is a recommendation so it is “at some level” up to the individual to abide by it or not but he hopes to see people inspired to do the right thing to stop a surge.
Secondly, the Beshear administration said group gatherings are also now being reduced back down to 10 people in a social gathering from 50 people. The governor pointed to backyard barbeques and other large gatherings and stated it is contributing to increased numbers of cases. Stack pointed to the notion that informal gatherings with friends and family are when people are most likely to let their guard down and get close with individuals they are comfortable with. “The larger the gathering of people, the more likely one person infected will spread it to many others,” Stack said.
Beshear said the mandate does not apply to weddings and venues because they have staff and the ability to clean and sanitize.
These two new guidelines come after a challenge to Beshear’s executive-order power went back and forth in court last week. The Kentucky Supreme Court indicated it will rule on the issue at a later date.
Along with the changes at the state level announced Monday, the governor said the White House is recommending items like facial coverings, reducing restaurant capacity to 25 percent in hard-hit areas, and closing bars for states seeing large surges. Beshear said Kentucky is not there yet and he would like to ensure Kentucky doesn’t see the need to take the steps around restaurants and bars as he knows many of the state’s restaurants can’t operate at that capacity.
Beshear will continue to hold press briefings every day this week. Stay tuned to The Bottom Line for more updates.