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'We Let Our Guard Down.' Kentucky Gatherings Back To 10, New Travel Advisory Issued

Karyn Czar

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear is issuing a new travel advisory and reinstating former restrictions on social gatherings.

With COVID cases accelerating in the commonwealth and in numerous hot spots across the United States, Beshear announced the state is taking action to curb two of the leading coronavirus spreaders that are causing clusters: travel to hard-hit states and lax social get-togethers.

The first step the governor unveiled was an advisory recommending anyone returning from states with at least a 15 percent positivity rate, including popular vacation destinations such as Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina, self-quarantine for two weeks.

"These are like going to a nuclear waste zone as far as how intense the infection is spreading," Kentucky Public Health Commissioner Dr. Steven Stack explained. "It's not a real good idea to go there."

The second step is a mandatory reduction in the size of social gatherings, taking the current limit of 50 people or fewer back to the previous maximum of 10.

"It's because we let our guard down," the governor said. "We have a lot of friends over, we know them, we figure they're probably doing everything right... we relax, we get too close."

If new infections aren't brought under control in roughly 10-20 days, the governor indicated widespread rollbacks of capacity limits will be back on the table. White House recommendations for states with dramatic surges include mandatory face coverings, 25 percent restaurant capacity, and the closure of bars. Beshear said Kentucky is "not there yet," but future actions will depend on the numbers.

During Monday's update, the governor also revealed that an individual or individuals began "secretly and covertly" taking pictures of his son at baseball games and spreading them online about two weeks ago.

"I know when people try to post pictures of my kids, what they're really trying to tell me is we know where you are, we can get to you," Beshear said, pausing to stay collected. "But again, I am not going to be bullied by you."

In closing, the governor pleaded with Kentuckians to return to the positive spirit shown during the early days of the pandemic by taking the steps necessary to stop the increase before it gets out of control.

Other news:

  • Taking issue with the argument that the state's increase in cases is due solely to expanded testing, the governor displayed a graph, corrected for the number of tests, showing the positivity rate climbing. Beshear labeled the increased testing explanation as "absolutely and categorically wrong."
  • The state reported 258 new cases Monday, a day when results are typically artifically low, sometimes in the double digits, due to fewer labs reporting.
  • For now, hospital, ICU, and ventilator capacity remains adequate, but the state can reopen its field hospital in Louisville in about a week's time if needed. State park locations can also be used to house those needing less care.
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