Kentucky crossed a COVID-19 threshold Wednesday, exceeding 1,000 deaths attributed to the virus. Gov. Andy Beshear is urging residents to use the news as a chance to reflect and reassess.
"Compared to most states we've done well, but lives are on the line," Beshear said, at times choking up as he read aloud the day's report. "Too many of them have been lost. We absolutely have to do better."
In a somber press conference, the governor both praised the work Kentuckians have done to limit coronavirus casualties and worried aloud that residents' resolve is waning. To mark the milestone, and in lieu of his typical update, Beshear will give a formal address Thursday revisiting milestones in the state's journey through the pandemic and calling on listeners to recommit. A wreath-laying ceremony is also scheduled in the Capitol and flags will be lowered to half staff for a week in honor of those lost.
The observances come as the state faces continuing challenges - prepping for a rollout of additional unemployment benefits, weighing a special legislative session, and monitoring increasing COVID-19 cases at universities. On that last question, Beshear said schools need to come up with benchmarks for when to switch strategy.
"I do think we really ought to continue to think, as we watch what happens, whether or not our expectations that we set for students are reasonable," he added.
Kentucky reported 16 new deaths Wednesday along with 667 new cases. One positive note in the day's data was the state-measured positivity rate, which has dipped in recent reports. Wednesday's rate was 3.8 percent.
Cases in Children
The commonwealth is one of six states witnessing the highest increases, however, in the number of children diagnosed with COVID-19. More than half a million children in the U.S. have tested positive.
An American Academy of Pediatrics report found that youth cases rose by roughly 16 percent between August 20 and September 3rd - with hotspots in Kentucky, Indiana, Missouri, Montana, and North and South Dakota. The pediatric cases represent close to 10 percent of the overall cases in the U.S.
While children are known to weather the virus much better than people in other age groups, concerns remain about their ability to spread the coronavirus and a rare but serious inflammatory condition linked to COVID. Kentucky Public Health Commissioner Dr. Steven Stack said the complication is a delayed response.
"If that's going to become a bigger problem in Kentucky, we'll see that probably some time in October or November, not right away here at the beginning of September," he explained.
The academy is recommending that every child over 6 months receive a flu shot by the end of October to avoid what the group called a "twindemic" of influenza and the coronavirus.
- The governor declined to weigh in on reports that Attorney General Daniel Cameron, who has sued to roll back the state's coronavirus regulations, is on a revised list of possible nominees for the U.S. Supreme Court.
- Asked about reporting in Bob Woodward's new book that President Donald Trump knew early on of the seriousness of the coronavirus threat and chose to downplay it, Beshear said he had not read it and is not in a place to comment. He said his office has had a "good working relationship" with the administration.
- An announcement about the extra $400 unemployment benefit is expected late this week or early next week.
- Reagrding calls for a special session, Beshear heard from Kentucky Black Legislative Caucus Tuesday and agrees there needs to be possibility of real change, not “window dressing.”