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Governor preparing for COVID surge, says situation is ‘grim’

Gov. Andy Beshear said on Tuesday that Kentucky has begun surge preparations as a state, due to the continuing increase in cases of the coronavirus and saying the situation was “grim.”

During a press briefing from the Governor’s Mansion, where he and his family remains quarantined after a member of his security details tested positive for COVID-19 earlier this month, Beshear announced 1,312 new cases Tuesday. One-hundred forty-four of the new cases involved children 18 and under, bringing the pandemic total to 89,544.

Nearly one-quarter of Tuesday’s new cases, 324, were from Jefferson County. There were 47 in Fayette County, 45 in Laurel County, and 36 in both Boone and Nelson counties, rounding out the top five.

“Today’s COVID report has the fourth-highest ever total for positive new coronavirus cases,” Beshear said. “Yesterday, we had the highest Monday ever, this is the highest Tuesday ever. And it’s the highest by 258 cases. It’s not even close.”

Hospitalizations continued to rise in Kentucky on Tuesday, according to the Governor, with 776. “Those in ICU continue to go up. That’s up from 190 Monday. That is 12 more Kentuckians fighting for their lives. Currently on a ventilator, 96. That’s up from 89 Monday. And our positivity rate is now back over five percent, at 5.08%. That is the highest since August 25.”

“We are seeing virtually all of our numbers escalating at the same time, which tells us it’s real, and it tells us that it could surge in a way that is requiring us to make preparations as a state, and should require all of us as citizens to double down on our efforts. Let’s not wait until this gets worse than it is right now.”

Because of the escalation, Beshear said they have begun surge preparations again.

“That is something we did not have to do in the increase over the summer,” he stated, “but we are now going back to our plans about capacity in hospitals, looking if we have to add hotel options, and the use of state parks, ensuring that we have the operational plans to stand up a field hospital, if necessary, because our cases continue to go up, our hospitalization continues to go up, we continue to see more people in the ICU, and if we can’t get people to do the right thing, each and every day, I am concerned that we are going to experience a real surge that we must avoid.”

He noted that if what is being seen nationally continues, “it is really concerning. Because this time around it isn’t just in the South, or isn’t just in a pocket in the Midwest, it’s everywhere.”

The governor also announced there were 16 more COVID-related deaths on Tuesday, making it 1,342 Kentuckians who lost their lives to the coronavirus.

They include a 56-year-old woman from Bell County; a 73-year-old man from Boyd County; an 86-year-old woman from Daviess County; two women, ages 96 and 97, from Fayette County; an 82-year-old woman from Hopkins County; four women, ages 67, 74, 76, and 80, from Jefferson County; a 92-year-old woman and three men, ages 64, 94 and 96, from Jessamine County; an 89-year-old man from Marshall County; and a 78-year-old man from Muhlenberg County.

Gov. Beshear’s next press briefing will be Wednesday at 4 p.. on his YouTube and Facebook pages, due to his quarantine.