We are posting the updates from Governor Beshear as a service to our readers, along with the full video of the press conference. The summary comes from the KY Health News site, and the video is straight from YouTube. The summary includes both points from the Beshear press conference and news items related to those bullets.
Summary from KY Health News (original post)
Gov. Andy Beshear announced record numbers for almost every metric the state uses to measure the coronavirus pandemic Tuesday, calling it “a terrible day.”
Written by Melissa Patrick of Kentucky Health News
“No way to sugarcoat it,” Beshear said at his daily briefing. “Today is the very worst day that we have had for reporting on the spread of the coronavirus and it is the deadliest day that we have had. This is exponential growth. … If we don’t all do our part, if we try to be the exception, then slowing down this thing won’t work and we will lose a lot more Kentuckians we love and care about.”
Beshear announced record highs for new coronavirus cases, COVID-19 deaths, hospitalizations, patients in intensive care and on ventilators, and the highest percentage of Kentuckians testing positive for the virus since the testing became widely available in May: 9.59%.
The governor reported 4,151 new cases of the virus, well beyond the previous record of 3,870, set on Thanksgiving.
The new record of 35 deaths brought the state’s COVID-19 death toll to 1,943. The previous single-day high was 33, set Nov. 17.
The number of COVID-19 patients in Kentucky hospitals hit a high of 1,777, with 441 in intensive care and 241 of those on a ventilator. And while COVID-19 patients’ share of beds in the state’s hospitals remained the same as Monday, 21%, their percentage of ICU beds increased to 32%, from 30%, and their share on ventilators increased to 41% from 38%.
“COVID is spreading like wildfire, taking record numbers of people from us, infecting record numbers of people out there,” Beshear said. “That’s why we’re fighting back. That’s why we’re trying to be aggressive and not wait for it to overwhelm us, but to try to stem this third wave just like we stopped the first two and not surrender and accept unacceptable fatalities.”
Restrictions: On Nov. 18, Beshear imposed new limits, including bans on in-person schooling and indoor service in bars and restaurants, and tighter numerical limits on at-home social gatherings. All have been controversial.
“We do believe right now that the steps that we’ve taken are absolutely necessary,” Beshear said. “And maybe today’s report will convince those out there who disagree. … Today is a terrible day that shows us how quickly this thing is spreading. It shows why it is so important to take steps to stop it before it gets any worse.”
Asked why he is allowing elementary schools outside counties with the highest range of infections to reopen next Monday, Dec. 7, but keeping middle and high schools closed until Jan. 4, Beshear said evidence shows less virus spread among elementary students, and in-person learning is more important for them.
As for the Dec. 7 reopening, he said, “Our hope is that we have tamped down the virus by that point to where there’s significant opportunity out there. But right now, we don’t see that changing.”
Contact tracing: Mark Carter, head of the state’s contact-tracing program, said it has shifted to a focus on mitigation instead of containment because the virus is so widespread. He said tracers are are only contacting patients who test positive, and instructing them to inform their close contacts.
“We’re being overwhelmed in terms of our disease investigation and contact tracing efforts,” Carter said. “I think that is in part because we haven’t had the level of compliance that we need to have with public health recommendations around masking and social distancing, and so forth.
“But we can turn that around, we can make a difference with that by taking our individual personal responsibility to heart knowing that we’re protecting our loved ones and friends and family and, and we’re just being good citizens. And we can turn that around.”
Seniors: Community spread is also taking a toll on nursing homes. The state reported 2,251 active cases among residents and 1,193 among staff, with 173 new resident cases and 109 new staff cases reported today. Beshear said at least 57 long-term-care facilities have 15 or more active cases. Nursing home residents and staff have accounted for 65% of the state’s COVID-19 deaths.
“Our community response isn’t where it needs to be,” Beshear said. “Whether or not people in long-term-care facilities get COVID is about what we do in our daily lives, the decisions we make, and whether or not we do what it takes to prevent it from spreading to those around us.”
Beshear reported that another veteran at the state’s Thomson-Hood Veterans Center in Wilmore, who was previously listed as recovered, had died, bringing the center’s death toll from the virus to 31. He said there are currently two active cases in the center and no new cases have been reported for 18 days.
He also announced that the veteran who was the first active case at Western Kentucky Veterans Center in Hanson had died. In addition, he said a 37-year-old inmate from the Lee Adjustment Center, a privately operated state prison, had died from COVID-19.
Funding: Both Carter and Beshear made urgent pleas for more federal money.
“Essentially all of our disease investigation and contact-tracing effort across the commonwealth has been funded by the federal CARES Act,” Carter said. “We’re required to have spent that funding by December 30. We desperately need either an extension of that date or additional funding, or both, in order to take this program into 2021 and get us through the months that we need to get through ’til we reach the point where we have a widely available vaccine.”
Speaking more broadly, Beshear said that without any more federal relief funds there won’t be any additional relief for restaurants and bars, for additional unemployment aid, for local governments, for eviction relief, or for contact tracing and the state’s testing efforts: “Everything stops at the end of December unless we get a new act of Congress.”
A bipartisan group of lawmakers outlined a $908 billion relief proposal Tuesday as an attempt to jump-start negotiations so that they can pass relief before the holidays, Andrea Noble reports for Route Fifty. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said there was “no reason” that Congress can’t pass one by the end of the year, the Lexington Herald-Leader reports.
Beshear honored the life of Bruce Gadansky, who died of COVID-19 at the age of 76, leaving behind his wife Mickey, two sons, and five grandchildren.
“As Bruce passed on, his wife and son were left to say their goodbyes, urge him on to a better tomorrow, through a phone held to his ear by a nurse,” said Beshear. “That is what COVID does to our loved ones.”
Beshear said Gadansky was a U.S. Navy veteran who served in Vietnam, was a deputy sheriff in Oldham County for 10 years, and championed causes for the elderly during his time as vice-president of operations for the Louisville Better Business Bureau. He had also been a volunteer for St. Matthews Baseball.
“What we must stress here is that Bruce and Mickey tried to do it all right,” Beshear said. “They barely left the house in nine months and they always wore a mask. But that’s the thing about masks – it takes all of us wearing them correctly to protect one another. If we do, we can prevent the loss of individuals like Bruce, and the heartbreak of his family who is now mourning.”
In other COVID-19 news Tuesday:
- Tuesday’s deaths were a 70-year-old Boyd County man; a 75-year-old Calloway County man; an 82-year-old Christian County man; a 96-year-old Daviess County woman; a 95-year-old Graves County woman; two women, 79 and 86, and two men, 57 and 66, from Grayson County; a 93-year-old Henderson County woman; an 87-year-old Hopkins County man; six women, 61, 64, 76, 77, 77 and 80, and seven men, ages 62, 64, 64, 66, 72, 73 and 94, from Jefferson County; a 62-year-old Jessamine County woman; a 76-year-old Kenton County man; a 79-year-old Marshall County woman; a 66-year-old Mason County woman; two men, 59 and 64, from McCracken County; a woman, 88, and a man, 64, from Monroe County; a 65-year-old Montgomery County man; a 93-year-old Robertson County woman; and an 82-year-old Union County man.
- Counties with 10 or more new cases were: Jefferson, 700; Fayette, 238; McCracken, 172; Warren, 148; Kenton, 126; Hardin, 120; Daviess, 119; Boone, 102; Madison, 97; Laurel, 89; Oldham, 80; Campbell, 73; Christian, 72; Hopkins, 67; Marion, 62; Bullitt, 61; Lincoln, 56; Nelson, 55; Hart, 54; Pike, 51; Montgomery, 50; Carter and Clay, 49; Barren and Graves, 48; Pulaski, 44; Greenup, 41; Magoffin, 39; Marshall, 38; Rowan and Woodford, 36; Whitley, 35; Jessamine, 34; Boyle, 32; Floyd, 31; Ohio, 30; Bell and Henderson, 29; Franklin, 28; Knox and Washington, 27; Clark, Johnson and Logan, 26; Harlan, 25; Anderson, Boyd, Mercer, Rockcastle and Taylor, 23; Lawrence, 22; Garrard, 21; Adair and Scott, 20; Calloway, 18; Grant, Larue and Simpson, 17; Monroe, Perry and Shelby, 16; Bracken and Jackson, 15; Edmonson, Muhlenberg and Pendleton, 14; Grayson and Harrison, 13; Livingston and Mason, 11; and Butler, Letcher, Martin, Union and Wayne, 10.
- Beshear said 2,650 restaurants and bars have applied for the Food and Beverage Relief Fund, for a total of $25.6 million in assistance. The state has already approved applications for $1.7 million. To apply, click here. Beshear said he expects bars and restaurants will be able to resume indoor service on Dec. 14 as planned.
- As cases continue to surge in Kentucky, Beshear encouraged Kentuckians to get tested. Click here to find a location near you.
- The Healthy at Home Utility Relief Fund still has about $11 million in it that must be dolled out before Dec. 30. “Eligible households can receive a one-time $500 benefit towards their water and or wastewater bills and $400 towards their natural gas or utility bills,” said Beshear. Households who have an income up to 200% of the federal poverty line and have been economically impacted due by COVID-19 can apply through their local Community Action office. Click here to find your local office, as well as a list of required documentation, or call 800-456-3452.
- Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Stephen Hahn told McClatchy Newspapers on Tuesday that the FDA will not automatically authorize emergency use of coronavirus vaccines before completing a rigorous independent review. “The urgency of the situation is a pressure that I think is substantial on all of us,” he said in the phone interview. “Our career staff recognize that and are working with great speed. But also we’ve maintained a commitment to using data and science, and we will continue to do that.”
- The coronavirus may have been spreading in America as early as December 2019, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study that found coronavirus antibodies in 106 of the 7,389 blood samples from routine blood donations to the American Red Cross between Dec. 13, 2019 and Jan. 17, 2020, the Herald-Leader reports. However, the researchers also said they wondered if the detection of antibodies in these samples indicates a past coronavirus infection, or that of another pathogen in the coronavirus family, such as the common cold. They also say “widespread community transmission was not likely until late February.”
- In a decision released Monday, Attorney General Daniel Cameron said Kentuckians who report people or businesses to the state for failing to comply with its pandemic restrictions should not be granted anonymity, John Cheves reports for the Herald-Leader. The ruling was made against the Labor Cabinet in an appeal under the state Open Records Act. “In a letter to Cameron, the cabinet warned that publicly identifying tipsters ‘will have a chilling effect on citizens’ good-faith reporting of non-compliance with public health orders,’ especially if their names are posted online by Beshear’s critics,” Cheves writes. (Editor’s note: Analysis of this decision by Amye Bensenhaver in this article.)
- Dalton Godbey of Louisville’s WDRB looks at why state and local coronavirus and COVID-19 statistics don’t always match up.
- The director of the Laurel County Health Department told Phil Pendleton of WYMT that he expects a surge of coronavirus cases in mid-December. Health leaders told him most of their contact tracing points to the virus being spread in household gatherings.
Video of Beshear 12/1 press conference
Note: Presser begins at about the 2:40 mark.