Governor to announce new restrictions today

Gov. Andy Beshear is set to announce a new round of restrictions this afternoon in the face of rapidly increasing numbers of COVID-19 cases across the Commonwealth.

Judge Executive Todd Ruckel met with the governor by video conference this morning along with other community leaders from across the state to be briefed on the explosive growth in positive cases of COVID-19.

Ruckel said the information provided in the briefing was based on what is known about the virus and what steps could be taken to help flatten the curve.

“It is a dire situation in Kentucky and across the country,” Ruckel said. “We must take action now to stop the rapid spread of this virus.”

This graph shows recent exponential growth in the number of COVID-19 cases in Kentucky.

Ruckel said Kentucky Public Health Commissioner Dr. Steven Stack reviewed statistics and showed that if the growth of positive cases continues at the current pace that medical facilities will be overwhelmed in a short time.

He said there are concerns that the Thanksgiving holiday will contribute to the accelerated growth unless immediate steps are taken to curb the potential to spread the virus through family gatherings.

“Our trusted health officials are genuinely concerned that Thanksgiving could be a superspreader event for COVID,” Ruckel said. “I am asking our residents to consider the health of their family members as they plan their holiday activities.”

Ruckel said he and wife Sandy will forgo the traditional Thanksgiving ritual and enjoy the company of only their immediate family.

“At this point everyone knows someone who has contracted COVID and has been adversely affected by it,” he said. “It isn’t worth the risk.”

Ruckel said that at the beginning of the pandemic, officials were unsure of steps to implement but much more is now known about the virus.

“I have had close friends and family members who have been directly affected by this virus,” Ruckel said. “I realize the impact it has had and the implications if we do not act now.”

“We must take the necessary steps to flatten the curve,” he said. “Those steps may not be pleasant, but they are crucial in saving lives.”

Ruckel said among the statistics reviewed for the officials by Dr. Stack was the fact that since the first COVID-19 related death earlier this year, it has already become the third leading cause of death in the US.

He adds that with the volume of cases health officials are managing, they are unable to provide contact tracing.

“If you are infected with COVID, it is your responsibility to notify your own contacts and inform them,” Ruckel said.

As of Tuesday, Lewis County has 459 confirmed cases of COVID-19 with 66 of those now active. There have been 53 new local cases in the past week.

White House recommendations state that efforts must be increased to flatten the curve and that all Kentuckians need to do their part to stop the spread.

Ruckel cited a White House report that states “current mitigation efforts are inadequate and must be increased to flatten the curve to sustain the health system for both COVID and non-COVID emergencies.”

During his Tuesday press conference, Gov. Beshear said the Commonwealth had its “deadliest day” of the pandemic with 33 COVID-related deaths.

He also reported 2,931 new cases Tuesday and a positivity rate of 9.1 percent.

“It is time to get control of this beast. And I refuse to stand by and watch avoidable loss around us,” Beshear said Tuesday. “We’re at war, and there are some, right now, who want to surrender and accept fatalities. I’m not that type of governor. I’m not going to be that type of leader.”

Lewis County is among 106 of the Kentucky’s 120 counties listed in the red zone. This is the third consecutive week for that classification here.

The three highest days of newly confirmed cases in Kentucky have been reported in the past week. The daily record of 3,303 new cases was set on Saturday.

Gov. Beshear said Tuesday that the plan he will announce this afternoon will be more targeted but stopped short of elaborating.

He did say the plan does not include a general curfew such as will go into effect in Ohio on Thursday.

He also said the plan revealed this afternoon will not be all recommendations.

The governor said he will be addressing legislators and special interest groups prior to today’s 4:00 p.m. press briefing.

The briefing will be carried live on WKKS-FM and on Gov. Beshear’s Facebook Page.

Note: The Lewis County Herald has removed the paywall on coverage of COVID-19 related stories, providing critical information to our readers.
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