During Tuesday's COVID briefing, Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear reported the state had hit a record number of coronavirus deaths: 33 in 24 hours. Those who died ranged in age from 36 to 99.
This time last week, there were 14 new deaths.
As of 4 p.m. Nov. 17, Kentucky was reporting 2,931 new cases, with 1,521 currently hospitalized — up 79 people since yesterday — and 354 in the ICU. The state's positivity rate is 9.10%.
"Today's COVID report shows that this crush of cases is not letting up," Beshear said. "Today we're announcing our third highest day of COVID cases and our highest Tuesday."
The highest day was Nov. 14; the second highest was Nov. 13.
The counties with highest case load, as of Tuesday, included Northern Kentucky's Boone and Kenton counties.
"The house is on fire at this point," said Gov. Beshear. "And we need everybody not to close their eyes, close their ears and sit in the house while it burns down on them. We need everybody to join the bucket brigade."
Beshear said the current crush is even overwhelming the state's contact tracers.
Judy Mattingly, Franklin County Public Health Director, said during the briefing, "At this point, it is becoming impossible for our local health departments to call each and every one of these contacts in a timely fashion, which is necessary for contact tracing to be effective."
And there's concern it will soon overwhelm hospital workers.
“Our COVID-19 ICU patients range from 32 years old to 90 years old,” said Pikeville Medical Center CEO Donovan Blackburn. “With 83 COVID-19 patients and climbing, we — like other hospitals in the state and region — are nearing our capacity. We are also at risk of shutting down other vital services. So that we do not overburden our hospitals and health care workers, I urge all Kentuckians to please take this seriously and mask up.”
New restrictions are expected to be announced on Wednesday to help slow the spread. But Beshear said "it's not going to look like March."
He said the restrictions will be more targeted, but "we've got to stop this so we're going to do enough to stop it."
Dr. Steven Stack, commissioner of the Kentucky Department for Public Health, said that COVID is expected to be America's third leading cause of death in this year, behind heart disease and cancer.