Gov. Beshear Issues New Safety Recommendations (and Restrictions) for Red Kentucky Counties

Due to an ever-increasing number of record-setting days for confirmed COVID cases in Kentucky, Gov. Andy Beshear has issued a series of new "red zone reduction recommendations" to help counties get their infection rates under control.

click to enlarge Gov. Andy Beshear - Photo: YouTube screengrab
Photo: YouTube screengrab
Gov. Andy Beshear

Due to an ever-increasing number of record-setting days for confirmed COVID cases in Kentucky, Gov. Andy Beshear has issued a series of new "red zone reduction recommendations" to help counties get their infection rates under control.

During today's press briefing, Beshear said Kentucky just had its highest Friday, Saturday and Sundays ever — in a row — followed by the highest Monday ever. Today, there were 953 new cases of COVID-19 reported, 858 are hospitalized and 253 are in the ICU. The current positivity rate (or the percentage of those who take a COVID test that test positive) is 5.84%.

"Nationally, we are seeing hospitalizations start to significantly increase again. Remember, that while we're getting better and better and better at treating it, a certain percentage of these all-time-high cases in America end up in the hospital, end up in the ICU, and end up passing away," Beshear said. "The more overall cases, the more people we lose."

According to the current COVID incidence rate report, there are more than 50 red counties in Kentucky. Being marked as "red" on the incidence map means that a county is seeing 25 or more confirmed COVID cases per 100,000 residents. (Northern Kentucky counties including Boone, Kenton and Campbell are marked as orange, meaning they are seeing an acceleration in cases but only 10-25 cases per 100,000 people.)

click to enlarge Gov. Beshear Issues New Safety Recommendations (and Restrictions) for Red Kentucky Counties
Photo: kycovid19.ky.gov

While Beshear enumerated the current restrictions and guidance in place to help control the virus, he said more steps need to be taken.

click to enlarge Gov. Beshear Issues New Safety Recommendations (and Restrictions) for Red Kentucky Counties
Photo: YouTube screengrab

"I'm going to level with you: If more people would follow these restrictions, we wouldn't need to take additional steps," he said.

Beshear blamed less compliance on fatigue and what he called "a cultural war that somehow sprang up around what keeps you alive and keeps people around you alive." And said there are two reasons for the new red county recommendations.

"No. 1, we have a duty as a community when things are out of hand to get them back under control," he said. "But the second reason we're making these is to protect individuals who rightly recognize how dangerous this virus is."

He is asking communities to check the incidence map at kycovid19.ky.gov each Thursday afternoon to see if a county has gone red. If it has, in addition to current recommendations — like asking schools to go virtual and sports to cease — Beshear has nine new red recommendations.

  • Employers allow employees to work from home when possible
  • Non-critical government offices to operate virtually 
  • Reduce in-person shopping, order online or curbside pick-up
  • Order take-out; avoid dining in restaurants or bars
  • Prioritize businesses that follow and enforce mask mandate and other guidelines
  • Reschedule, postpone or cancel public and private events
  • Do not host or attend gatherings of any size
  • Avoid non-essential activities outside of your home
  • Reduce overall activity and contacts, and follow existing guidance, including 10 steps to defeat COVID-19

These recommendations would take effect starting the week after a county goes red — on Monday — and continue for the rest of that week. Note: These are not mandates, Beshear said, just putting personal responsibility and ownership on the individual to help control the spread.

"If everybody in a community follows these recommendations, they are less likely to contract the virus and we believe — in a week — if people are strong about this, and the community comes together to do it, that you will come out of the red in that week, or at most, the next one," he said.

He also told those people who refuse to wear a mask (and are jerks about it to other people who are following COVID guidance) to talk to their minister and read their Bibles.

"Wearing a mask isn't a statement about your own personal freedom, it's about how much you care about somebody else," he said.

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