Kentucky Issues a Travel Advisory as Gov. Beshear Rolls Back Limit on Social Mass Gatherings

Based on new recommendations, Kentuckians who have traveled to states with a 15% or higher COVID-19 positivity rate should self-quarantine for 14 days. And a new order limits social gatherings to 10.

click to enlarge Kentucky Issues a Travel Advisory as Gov. Beshear Rolls Back Limit on Social Mass Gatherings
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After Kentucky saw its highest single day total of new confirmed coronavirus cases on Sunday — 979 — Gov. Andy Beshear and Commissioner of the Kentucky Department for Public Health Dr. Steven Stack have issued some new, and old, guidance for the state.

“The virus is spreading out there. It’s spreading significantly. We must make sure that we take the steps to keep ourselves safe, our families safe and each other safe. Any concept that there’s just more testing out there and the virus is still in the same place is absolutely and categorically false,” said Beshear. “A fact’s a fact. Twitter can’t change that. Make sure that you know where we are right now so we can adopt what we need to get through.”

The state has issued a travel advisory — not a ban — recommending that those who travel to Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Nevada, South Carolina and Texas self-quarantine for 14 days when they return home. These eight states were called out based on having a positivity rate (or the percent of COVID tests that come back as positive for having the virus) of greater than 15% according to data from Johns Hopkins University. The advisory also includes warnings for Mississippi and Puerto Rico.

“I am appealing to Kentuckians who have traveled to these states or to Puerto Rico to consider the interest of your health and the health of others. Please, if you have been to any of these places, stay home for 14 days, starting from the date you left that location,” said Dr. Stack.

You can read details of how they suggest you quarantine at kentucky.gov.

In addition to the case total, Kentucky has also seen its rolling seven-day positivity rate climb from 2% in mid-March to 4% recently, showing an exponential growth.

“Sunday was a wake-up call. Sunday was a warning. It’s a shot across the bow," said Dr. Stack. "Our fate is collectively in Team Kentucky’s hands, whether we can adopt a simple measure like wearing a mask. If we don’t take some strong action, people will see how bad things can get in Kentucky, and believe me, we don’t want to get there."

As of 4 p.m. Monday, July 20, Beshear said there were at least 23,414 coronavirus cases in Kentucky, 258 of which were newly reported, with eight cases in children ages 5 and younger — adding to the 30 cases in children reported on Sunday.

To contain the spread at home, Beshear and the Cabinet for Health and Family Services have rolled back guidance on social, non-commercial gatherings and issued a new order that limits those gatherings to 10 people; previously, gatherings had been expanded to allow 50 people as of June 29.

The limit, which went into effect Monday at 5 p.m., does not apply to weddings, retail, restaurants or other public venues — strictly social and family events. 

“We’re seeing clusters created by our backyard barbecues, our block parties, and it’s because we let our guard down. We have a lot of friends over and we know them. We figure they’re probably doing everything right,” said Beshear. “We take off our masks, we relax, we get too close, we stand around while people are grilling and we’re seeing some very difficult outcomes because of it. So much depends on us trying to stop this thing before it gets out of control.”

You can read the order at governor.ky.gov, but it basically requires that people not of the same household still maintain social distance at gatherings, wear face masks indoors, regularly disinfect high-touch surfaces and hold events outdoors when possible.

Beshear also said he spoke with White House officials and Vice President Mike Pence Monday and that the suggestion was that areas seeing major surges would be required to place restrictions on businesses again.

“Today was the call that the White House does that the Vice President handles, and he talked about the steps they believe are necessary for areas that are hit really hard. Those include reducing restaurant capacity to 25% and closing bars. I remember how many of our restaurants can’t operate even at 33%,” Beshear said. “I want to make sure we don’t hit that surge that we have seen in other places so we don’t have to adopt those White House suggestions. One facility doing the wrong thing can hurt everyone else.”

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