Gov. Andy Beshear said Thursday he may recommend schools delay reopening if the recent escalation in coronavirus cases continues.
“If we don’t see a stabilization, at least by early next week, I’m likely to make a recommendation that if you’re (reopening in) early, early August, that you push back a little bit, and give us time to see if we can get it under control,” Beshear said during a news conference in Frankfort.
Virus cases have been climbing in the state, and record numbers of new cases have been announced during the past two weeks.
This week, more than 60 children under age 5 in Kentucky have reportedly tested positive for the virus. As of Thursday, Beshear said 25 children and 31 staff at 36 child care facilities in the state have tested positive.
Kentucky’s two largest school districts, in Jefferson County and Fayette County, have both opted to begin the year with distance learning.
“I would not ask a teacher to (return to school) today … where we are right now,” Beshear said.
President Donald Trump also said Thursday that some schools may need to push back their start date if cases continue to spike, and that the decision will be up to governors. The president had previously urged schools to fully reopen.
If Kentucky continues to see 600 to 900 daily new cases next week, Beshear said “we will have to look at doing” bar closures and reducing restaurant capacity by 25%, as recommended by the White House Surge Response.
On Thursday, the governor announced 611 new cases, the state’s fourth-highest daily increase since the pandemic started, bringing the statewide total to 25,147.
Also during his news conference, Beshear was asked about 26 false positive coronavirus tests reportedly because of a software flaw at UK Healthcare.
“That was 26 out of 30,000 tests,” he said.
“We believe numbers are generally reliable and the error rate is very low,” the governor said.
A reporter also asked about sending the National Guard to Louisville this weekend amid planned protests over police brutality and racism sparked by recent police-involved killings of Black Americans.
“The National Guard will not be out … and hasn’t been requested,” Beshear said.
When the governor deployed the National Guard to Louisville during protests in June, a Guard member fatally shot business owner David McAtee, a Black man. Officials said McAtee shot at law enforcement first, prompting return fire.
The statewide virus-related death toll rose to 684, with seven new deaths announced by Beshear on Thursday.
He also said at least 565,490 tests have been performed, and the positivity rate is 4.94%.
At least 7,046 people have recovered, and 581 are currently hospitalized, 135 of whom are in intensive care.
The Barren River Area Development District’s COVID-19 Dashboard, which uses state health department data, showed 3,446 confirmed cases including 2,105 in Warren, 284 in Butler, 282 in Logan, 218 in Barren, 205 in Allen, 115 in Simpson, 86 in Edmonson, 70 in Monroe, 61 in Hart, and 20 in Metcalfe.
The Barren River District Health Department announced 3,167 total cases in its area, including 2,094 in Warren, 287 in Logan, 279 in Butler, 214 in Barren, 115 in Simpson, 86 in Edmonson, 72 in Hart and 20 in Metcalfe. Of the 3,167 cases, 2,391 have reportedly recovered. The department has reported 78 deaths to date, including 21 in both Logan and Warren, 15 in Butler, 12 in Edmonson, five in Simpson, and two in both Barren and Metcalfe.
There are at least 202 confirmed cases in Allen County, according to an update Thursday from the Allen County Health Department, which is not part of the Barren River district.
Some daily totals may shift because of data being reported incorrectly. Additionally, numbers often differ between the state and local sources because of different reporting methods.
– Follow multimedia journalist Emily Zantow on Twitter @EmilyZantowNews or visit bgdailynews.com.