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The Bowling Green COVID-19 testing site at South Warren High School begins administering tests to visitors as they drive through the parking lot of the school's Athletic Complex on Tuesday, April 28, 2020. (Grace Ramey/photo@bgdailynews.com)

As coronavirus cases spiked last week across the state and nation, Warren County also saw its highest weekly total of new cases to date.

The Barren River District Health Department confirmed 278 new cases last week ending Friday – 64 of which were announced Wednesday, the highest single-day increase yet.

The previous highest weekly increase was the week of May 18 with 216 cases. The previous record daily increase was 46 cases May 14.

In April, Gov. Andy Beshear dubbed Warren County a “hot spot” for the virus, and that trend continued through May. On Wednesday, Beshear said the current surge in Warren County is “the most pronounced” in Kentucky, but that similar outbreaks are being seen throughout the state.

Beshear confirmed 797 new cases Friday, the state’s second-highest daily increase, bringing the total statewide to 25,931. He also reported a 5.28 percent positivity rate – which he said the White House deems a “danger zone” – and recommends taking additional steps to combat the spread.

Over the past two weeks, Kentucky has seen an uptick in the frequency of days with between 500 and 700 new cases. The previous average was about 200 to 400 new daily cases.

Unless there is a “stabilization or at least a decrease” in new cases this week, Beshear said the state will have to take more action. Among the possible responses are recommending schools delay reopening and implementing the White House’s surge guidance to reduce restaurant capacity to 25 percent and close bars.

During a phone call with the Kentucky Council of Churches, Beshear recommended virtual or drive-up services over the next two weeks.

“A real concern that we’re seeing – and almost a trend – where somebody goes on vacation, brings it back from the beach and then goes to church, and we see a spread through that church,” he said.

Beshear also announced that Kentucky will extend its contract with accounting firm Ernst and Young for five weeks. The company was hired in late June to help process a large backlog of unemployment claims. The contract was set to end Sunday.

Beshear was asked why Kentucky paid the company $7.6 million for the current contract, which is almost five times more than the $1.6 million Colorado paid for similar services.

Beshear said the number and types of claims, along with the timeline to process them, was “more aggressive” than in Colorado. He added that Kentucky hired three times more workers, while Colorado had “mostly” temporary workers.

Beshear was unable to give an exact number of remaining unresolved claims and said a representative from the Office of Unemployment Insurance will provide an update next week.

Coronavirus statistics

The statewide virus-related death toll rose to 691, with seven new deaths confirmed Friday.

Beshear also said at least 574,233 tests have been performed, at least 7,936 people have recovered, and 618 are currently hospitalized, 130 of whom are in intensive care.

The Barren River Area Development District’s COVID-19 Dashboard, which uses state health department data, showed 3,522 confirmed cases, including 2,146 in Warren, 286 in Logan and Butler, 233 in Barren, 206 in Allen, 118 in Simpson, 87 in Edmonson, 72 in Monroe, 67 in Hart, and 21 in Metcalfe. Of the 3,167 cases, 2,391 have reportedly recovered.

The Barren River District Health Department announced 3,239 total cases in its area, including 2,142 in Warren, 289 in Logan, 280 in Butler, 223 in Barren, 119 in Simpson, 86 in Edmonson, 76 in Hart and 24 in Metcalfe. Of the 3,239 cases, 2,414 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 the latest update Thursday from the Allen County Health Department, which is not part of the Barren River district.

Some daily totals may shift due to 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.

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