The two new coronavirus cases announced Wednesday by the Barren River District Health Department is Warren County’s smallest day-to-day increase since early May.
The previous smallest daily increase was May 5, when officials announced seven new cases. There had not been a two-case increase reported since April 9.
In late April, Gov. Andy Beshear called Warren County a “hot spot” for virus cases on the same day the first test site opened in the county. Since then, numerous test sites have opened and, as of Sunday, at least 10.4 percent of Warren County’s population of roughly 130,000 people has been tested, according to information provided by Warren County Emergency Management.
The two new cases in Warren County were among just four total new cases announced Wednesday in the health department’s eight-county district, one of its lowest districtwide case increases since April.
There are 1,807 total coronavirus cases in the health department district, including 1,176 in Warren, 235 in Butler, 179 in Logan, 67 in Edmonson, 55 in Simpson, 54 in Barren, 32 in Hart and seven in Metcalfe. Of those, 1,191 people have reportedly recovered. Some daily case totals might shift because of a case being reported in the wrong county.
Two additional virus-related deaths brought the district’s total to 47, including 13 in Butler, 11 in Edmonson, eight in both Warren and Logan, three in Simpson and two in both Barren and Metcalfe.
The Barren River Area Development District’s COVID-19 Dashboard, which uses state health department data, showed 1,955 total cases Wednesday in its 10-county region, including 1,179 in Warren, 240 in Butler, 176 in Logan, 120 in Allen, 63 in Edmonson, 59 in Barren, 58 in Simpson, 27 in Monroe, 26 in Hart and seven in Metcalfe.
There are at least 118 coronavirus cases in Allen County, according to an update Wednesday from the Allen County Health Department, which is not part of the Barren River district.
During Beshear’s daily briefing in Frankfort, he announced 11,883 total coronavirus cases statewide, 307 of which are probable and 191 are newly confirmed. He also announced seven additional virus-related deaths, bringing the state total to 484, two of which are considered probable.
At least 3,375 people have recovered, 508 are hospitalized and 68 are in intensive care. At least 302,347 total people have been tested statewide, which is about 6.8 percent of the state’s 4.4 million population.
Numbers often differ between the state and local sources because of different reporting methods.
Beshear also discussed the dismissal of a federal lawsuit challenging his decision to reorganize the state’s board of education on his first day of office.
“(I wanted) to ensure that we had a board with vast education experience, and a board that would find a new commissioner through a national search where we could get the very best, and not just (hire) one of the governor’s buddies,” he said.
In April, the state Senate confirmed all of Beshear’s board appointments except for then-Chairman David Karem, who would have been the board commissioner. Jefferson County Public Schools lead counsel Kevin Brown is currently serving as interim commissioner until a permanent replacement is hired by the board.
Beshear was also asked about his thoughts on problems with in-person voting Tuesday in Georgia, where people encountered long lines and voting machine problems that required polls to stay open longer than planned.
“Clerks should start making plans or estimates to what they could potentially see due to this, and if that requires a change in course, we ought to be open to it,” he said. “If we don’t learn from other peoples’ mistakes, then shame on us.”
State Rep. Jason Nemes, R-Louisville, along with several voters, filed a lawsuit against Beshear and other state officials this week arguing that the plan to have one in-person polling place per county for the state’s June 23 primary election is inadequate. Kentucky is permitting – and encouraging – widespread absentee voting for the primary amid concerns over spread of the coronavirus.
Beshear also was asked if he regrets deploying the Kentucky National Guard to Louisville amid recent protests against police-involved deaths of black Americans, during which a Guard member fatally shot a black man named David McAtee. Officials said they believe McAtee shot at authorities first, which prompted two Louisville Metro Police Department officers and two Guard members to return fire.
Beshear said there had been a “significant” escalation in damage and concerns over violence in Louisville and that “at the point” he believed sending in the Guard “was necessary.”
Asked if he feels responsible for McAtee’s death, Beshear said he wasn’t involved in the decision for the Guard to go to the area in Louisville where the incident occurred. He added that, “Mr. McAtee’s life matters, and I hate that he is no longer here with us.”
A reporter also questioned the governor about Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron’s statement that he believes Kentucky State Police and FBI investigation into McAtee’s death will reveal the Guard members acted with a “measured response.” Beshear said he thinks all evidence needs to be collected, which “will speak for itself.”
Asked about defunding the police, which some have endorsed, Beshear replied: “I don’t think (the concept) is as much about taking dollars away from law enforcement as (it is that) we throw law enforcement at problems that even law enforcement believes they shouldn’t be addressing. ...
“While there’s different terms and phrases being used ... what this is the real call for is funding of so many critical social services that go underfunded and ultimately the police are the only unit that respond to someone who is having a mental health or other issue.”
In regard to a question about the NAACP calling for civilian oversight of law enforcement, Beshear said his administration is analyzing both the request and the legal authority to do so, which would require overriding an existing statue.
– Follow multimedia journalist Emily Zantow on Twitter @EmilyZantowNews or visit bgdailynews.com.