Gov. Andy Beshear

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear 

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Kentucky's COVID-19 positivity rate topped 5% Friday after Gov. Andy Beshear announced 797 new cases.

Kentucky's positivity rate is now 5.28% based on a seven-day rolling average as of Friday, above the 5% rate recommended by the White House before enacting restrictions to curb the spread of COVID-19, such as limiting restaurant capacities and closing bars.

"We're going to want to see what happens in the next couple days," Beshear said.

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"Whether we can bring down cases is going to determine how many lives we lose, is going to determine what economic impact we have going forward because our reopening and our economy are now tied to how well that we deal with this virus," he said. "It's going to be directly related to when we can get our kids back in school for in-person classes."

If daily COVID-19 cases don't decline, Beshear said additional restrictions and recommendations could be announced early next week.

One such recommendation may be that school districts delay their starting dates for the 2020-21 school year if they're slated to reopen in early August or begin the year with distance learning, he said.

Jefferson County Public Schools, Fayette County Public Schools and Franklin County Schools have all announced their plans to start the year remotely with nontraditional instruction.

Starting the school year during the recent escalation in COVID-19 cases "would be a real challenge," he said.

"I think superintendents ought to have the flexibility certainly to decide between the two of those what works," Beshear said. "Listen, I want to get back in-school, in-class schooling, and so for me, the likely recommendation would just be about when the earliest we would recommend in-person classes" can resume.

"I desperately want to get back my kids back in school," he said. "I also want it to be safe."

Beshear has also asked churches transition to virtual or drive-in services for the next two Sundays given the increase in COVID-19 cases. Beshear relayed the request to the Kentucky Council of Churches and other organizations, he said Friday.

Beshear lost a federal court case involving a previous ban on in-person church services.

"Let me be clear: There's no mandate," he said. "There is no order. There's no executive order. There's no regulation. There's nothing like that."

Kentucky also extended its contract with Ernst & Young to process unemployment claims for $4.4 million, Beshear said. The company originally received a contract worth about $7.4 million for such work in June.

Beshear said the company will dedicate fewer employees to process unemployment claims in this cheaper contract.

"Our goal is for this to be the last contract we have to have with them," he said. 

The governor announced seven more Kentuckians who contracted COVID-19 have died, putting the total death toll at 691.

In all, 25,931 Kentuckians have tested positive for COVID-19 and 574,233 tests have been administered.

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