Kentucky COVID-19 coronavirus generic map

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Kentucky’s COVID-19 escalation is continuing, and Gov. Andy Beshear said the state, for the first time since spring, is activating surge preparations, including the potential housing of patients in state parks and field hospitals.

“We are now going back to our plans about capacity at hospitals, looking, if we have to, at hotel options and the use of state parks, ensuring that we have the operational plans to stand up the field hospital if necessary,” Beshear said.

“Because our cases continue to go up. Our hospitalization continues to go up. We continue to see more people in the ICU, and if we can’t get everybody’s buy-in ... my concern is that we’re going to experience a ... real surge."

The state in the last seven days has recorded nearly 8,000 new cases, a record high, and 73 deaths, the second-highest seven-day total.

Beshear said Tuesday that the situation was “grim” as he reported 1,312 new cases, a record high for a Tuesday, which followed a record high for a Monday.

The state’s positivity rate, or the share of tests that come back positive, rose above 5% for the first time in weeks. State Health Commissioner Dr. Steven Stack said that a rate above 5% indicates that the state is not conducting enough tests to identify a high enough share of people who are becoming infected. The state conducted nearly 122,000 tests in the last week.

According to the latest White House report, 70% of Kentucky’s 120 counties, including Jefferson, now are experiencing moderate to high community spread. More than a third are in the “red zone,” indicating high levels of community transmission.

COVID-19-related deaths in Kentucky by age

Graphic by WDRB Media. Data source: Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services.

While the state’s mortality rate, or the share of people who die after testing positive, continues to fall, and is now below 1.5%, the sheer number of cases now is pushing up the death toll, as both the governor and the state health commissioner have predicted.

The state reported 16 COVID-19-related deaths Tuesday, the sixth-highest single-day death toll and the second-highest for a Tuesday. In the first three days this week, the state has suffered 30 deaths, also the second-highest for a Sunday-Tuesday stretch. Nine of the people whose deaths were announced Tuesday were at least 80 years old. Thirteen were at least 70. One was under 60.

In total, the state has lost 1,342 people to the disease this year. About half were at least 80, and three-quarters were at least 70.

COVID-19 Kentucky hospitalizations, ICU use

Graphic by WDRB Media. Data source: Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services.

The governor said 776 COVID-19 patients were in the hospital, which, according to state records, is a record-high. Of those, 202 were in intensive care, the highest level since mid-May. Nonetheless, the governor had said Monday that about 29% of the state’s ICU beds were still available.

The state said that 17,402 patients have recovered, which is about 19.4% of total cases.

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