FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Facing its worst coronavirus outbreak since the pandemic began, Kentucky surged past 100,000 total COVID-19 cases Wednesday as Gov. Andy Beshear bluntly warned that people are putting themselves at risk if they fail to wear masks in public.
The governor reported 1,864 new confirmed cases, pushing the statewide total past 101,000. He announced 14 more virus-related deaths, raising Kentucky's death count to at least 1,442.
Reflecting the virus's rapid spread, 64 counties — more than half of Kentucky's counties — are listed in the highest category for COVID-19 incidence rates, Beshear said at a press conference.
The state's positivity rate reached 6.07%, the first time it surpassed 6% since Aug. 8.
The current escalation is the worst to hit Kentucky and its reach is statewide, the governor said.
“When you look at the incident map, it also shows you that this is not localized," he said. “And none of us can say, ‘It’s not in our community' anymore. And none of us should say, ‘Well, it’s just in the nursing home or just in the prison in our community.' It is in the community.
“If you’re not wearing a mask, you’re putting yourself at risk," the Democratic governor added. “That’s where we are right now."
Dr. Steven Stack, Kentucky’s public health commissioner, said “we know what works" to contain the virus's spread.
“There are plenty of guidances and mandates in place," he said. “The problem is people have to follow them."
The latest escalation in Kentucky has led to increased hospitalizations. Beshear reported that 927 people are hospitalized because of the virus, including 235 in intensive care, he said.
For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms that clear up within weeks. But for others, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, the virus can cause severe symptoms and be fatal. The vast majority of people recover.
Follow AP’s pandemic coverage at https://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak.