Kentucky reports 11 more coronavirus-related deaths

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Kentucky reported 11 more coronavirus-related deaths and nearly 900 new cases Thursday as the governor kept urging people to wear masks to help stop the state's escalating outbreak.

Gov. Andy Beshear offered more details to efforts to enforce his statewide mask mandate, which was extended for another 30 days. The state Labor Cabinet previously issued citations, fines or closure orders to dozens of organizations for non-compliance and is now stepping up enforcement, he said. The governor also urged Kentuckians to call a hotline to report violations of businesses that check out customers who aren't wearing masks.

“It is important that we get this right," Beshear said at a news conference. “The escalation that we and our country are dealing with right now can be defeated. And can be defeated without making new steps that are difficult on small businesses or impact schools or other parts of our lives. But we have to have you doing the right thing. Do it for your values. Do it for your faith."

Beshear said the state remains on pace to set another record high for weekly COVID-19 cases.

The governor reported 884 more coronavirus cases Thursday, as the total statewide number surpassed 77,450 cases since the start of the pandemic. The 11 new virus-related deaths raised Kentucky's death toll to at least 1,234.

“Again, with the high number of cases, we're going to have high numbers of deaths, even with the mortality rate decreasing," the governor said.

Meanwhile, the governor reported that 33 veterans and 10 staff members at a veterans center in Wilmore are currently fighting the coronavirus. Ten of the veterans are hospitalized.

“We are marshaling all of our resources to be there for them," Beshear said.

The state’s closely watched positivity rate — a seven-day rolling figure reflecting the average number of tests coming back positive for the virus — was 4.1%, 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.

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