Kentucky reports more than 800 new coronavirus cases

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Kentucky's surging coronavirus outbreak continued Saturday with more than 800 new cases reported as the state struggles to slow the escalation.

“Today’s numbers continue a concerning increase in the number of COVID-19 cases in our commonwealth,” Gov. Andy Beshear said in a release. “We expect to take additional steps next week if the case numbers don’t stabilize.”

In recent days, the Democratic governor has braced the state for the potential for new restrictions unless the disease’s resurgence is brought under control.

The governor reported 836 more virus cases Saturday, the second-highest daily total in Kentucky. It raised the statewide total to at least 26,764 cases since the pandemic began. Twenty-two new virus cases announced Saturday involved children ages 5 and younger.

Beshear reported five more virus-related deaths, raising the statewide total to 696.

Dr. Steven Stack, Kentucky’s public health commissioner, said personal decisions and behaviors can help spare Kentucky from the severe health crisis being felt in some other states.

“We can choose to delay a party or picnic," Stack said. “We can shop for groceries or go to the pharmacy when it’s less crowded. We can opt for an online or drive-up worship service. We can wear a face mask."

The governor has asked churches to take voluntary actions to help combat the escalating number of virus cases. He recommended that churches do virtual or drive-up services for the next two Sundays. He said there was no mandate or executive order and if houses of worship still plan to hold services, he recommended they “double down” on wearing masks and cleaning.

For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some — especially older adults and people with existing health problems — it can cause more severe illness and be fatal.

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Follow AP coverage of the pandemic at https://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak.