FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Gov. Andy Beshear reported 14 more coronavirus-related deaths Tuesday in Kentucky and expressed concerns about increased hospitalizations caused by a recent surge in the outbreak.
New statewide virus cases totaled 776, down from the 1,054 cases reported last Tuesday. If that continues, it could signal that the recent escalation is stabilizing, the governor said.
“Obviously it is early, but it’s something that we hope for," Beshear said. “And I believe that if we see it, it’s because we had more people out there doing the right thing.”
Beshear has constantly stressed the importance of wearing masks in public, adhering to social distancing and following other health guidelines to contain the virus's spread.
The Bluegrass State is coming off its record number of cases last week.
The latest virus-related deaths were among people ranging in age from 59 to 96, raising the statewide death toll to at least 1,269. As he has throughout the pandemic, the governor announced the age, gender and home county of the 14 people Tuesday.
“That’s a lot of individuals," he said. “Each one is more than an age and a county. Each one is a special life, a special Kentuckian that we’ve lost.”
Meanwhile, 704 people are hospitalized in Kentucky because of the virus, compared with 589 two weeks ago, he said. Those in intensive care now totals 170, compared with 129 two weeks ago.
“Thus far it’s not threatening our capacity, but it is going up,” the governor said.
Rising numbers of hospitalizations are to be expected during an upswing in cases, he said.
Meanwhile, nearly 800 students and 137 school staff are in quarantine due to the pandemic, according to the state’s coronavirus dashboard for K-12 schools.
But more than 200 of the 1,732 schools in the database have not reported COVID-19 activity in the last two weeks, said Lt. Gov. Jacqueline Coleman.
“That is unacceptable and it’s irresponsible," she said. “It jeopardizes the health of your students, your school staff, their families and your community.”
Schools failing to report “this vital public health information” are hurting efforts to have students back in their classrooms, Coleman said.
The governor also gave an update about his own family's situation.
Beshear, his wife and their two children remain in quarantine at the governor's mansion after they were potentially exposed last weekend by a member of his security detail who later tested positive for COVID-19. The governor is working from the mansion and providing his coronavirus briefings virtually.
The governor said his family is doing fine and they all tested negative Tuesday. The member of his security team is showing mild flu-like symptoms, Beshear 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.