Officials say holidays caused new virus surge in Kentucky

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Kentucky is dealing with a surge in COVID-19 cases caused at least partly by people getting together during the holidays despite warnings not to do so, officials said Friday.

Including the 4,750 new cases reported Friday and a total of 10,653 reported Wednesday and Thursday, the state has confirmed more than 15,000 in just three days.

“We are now seeing a real and significant increase in cases and positivity rate from people’s gatherings over the holidays,” Gov. Andy Beshear said during a briefing in which he urged the public to follow health guidelines.

More than 1,000 of the cases reported Friday were in Jefferson or Fayette counties, which are two of the biggest in the state.

Dr. Steven Stack, the state's public health commissioner, said a third virus surge was halted before the holidays, but over Thanksgiving and Christmas, “people socialized and they spread disease in ways that are now resulting in an increase in our positivity rate.”

Kentucky's average positivity rate over the last seven days stood at 11.9% on Friday, according to state health department statistics. The state also recorded 13 more COVID-19 deaths on Friday, pushing its pandemic death toll to more than 2,800.

Beshear said vaccinations in the state have accelerated, with more than 47,000 doses administered over the last three days. A total of 107,799 doses have so far been administered in Kentucky, he said.