Newly reported cases of COVID-19 rise in Kentucky to 948

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Kentucky reported nearly 950 new coronavirus cases on Friday, one of the largest daily totals statewide since the pandemic began, Gov. Andy Beshear said.

The governor also reported nine more virus-related deaths, raising the state's death toll to at least 1,044.

One day after delivering a speech updating the status of the state's pandemic fight, Beshear renewed his request Friday that Kentuckians “step up and meet our challenge."

“Remember other people’s health and lives are on the line and we need you to do your part,” he said.

The Democratic governor has urged people to wear masks in public, practice social distancing, limit gatherings to 10 or fewer, wash hands frequently and limit travel. In his speech Thursday, Beshear warned that the state's virus-related death toll is likely to increase by at least hundreds more.

Kentucky's most powerful Republican, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, had a similar message Friday about people doing their part to combat the pandemic.

“Until this goes away, the single best thing all of us can do — and it's not complicated — is to wear a mask, practice social distancing," McConnell said during an appearance in Mount Sterling, Kentucky. “Until we get a vaccine, that's the only way we can continue to work."

The 948 newly reported cases Friday raised Kentucky's total to more than 55,700 cases since the start of the outbreak, Beshear said. The newest cases included 151 people who are 18 and younger, he said. The youngest is a 1-month-old from Jefferson County.

The state’s closely watched positivity rate — a seven-day rolling figure reflecting the average number of tests coming back positive for COVID-19 — rose slightly to 4.7%, the governor said.

Meanwhile, the state has started the payment process to add $400 to the weekly unemployment checks for tens of thousands of people who lost work during the COVID-19 outbreak, Beshear said.

Eligible Kentuckians will begin receiving those funds in the next two to three days, he said.

The short-term, supplemental payments will go to about 80,000 Kentuckians who received benefits between July 26 and Aug. 15. McConnell, who is up for reelection this year, sent a letter to Beshear last month urging him to request the extra jobless assistance from federal officials.

Beshear decided to have Kentucky dip into its federal coronavirus relief aid to pay for $100 of the extra $400 in weekly assistance.

The extra payments are going out after the state reconfigured its unemployment insurance computer system to process and distribute the supplemental benefits.

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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Follow AP’s pandemic coverage at https://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak.

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