New high: Virus cases surge by more than 1,300 in Kentucky

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Kentucky's surging coronavirus outbreak reached another high Wednesday with more than 1,300 new cases, the governor said, calling that a “shock to the system" and an incentive for stepped-up compliance with the health guidelines intended to bring the pandemic under control.

It was the highest single-day virus caseload in Kentucky when excluding one day last week when the total included large numbers of backlogged cases, Gov. Andy Beshear said.

“It is an indication that right now at least we’re finding more virus out there, and there’s probably more virus out there than anytime to date in our dealing with this pandemic,” he said.

The high number indicates some people have been “a little casual” in following health guidance, Beshear said. It’s a signal to “step it up” in adhering to those guidelines, he said.

“Maybe this is a jolt or a shock to the system," Beshear said. “Everybody ought to be concerned and everybody ought to be doing the right thing. And those that are out there that try to confront you for wearing a mask or being a jerk, that’s all they are. And they’re putting your health at risk. So do the right thing. The vast majority of people are with you.”

Beshear continued giving his coronavirus briefings remotely while in quarantine with his family at the governor’s mansion. They were potentially exposed last weekend by a member of his security detail who later tested positive for COVID-19. The governor's family tested negative Tuesday but he said they will remain in quarantine until cleared by state public health officials.

The Democratic governor on Wednesday reported 1,346 new virus cases and seven more virus-related deaths, among people ranging in age from 49 to 82. Beshear reported the deaths of two veterans from a veterans center in Wilmore that was hit by a recent outbreak.

Total statewide virus cases have surpassed 83,000 since the start of the pandemic. Kentucky's virus-related death toll reached at least 1,276.

Statewide hospitalizations related to the virus also continued to rise, as did virus patients in intensive care and on ventilators, Beshear said. He reported that 711 people are hospitalized in Kentucky because of the virus, while 185 are in ICU and 113 are on ventilators. While the increases are concerning, adequate capacity remains at Kentucky's hospitals, the governor 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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Follow AP’s pandemic coverage at https://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak.