Despite climbing numbers of positive COVID-19 cases across the state and the region, Governor Andy Beshear has assured Kentucky residents that the virus has plateaued in Kentucky.
Although new cases are being reported an what could be an alarming rate, significant increases in the amount of tests being performed seems to have more to do with the increase than the actual spread of the virus. Just this week the state began partnering with Kroger to prove 20,000 tests in Madisonville, Paducah, Somerset and Pikeville. This is in addition to a location in northern Kentucky that conducted 900 tests over the weekend.
The governor also announced two locations in Lexington and Louisville that plan to do 1,200 tests per week going forward, and a new partnership with Walgreens that will also be starting testing a locations in Louisville and Lexington.
“Given that we are doing more tests and how those numbers have gone up and down, we do believe from the total number of tests that we have plateaued,” the Governor said. “Nobody wants 196 new cases, but we are not seeing a day-over-day increase, and when we average it all out we’re not seeing a three-day-over-three-day increase, which we were seeing as early as about two weeks ago.”
When scientist graph the spread of infection, it shows up on a chart as an arching line, or a “curve” as it has been called. When that curve reaches its peak, the spread of infection from person to person levels off into what is considered a plateau.
At the plateau, the number of new cases is considered to be neither increasing or decreasing, even though an increase in testing might make it appear that the virus is still spreading at an alarming rate.
The plateau is especially important because health experts have predicted that once its reached, the spread of the virus will begin to decline much faster than it began.
Due to the change, Beshear told Kentuckians that the state will enter the first phase of reopening the economy on Monday.
“We are very close to coming to a consensus and an agreement in being able to put out guidelines for the gradual reopening of many of our hospital and health care services,” Gov. Beshear said. “We will be moving from this phase to others. Health care is a good and important place to start some of our reopening.”
The Governor said Kentucky will go through three phases in dealing with coronavirus: sacrifice, planning and patience and perseverance. The Governor said now we are in the planning and patience phase.
“Whether it is shuttering a business temporarily, or if it’s that you’re not going to work right now because of what has happened with this virus,” he said. “Whether it is changes to your life, your children not going to school, we have shown that we can pass the test of sacrifice.”
The Governor said the phased health care services reopening is the first under the Healthy at Work initiative he introduced Tuesday to help businesses reopen safely when the time is right.
Beshear said a foundational basis for safely reopening the economy requires a massive scaling up of testing capacity in the commonwealth.
As of Wednesday afternoon, the total confirmed cases across the state had risen to 3,373, with 196 deaths. In the Green River District Health Department, that total is up to 262, with Webster County having 21 confirmed cases.
In Webster, eight of those cases have been declared fully recovered, while two remain hospitalized. As of noon on Thursday, April 23, there have been no confirmed COVID-19 deaths in the county.
Despite Governor Beshear reporting that the curve has plateaued, local health department officials are still urging caution.
“We all play a part in stopping the spread of COVID-19. Stay home, avoid crowds, wash your hands, and practice physical social distancing – staying at least 6 feet away from others. We have to stick with this strategy. We can’t let our guard down.” said Clay Horton, Public Health Director for the Green River District Health Department. “We expect to see more new cases. It is crucial we do everything we can to stop the spread of COVID-19.”
Reach MATT HUGHES
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