LEXINGTON, Ky. — Gov. Andy Beshear announced 5,617 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday across Kentucky and 36 additional deaths, bringing the statewide case total to 171,755 and the death toll to 1,871.
Friday's increase in cases and deaths is especially high because it includes totals from Thanksgiving. On the Thursday holiday, Kentucky reported its largest single-day increase in cases — 3,870 — and second-highest increase of deaths — 32. The remaining 1,747 cases and four deaths were new on Friday; both Friday figures are likely low in part because of lab closures on the holiday.
Beshear called the number of new cases "truly alarming," in a written Friday update, and asked Kentuckians to avoid in-person holiday shopping in busy stores. "Please be careful when you're shopping and consider safer options, like purchasing gifts online for delivery or curbside pick-up," he said. "Now is the time we need everyone to buckle down, stay strong, and stop this surge in cases."
The rate of Kentuckians who are currently testing positive, a seven-day average, is at 8.85%. Before dipping about a percentage point at the week's end, the positivity rate hit 8.94% on Thursday. All but five of Kentucky's 120 counties are experiencing critical spread of the virus and are in the "red zone," where there are more than 25 cases per 100,000 people.
As Beshear and others have warned, local health officials are bracing for a post-Thanksgiving spike of new coronavirus cases. In Lexington, where the health department reported 306 new cases of the virus Friday morning, department spokesman Kevin Hall said he and others are worried the number of new infections will "skyrocket" in the coming weeks.
There are currently 1,714 people across Kentucky who are sick enough to be hospitalized, and of those, 390 are in intensive care and 216 are on ventilators. The deaths announced Thursday and Friday included people in their 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s.(c)2020 Lexington Herald-Leader (Lexington, Ky.) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC