Gov. Beshear: State Reports Highest Week Ever for New COVID-19 Cases

Highly contagious omicron variant continues to spread rapidly; highest ever test positivity rate reported today

FRANKFORT, Ky. (Jan. 10, 2022) – Today, Gov. Andy Beshear said Kentucky reported 52,603 new COVID-19 cases last week, the highest weekly total ever by nearly 22,000 cases. The second highest week for new cases was the week ending Sept. 5, 2021, when 30,680 cases were reported.

The Governor also reported the state’s highest-ever test positivity rate today, 26.33%, and updated Kentuckians on relief efforts for families impacted by Dec. 10-11 tornadoes.

“Omicron continues to burn through the commonwealth, growing at levels we have never seen before. Omicron is significantly more contagious than even the delta variant,” said Gov. Beshear. “If it spreads at the rate we are seeing, it is certainly going to fill up our hospitals.”

The Governor said he is deploying 445 Kentucky National Guard members to 30 health care facilities to provide support, beginning this week.

“We are now in a nearly vertical spike the likes of which dwarf all prior escalations,” said Dr. Steven Stack, commissioner of the Kentucky Department for Public Health (KDPH). “In just two weeks, Kentucky has gone from roughly half our delta variant surge peak to more than double our delta variant surge peak. At this point, essentially all COVID-19 in Kentucky is likely to be the omicron variant.”

Omicron appears to cause less severe illness, particularly among people who are vaccinated. Dr. Stack provided several tips to help Kentuckians during the surge:

  1. If you are sick, stay home until you feel better.
  2. Get vaccinated or boosted, if eligible. Boosters dramatically bolster your protection against severe disease and death.
  3. Wear a well-fitting mask at all times when indoors in public places such school, work, stores, etc.
  4. If you think you have COVID-19 and/or have had a high-risk exposure and you are able, get tested.

Dr. Stack also said K-12 schools guidance is changing in light of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updating its K-12 isolation and quarantine guidance last week.

Dr. Stack said, “Most importantly, universal masking is essential with omicron. If universal masking is not required in K-12 schools, omicron will spread rapidly and result in rapid and massive student and staff absences to due illness.”

If a school requires universal masking then it:

  1. Does not have to do contact tracing within the school population if a positive person is identified in the school population, and
  2. Does not have to quarantine any of the students or staff in the school population due to finding a positive person in the school setting.

In schools that do not require universal masking, the schools are urged to maintain robust contact tracing when positive persons are identified in the school setting and to quarantine all persons not up-to-date on their COVID-19 vaccination if exposed in the school setting.

Regardless of a school’s masking requirements, individuals who test positive should isolate for at least five days.

Individuals who are not up-to-date on their COVID-19 vaccination and who are exposed to COVID-19 at home or outside school should quarantine for at least five days unless participating in a test-to-stay modified quarantine program as described by KDPH.

To learn more, see Dr. Stack’s presentation from today’s press conference.

COVID-19 Case Information, Vaccinations Update
Number of people who have received at least one vaccine dose in Kentucky: 2,807,380
Number of people who have received their vaccination booster in Kentucky: 922,104

Jan. 8, Cases: 6,750
Jan. 8, Deaths: 32
Jan. 9, Cases: 5,235
Jan. 9, Deaths: 21

New Cases Today: 5,049
New Deaths: 14
Today’s Positivity Rate: 26.33%
Current Hospitalizations: 1,873
Current Intensive Care Admittances: 452
Currently on Ventilators: 238

The Governor said 63% of all Kentuckians have received at least their first dose, as well as 67% of Kentuckians ages 5 and older and 74% of all Kentucky adults.

Dec. 10-11 Tornadoes
Today, Gov. Beshear provided an update on relief efforts for the historic Dec. 10-11 tornadoes:

  • Currently, Kentucky State Parks are providing housing and food services for 480 displaced Kentuckians and 139 first responders. There are 177 state park rooms occupied by displaced Kentuckians and 99 rooms have been provided for first responders. Parks housing has been extended for an additional 30 days for families and first responders who need it.
  • President Joe Biden amended Kentucky’s Disaster Declaration last week. Federal funds for debris removal and emergency protective measures, including direct federal assistance, have been increased to 100 percent of the total eligible costs for a 30-day period of the commonwealth’s choosing within the first 120 days of the declaration.

“For those who are displaced because of the tornadoes staying in our state parks, we’ve got you,” said Gov. Beshear. “We are going to make sure that we can make that transition to semi-permanent housing and do it the right way. We are going to keep that housing available for at least another 30 days.”

Budget Address
The Governor reminded Kentuckians that he will deliver his 2022 Budget Address on Thursday, Jan. 13, at 7 p.m. EST.

Today, Gov. Beshear unveiled his budget’s $2 billion investment in pre-K-12 education.

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