COVID-19 surge testing project begins in Kentucky

FRANKFORT, Ky. —  A new testing project Wednesday with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) was announced Wednesday by Gov. Andy Beshear, as the state sees record-high numbers of new COVID-19 cases. Up to 200 tests today (Thursday) and 300 tests each day after are available to Kentuckians at the Kentucky Exposition Center – Lot C in Louisville, from Oct. 29-31 and Nov. 2-6.

An additional testing location in Lexington will be announced soon and will open Nov. 16. Kentuckians can expect PCR test results within two or three days, Beshear said. Each patient receiving a test gets a pack of five cloth face coverings provided by HHS. Kentuckians can register for a test now here.

Beshear said community leaders, schools, businesses and families listed in red zone counties each Thursday on kycovid19.ky.gov should follow new recommendations the following Monday through Sunday to stop the spread of COVID-19 in their communities.

“It takes an entire community to protect the most vulnerable, to keep our schools open and to keep our economy running,” he said. “What we need to see is that when a county hits red, everybody comes together in a coordinated effort.”

When a county gets out of the red zone, schools can reopen, businesses have more flexibility, nursing homes can accommodate visitors and Kentuckians are able to enjoy more activities with loved ones. Most important, fewer people get sick or die from COVID-19.

“This is the worst our incidence rate map has ever looked and every indication would suggest that it’s going to get worse before it gets better,” said Dr. Steven Stack, commissioner of the Department for Public Health. “This is a human problem. A global problem. Everyone wants it to be over. But if we get cavalier about it, it’s like being at a casino – the house always wins. The virus is the house. When everyone flaunts the guidelines, they don’t work.”

As of 4 p.m. Wednesday, the governor reported the following COVID-19 numbers:

  • New cases today: 1,864
  • New deaths today: 14
  • Positivity rate: 6.07%
  • Total deaths: 1,442
  • Currently hospitalized: 927
  • Currently in ICU: 235
  • Currently on ventilator: 110

The top counties with the most positive cases today are: Jefferson, Fayette, Hardin, Nelson, Pike, Kenton and Warren. A list of today’s 64 red counties can be found here.

Long-term care facilities update

By the end of this week, approximately 330,000 Kentucky-sponsored surveillance COVID-19 tests will have been administered in long-term care facilities, said Eric Friedlander, secretary for the Cabinet for Health and Family Services. Residents and staff in red counties are tested twice a week; those in orange counties are tested weekly.

At Thomson-Hood Veterans Center in Wilmore, the largest facility operated by the Kentucky Department of Veterans Affairs, 54 veterans are currently positive and tragically, 11 have been lost to COVID-19, Friedlander said. Twenty-three staff are currently positive.

The Cabinet for Health and Family Services is providing surveillance testing: Twice a week, PCR testing is being administered and on top of that, facilities are using Binex antigen testing for rapid results. Kentucky Department of Veterans Affairs Strike Teams have been deployed, staffed by health professionals from several states and representing the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.