Kentucky's battle against COVID-19 is entering a new "grim" stage, according to Governor Andy Beshear.
The Commonwealth's top leader spoke exclusively with 44News anchor Jessica Hartman about the escalating number of hospitalizations that have Team Kentucky on high alert.
Kentucky sees surge in cases & hospitalizations:
The Governor indicated that the daily case average is now hovering around a thousand cases, but it is that number coupled with the rising hospital capacity that makes this surge more concerning than the one that followed the 4th of July and resulted in a statewide mask mandate.
"For a state our size, that is not a good place to be. The second thing is not just cases going up because cases went up in July. But hospitalizations and ICU are going up too," explained Gov. Beshear. "That didn't happen to the degree in July that we are seeing right now."
The escalation of cases appears to have taken off in mid-September, according to the Epidemic Curve graph on the state's COVID-19 dashboard.
"Because of that, we are going to make sure that we are ready," promised Gov. Beshear. "We have been aring for this from a logistics standpoint; from a PPE and testing standpoint since March. But it is certainly one that we want to avoid. We want to stop this surge."
The state is also reviewing operational plans in the event that a field hospital must be erected to take on the overflow of patients needing medical attention.
The governor recognizing that part of the increase in the spread can be tied to fatigue, with Kentuckians becoming more complacent about following safety protocol. But he is encouraging everyone to bolster their efforts to prevent the surge from resulting in more loss of life.
“I believe we are up for it,” encouraged Gov. Beshear. “I believe Team Kentucky is just taking their breath and getting ready to go back into battle. That is where we need everybody.”
Gov. Beshear remains in quarantine:
Gov. Beshear spoke to 44News from the Governor’s Mansion where he is finishing out a 2-week quarantine with his family. The four were exposed to a member of their security team, who then tested positive.
“Nobody wants to have to quarantine, but I get to do it with the three people I love most in the world. I am going to try and take that as a blessing,” said Gov. Beshear when asked how the family was handling the situation.
The First Family has tested negative three-times since October 11th, but they don’t plan to leave quarantine until they are cleared by the Department of Public Health.
The governor believes he has a duty to lead by example not only now, but in the near future when a vaccine becomes available.
Kentucky preparing for COVID-19 vaccine:
“I am not going to ask anybody to take anything that I don’t believe is safe, that I won’t take myself, and that my family won’t take,” promised Gov. Beshear.
Kentucky recently released their preliminary plans for distributing a COVID-19 vaccine. It includes three phases of dosing starting with health care professionals.
“We are going to have limited supplies at the start,” explained Gov. Beshear. “We have set a plan where those that need it most, get it first. We are going to have to ask people to be patient.”
However, several national polls throughout the pandemic have indicated a large number of Americans are skeptical of getting a vaccine. When asked about the distrust in the vaccine, Gov. Beshear pointed to November 3rd.
“Right now, the vaccine is being discussed right in the middle of a Presidential Election with a lot of politics. I think when we have got a chance to talk to people about the science and the studies, they will be confident,” answered Gov. Beshear “They can be confident it will be a good thing that will help them get to at least a new normal.”
In the meantime, he is encouraging the Bluegrass to continue to mask up, follow social distancing guidelines, and practice good hygiene.