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COVID-19: Indoor Dining, Fitness Centers to Resume; State Records Highest Case Total

Restaurants and bars are expected to be able to reopen to indoor patrons on Monday, Governor Andy Beshear said during Thursday's COVID-19 update, which included the announcement that the state saw its highest single-day total of positive coronavirus cases since the pandemic began.

The positivity rate, however, declined for the seventh straight day.

“When we talk about COVID being a fast moving train, it doesn’t just immediately turn; you have to slow it down, stop it and turn it around. We still believe that’s what we’re seeing,” Beshear said. “We may also be seeing some of the impact from Thanksgiving in these numbers, that we could be moving in the right way, but still, Thanksgiving has a major impact. I can tell you that if we are seeing Thanksgiving’s impact, it’s a lot less than what we are seeing in some other states.”

Indoor dining and bars were closed three weeks ago as an effort to mitigate a sharp increase in COVID-19 cases across the state, but on Monday, restaurants and bars can reopen at 50% capacity, Beshear said. Masks will be required expect when actively drinking or eating, and service must stop at 11 p.m.

The businesses must close no later than midnight.

The governor also said that public and private middle and high schools will continue remote instruction until January 4 while elementary schools can return to in-person learning once their counties are out of the red zone, a designation that means 25 or more daily COVID-19 positive cases per 100,000 people.

All Northern Kentucky counties remain in the red zone.

Also on Monday, indoor social gatherings are recommended to have no more than eight people from a maximum of two households, with no limit on the number of people from the same household.

There will be no limit on outdoor social gatherings.

Gyms, fitness centers, pools, and other indoor recreation facilities can also operate again at 50% capacity though masks must be worn while exercising.

Venues, event spaces, and theaters can reopen at 50% capacity.

Professional services can operate again with up to 50% of employees working in-person, though the state recommends that all employees able to work from home must do so.

The state recorded 4,324 newly confirmed positive COVID-19 cases across Kentucky on Thursday, the highest single-day total since the pandemic began. Twenty-eight COVID-related deaths were reported.

The positivity rate is at 9.13%.

There were 350 new cases across Northern Kentucky: 132 in Kenton Co., 115 in Boone Co., 65 in Campbell Co., 21 in Pendleton Co., and 14 in Grant Co.

There are currently 1,756 people hospitalized with 442 in intensive care units and 231 on ventilators.

Dr. Steven Stack, commissioner of the Department for Public Health, noted that different Kentucky regions have between 54% and 87% of hospital beds already in use; in addition, Kentucky regions have between 61% and 96% of ICU beds already filled.

“With these hospitalization and ICU numbers, you start having to make more difficult choices, including having to postpone or defer surgeries or procedures for patients who would have to stay in the hospital afterwards,” said Dr. Stack. “For example, people who have large aneurysms in their aorta come into the hospital, have a major surgery oftentimes, and may have to stay in the hospital for multiple days. If it’s not an immediate emergency, hospitals may have to postpone that kind of surgery because they have so few beds available.”

-Staff report

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