Andy Beshear ap
FILE - In a Sunday, May 3, 2020 file photo, Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear walks through the state's Emergency Operations Center at the Boone National Guard Center in Frankfort, Ky., on his way to a news conference to provide an update on coronavirus in the state. Gov. Andy Beshear has announced plans to bring back Kentucky's health insurance exchange. The exchange was dismantled by his Republican predecessor. Beshear notified federal officials of his plans to revive the state-based exchange at the start of 2022. (Ryan C. Hermens/Lexington Herald-Leader via AP)

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Kentucky shot past 50,000 COVID-19 cases after reporting its third-highest one-day total, an increase that Gov. Andy Beshear said indicated people are “probably being a little more lax” than they should be heading into the long holiday weekend.

Ninety-five of Kentucky’s 120 counties reported at least one coronavirus case Thursday, showing how widespread the outbreak remains, Beshear said as he announced 906 new cases statewide.

“Don’t be fooled,” the governor told reporters at his COVID-19 briefing. “It’s in your community. Make sure you do what it takes to protect yourself, protect your family and ultimately protect people that you don’t even know so that you’re not spreading this.”

 

The governor also reported 10 more virus-related deaths in Kentucky. The state could be headed toward its largest number of virus-related deaths in any week, he said.

Beshear urged people to avoid large gatherings and to wear masks and practice social distancing during the Labor Day weekend to contain the spread of the virus. On Saturday, the Kentucky Derby will be run without fans at Churchill Downs in Louisville, but the race is typically an occasion for widespread partying in the Bluegrass State.

With the 906 virus cases reported Thursday, Kentucky surpassed 50,000 cases to reach another unwanted milestone in its fight against COVID-19. The latest cases increased the statewide total to at least 50,885 since the start of the pandemic. The statewide death toll reached 976.

Kentucky posted more than 800 coronavirus cases in each of the previous two days, and Beshear acknowledged Wednesday that the state is in “a dangerous place” in battling the outbreak. There were 36 virus-related deaths reported statewide in the prior three days.

In a good sign, the state’s positivity rate was down from the prior day amid a continued high number of tests given statewide, he said. The rate — a rolling figure reflecting the average number of tests coming back positive for COVID-19 — currently stands at 4.53%, the governor said Thursday.

“We are thankful for the number of tests, because it lets us react better, make sure that we can do the quarantines that are necessary and prevent it from spreading even more,” he said.

“But I do think it shows that we’re probably being a little more lax in our daily lives than we should be right now,” he said, adding that 906 daily cases “used to be unfathomable here in Kentucky.”

Heading into the Labor Day holiday, Beshear urged people to keep gatherings small, spread out, wear masks, socially distance and travel as little as possible to combat the virus. Failure to heed the warnings could send Kentucky’s case numbers climbing higher in coming weeks, he said.

“We’re asking it once,” he said. “I don’t think that there’s ever going to be an ask like this again. Do it for your family. Do it for your community. Do it for your own personal health. Do it because your faith compels you to protect other people. Do it because it’s the right thing to do.”

For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some — especially older adults and people with existing health problems — it can cause more severe illness and be fatal.

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