FRANKFORT — Kentucky reported 14 more coronavirus-related deaths Thursday, continuing its recent daily trend of double-digit deaths related to the pandemic.

Gov. Andy Beshear has warned that deaths could rise after a surge in COVID-19 cases last month. The state has suffered 38 virus-related deaths in the past three days, raising Kentucky's death toll to 856 since the pandemic began, he said.

"Remember when I said it's going to be a tough August? That's because of what we had in July," the governor told reporters. "With that many cases, the deaths follow two weeks to a month after."

Beshear said the state has "done a good job of pushing down the mortality rate, but this thing is still so much deadlier than things we regularly encounter like the flu."

The governor insisted that his mandate that people wear masks in public is working. It spared the Bluegrass State from dramatic spikes in cases and deaths that hit some other states.

"You could see our curve just as clearly as everybody else's, and we've blunted it," Beshear said.

"It's going to take us a little bit of time to start coming back down," he added.

Beshear also reported 726 more confirmed coronavirus cases statewide, raising the total to more than 41,620 confirmed cases. The newest round of cases included 101 among Kentuckians aged 18 and under.

The governor recently urged Kentucky's K-12 schools to wait until Sept. 28 to restart in-person classes to give more time to bring a recent surge in virus cases under control.

Kentucky's positivity rate — a rolling figure reflecting the average number of tests coming back positive for COVID-19 — was 5.18%, down slightly, he said.

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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