FRANKFORT — The first COVID-19 update of the year by Gov. Andy Beshear showed a roller-coaster ride in cases as three days of numbers were released Saturday.

For Thursday, state health officials reported 4,145 cases and 39 deaths. The positivity rate jumped to 9.89%, and there were 1,627 Kentuckians hospitalized. A total of 432 of them were in the ICU with 224 on a ventilator.

On Friday, the state reported 3,124 news cases and 14 new deaths. Kentucky’s positivity rose above the 10% mark, at 10.32%. While the number of hospitalizations rose to 1,671, there were drops in the number in the ICU at 423 and those on a ventilator at 216.

Saturday saw a big drop in new cases, with 1,470. The number of deaths rose to 22, and the positivity rate jumped to 10.79%. A total of 1,635 Kentuckians were hospitalized, with 428 in the intensive care unit and 211 on a ventilator.

The three days of numbers mean there have been 273,971 positive COVID-19 cases in Kentucky since the first one was reported on March 6, and 2,698 deaths.

Beshear said the state’s elevated positivity rate is likely due to some labs and public testing sites being closed over the holiday, which increases the percentage of tests conducted in medical settings where patients are experiencing symptoms and suspect they have the virus.

“Every day we are reminded how fragile the progress we have made in defeating this virus really is,” he stated. “We will wait and watch closely over the coming days and weeks to gauge the impact the holidays may have had on our recent success in slowing new case growth. With more vaccines arriving in 2021, we have a new sense of hope but right now we must all continue to do our part to stop this virus, including wearing a mask and avoiding large in-person gatherings.”

Three executive orders have been renewed by the governor to remain in effect during the month of January:

• The CDC has extended its moratorium on evictions through Jan. 31, so he renewed a previous executive order, mandating that the CDC moratorium also applies in Kentucky through that date.

• He also renewed the state’s face coverings mandate for an additional 30 days, effective Jan. 2.

• In addition, the governor extended previous orders allowing pharmacists to dispense 30-day refills without a new prescription for many medications. The current executive order would expire at the end of Jan. 3, so the new order will be effective for 30 days beginning Jan. 4.

To view the full daily COVID-19 report for Kentucky, which includes such information as the red zone counties and red zone recommendations, testing locations, the weekly White House Coronavirus Task Force reports for Kentucky, details on school reopening, executive orders, vaccine distribution, and more information on the state’s pandemic response, go to kycovid19.ky.gov.

The governor’s next live press briefing is scheduled to be held Monday afternoon at 3 p.m. (CT) and can be viewed on both his YouTube and Facebook pages.

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