Berea college cancels semester

For the first time, a case of COVID-19 has been confirmed on campus of Berea College.

A student in the Deep Green tested positive for the coronavirus recently and currently is under quarantine.

"Contact tracing has been completed (and) no close contacts were identified, but a second student is being tested out of an abundance of caution and is being isolated until we have the results," Berea College President Lyle Roelofs said. "The common areas in Deep Green that might have been contaminated were thoroughly cleaned and sanitized by FM (Tuesday) morning."

Roelofs said both students are upbeat.

"Both students are in good spirits and receiving support from Student Life and other campus offices," he said.

Madison County reported 21 cases on Tuesday. Overall, 447 cases have been confirmed in the county, 210 are recovering at home, two are hospitalized and 234 have recovered from the virus. Only one death has been recorded in Madison County since the pandemic began last March.

The number of new cases of the coronavirus in Kentucky rose slightly on Tuesday, as did the number of deaths, according to Gov. Andy Beshear.

There were 532 new cases reported, bringing the total to 28,126; while there were 10 new deaths, making it 719 Kentuckians who have lost their lives to COVID-19.  He also noted 22 children ages five or younger were among those who tested positive.

The deaths reported Tuesday include a 74-year-old woman from Butler County; an 84-year-old man from Fayette County; two women, ages 86 and 87, and an 82-year-old man from Jefferson County; two women, ages 89 and 101, and an 83-year-old man from Logan County; a 37-year-old man from Lyon County; and a 73-year-old woman from Oldham County.

“If we don’t take action,” Beshear said during a Capitol press briefing, “if we don’t all buy in and do our patriotic duty to stop this virus, we’ll continue to have significant loss.  I believe Tennessee reported over 2,500 new cases today, and Oklahoma, a state with less population than Kentucky, has reported over 1,000 new cases each of the last three days.”

He said his goal “is to act quickly, to not let it get dire before we take the steps we need, and to fully commit to be doing what it takes to protect our people, keep our economy open, and ultimately get our kids back in school.”    

The Governor said he is taking the advice of the White House to stop the escalation of cases.  The four steps include:

--A statewide facial covering, or mask, mandate, which he imposed for a month, and says he will likely renew it.

--Limiting non-commercial social gatherings to ten people or less.

--Closing bars for two weeks.

--Reducing restaurant inside capacity to 25 percent for two weeks, while allowing unlimited outdoor capacity, with proper social distancing.  He says is hopeful of raising that capacity after two weeks.

Beshear also noted his travel advisory, where people who return from a state with a COVID-19 test positivity rate of over 15 percent, are asked to self-quarantine for two weeks.  Those states are currently, Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Mississippi, Nevada, South Carolina and Texas.

By comparison, Kentucky’s positivity rate on Tuesday dropped slightly, to 5.08 percent, according to a 10-day rolling average. 

“Today, again, tough news for Florida and Texas: Florida setting a record for deaths in a single day and in Texas, every six minutes and 16 seconds they are losing someone to COVID-19,” the Governor said. “But again, we are at a point in time where we have the ability to stop this before it gets anywhere close to what we’ve seen in those states.”

Currently, there are no in-person service locations available in the state for those who have unresolved unemployment claims out in the state, and the Frankfort location is booked through the end of September.

“During the last two weeks,” Beshear explained, “we pulled our people back in, so that we can get through that last step we have talked about, of getting the claims that Ernst and Young have gone through into that final step.  We have 63,000 claims that are 95 percent done, but the federal government makes us write a two-page letter, that’s basically and opinion that we need to have.”

He expects to have an announcement later this week about in-person services for next week.

The governor’s next press briefing on the coronavirus will be Wednesday at 4 p.m.

Tom Latek of Kentucky Today contributed to this article.

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