Gov. Andy Beshear, in his first public press conference since completing quarantine after being exposed to the COVID-19 virus, announced Oct. 26 new “Red Zone Reduction Recommendations” for counties which are considered as being classified as “red.”

Red counties are counties where the incidence rate of the disease is greater than 25 cases per 100,000 people. As of Oct. 26, Pike County’s rate was 23.9, Floyd County’s rate was 32.1, Johnson County’s rate was 32.2 and Perry County’s was 41.6.

The “Red Zone Reduction Recommendations,” Beshear said, should be considered to begin on the Monday following a Thursday in which a county is identified as being in the red.

The recommendations are:

• Employers allow employees to work from home when possible

• Non-critical government offices to operate virtually

• Reduce in-person shopping; order online or curbside pickup

• Order take-out; avoid dining in restaurants or bars

• Prioritize businesses that follow and enforce mask mandate and other guidelines

• Reschedule, postpone or cancel public and private events

• Do not host or attend gatherings of any size

• Avoid non-essential activities outside your home

• Reduce overall activity and contacts, and follow existing guidance.

Beshear said the recommendations are not mandated, but, if a county’s residents will follow them for a week after being identified as being in the red, the county will likely move out of that range.

Beshear said Kentucky is on a “significant and severe escalation,” in terms of the disease, with 953 new cases statewide announced, with 858 Kentuckians hospitalized with the disease, 253 in intensive care and 112 on a ventilator.

Beshear said it is incumbent on each person in the state to do their part to fight the disease.

“It is our job as a commonwealth and as a country to turn this around,” he said. “The current escalation we are on is already higher than the second and certainly higher than the first.”

Beshear said many steps the commonwealth has taken remain in place, such as a mask mandate. In addition, he said, “Healthy at Work” requirements, such as curfews on bars and restaurants, as well as limits on retail businesses and restrictions on indoor and outdoor arenas, remain in place.

Beshear said increased restrictions and guidelines would not be necessary if compliance was reached on the guidelines already in place.

“If more people would follow these restrictions, we wouldn’t have to take additional steps,” he said.

Beshear also pushed back against the assertion that increased testing is the reason case numbers are higher.

“The level and number of tests ... does not explain away our higher case numbers,” Beshear said.

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