Gov. Andy Beshear announced several steps on July 20 that the state has taken to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 related to travel and social gatherings, the day after Kentucky’s highest single-day number of reported COVID-19 cases.
Beshear announced during his press briefing on July 20 that state officials have now issued a travel advisory in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19 cases through travel, which he said is one of the ways in which COVID-19 spreads the most in Kentucky.
“If we look at the clusters of cases we have, it is ‘traveled to Myrtle Beach,’ ‘traveled to Myrtle Beach,’ ‘traveled to Florida to a beach,’ ‘traveled to another South Carolina beach,’” Beshear said. “Sadly, a person will travel to a beach — a place where 1 in 5 people are testing positive — and they’ll come back and they’ll go to work and go to church, and they’ll do a number of other things. And it spreads throughout those areas, too, and it can shut down the work, it can impact the church and it’s something that we’ve gotta take stronger steps toward.”
The travel advisory recommends for people who travel to states with 15 percent or higher rates of positive COVID-19 cases to quarantine themselves for 14 days upon returning to Kentucky. The states he included as examples of states with high percentages of positive cases include Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Mississippi, Nevada, South Carolina and Texas.
“This is a request for each of the individuals, but folks, 15 percent is really dangerous,” Beshear said. “What this means is that these are areas where, right now, this virus is uncontrolled, and I’m not blaming any of these areas. … But these are areas where, right now, we know they aren’t safe.”
Beshear said state officials also wanted to take another step toward addressing the spread of COVID-19 through social gatherings, which is another way that the virus has spread throughout communities. He said the state is now asking the public to reduce the number of guests at social gatherings from 50 people down to 10. He said this is not related to organized events or economic sectors, like businesses, restaurants or other facilities. He said this relates to social gatherings that people have in their backyards, like backyard barbecues, which he said is where people let their guard down and don’t maintain social distancing.
“That doesn’t affect any businesses, any venues, any outdoor weddings, those are all regulated by other things that are out there and they have licenses that give them the motivation to clean and to do the right things," Beshear said. "We’re just seeing too much spread from 50 people getting together in somebody’s backyard or in their neighborhood. I know 10 is different, but 10 is much more manageable. It can contain the spread, and if everybody could help us out with that, again, we don’t want to become Arizona or Florida.”
These changes come after Kentucky saw its highest number of reported cases of COVID-19 on July 19, with 979 new COVID-19 cases being reported in the state. 30 of those cases came from children who were 5 years-old or younger.