Kentucky

health

Kentucky reports near-record number of new coronavirus cases

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Kentucky reported a near-record number of new coronavirus cases Friday as the surging outbreak continued sending more people to hospitals, Gov. Andy Beshear said.

“This is a dangerous time. We’re moving the wrong way,” the Democratic governor said as he urged Kentuckians to wear masks in public to protect themselves and those around them.

Beshear reported 1,941 new COVID-19 cases — the second-highest statewide daily total since the pandemic began — and 15 more virus-related deaths.

The state’s positivity rate reached 6.19% — the highest level since May 6, he said.


The recent surge has led to rising hospitalizations. On Friday, there were 974 patients hospitalized in Kentucky due to the virus, the governor said, noting the number of COVID-19 patients in intensive care rose to 241.

“Remember, the more cases, the more people in the hospital, the more people in the ICU and the more people who die,” Beshear said.

Total statewide COVID-19 cases surpassed 105,000, and the virus-related death toll reached at least 1,476. The latest deaths announced included people ranging in ages from 39 to 91.

More than half of Kentucky’s counties are listed in the most serious category for COVID-19 incidence rates. Schools in red-zone counties are urged to hold only virtual classes because of high virus transmission rates in their communities.

Beshear has recommended those counties take stricter steps to contain the virus’s spread.

People in those counties are urged to avoid hosting or attending gatherings of any size. Employers should allow employees to work from home when possible, and noncritical government offices should operate virtually. In-person shopping should be reduced, with people opting to order online for pickup. And people are urged to avoid nonessential activities outside their home.

“As a community, we’ve got to be following those red-zone reductions, because if we don’t it costs lives of our neighbors around us,” the governor said Friday. “It’s time for a coordinated community effort with everybody on board. … Now is the time for leadership, not for excuses.”

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms that clear up within weeks. But for others, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, the virus can cause severe symptoms and be fatal. The vast majority of people recover.

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Follow AP’s pandemic coverage at https://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak.

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Appeals court upholds Kentucky abortion law requiring clinics to have transfer agreements with hospitals

A federal appeals court on Friday upheld a Kentucky law that requires abortion clinics to have written agreements with a hospital and ambulance service in case of medical emergencies.

The 2-1 ruling from the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reverses a 2018 district court ruling that found the law, first passed in 1998, violated constitutionally protected due process rights.

EMW Women’s Surgical Center first challenged the law in 2017 after a licensing fight with then-Gov. Matt Bevin (R). EMW was the only clinic that provided abortions at the time, and Bevin claimed that it lacked proper transfer agreements and took steps to shut it down.

Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky joined the suit later on, claiming that Bevin had used these transfer agreements to block its request for a license to provide abortions. After Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear took office in 2019, the two clinics were allowed to provide abortions.

The court wrote that the “district court erred in concluding that Kentucky would be left without an abortion facility,” according to The Associated Press, and dismissed the clinics’ argument that they were at risk of closing. It further said that the law allows clinics to apply for a 90-day waiver if they are denied a licensing agreement, which they could theoretically reapply for and continue to operate.

“(We) must presume that the Inspector General will consider waiver applications in good faith and will not act ‘simply to make it more difficult for (women) to obtain an abortion,’” the ruling read.

In his dissenting opinion, Judge Eric Clay wrote that it “condones the evisceration of the constitutional right to abortion access in Kentucky.”

“At the end of the day, no matter what standard this Court is bound to apply, the majority’s decision today is terribly and tragically wrong,” he wrote.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky, which represented the clinics, said in a statement that Kentucky’s law means abortion providers have to navigate “needless red tape every 90 days” and warned that the state could be the first without any abortion providers if the governor refuses to grant the waiver.

“This is what it looks like when politicians chip away at protections under Roe — pushing medically unnecessary laws that jeopardize abortion access without ever overturning Roe,” Chris Charbonneau, CEO of Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky, said in a statement.

“It must be stated that we are in a dangerous moment for abortion rights and what this moment calls for is leadership to put all people before politics and do what’s necessary to ensure every person has access to the care they need and deserve,” Charbonneau added.

Abortion rights have become a hot-button issue this election, as Democrats worry that the impending Senate confirmation of Judge Amy Coney BarrettAmy Coney BarrettRepublicans increasingly seek distance from Trump Overnight Health Care: Pfizer could apply for vaccine authorization by late November | State health officials say they need .4B for vaccination effort | CDC: Blacks, Hispanics dying of COVID-19

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