FRANKFORT - Gov. Andy Beshear announced an additional 611 new cases of COVID-19 and seven additional deaths linked to the virus in Kentucky during his press conference Thursday.

During his report, Beshear only read the names of counties reported to have 10 or more new cases Thursday. Beshear reported that Laurel County had 19 new cases.

He also reported one death in Knox County and one death in Whitley County.

Knox County Health Department reported on Thursday the death was a Christian Health Center resident.

According to Marcy Rein, public health director for the Whitley County Department, the death reported by Beshear in Whitley County was reported by the health department Tuesday.

“Each case we report is a person that we vet to make sure they reside in our county, they meet case definition, and they are not a duplicate/repeated test,” said Rein. “People often get multiple tests, and while the state also scrubs for duplicates, our timing isn’t always in sync.”

Other factors like determining a person’s address, contacting a person directly and the many different labs and reporting mechanisms also contribute to the discrepancies between reports.

“Often Corbin addresses are automatically attributed to Whitley County, even when they belong to Knox or Laurel. Sometimes a positive test does not meet case definition but determining that requires a conversation with the person,” said Rein. “All of that, along with many, many labs all reporting in different ways on different schedules leads things to look inconsistent. Multiple staff at our Health Department spend hours addressing these things every day as well as coordinating with our neighboring counties and regional staff. I am confident that the numbers we report are accurate for our county. The state’s overall numbers are correct, but less accurate when drilling down to the location.”

The Whitley County Health Department reported five new cases all of which were lab confirmed on Thursday.

The Laurel County Health Department reported 18 new cases. The age of individuals range from 8 weeks to 68 years old. All 18 are recovering at home.

The Knox County Health Department reported four new cases on Thursday.

Overall in Kentucky, Beshear reported that the total number of cases is 25,147. Of those, 23,882 are lab confirmed and 1,265 are probable.

Kentucky has an overall positivity rate of 4.94 percent. 581 individuals are hospitalized with 135 being in the ICU, or intensive care unit.

Beshear announced that another 21 children under the age of five have been diagnosed with the virus. Those children are from 13 counties.

Cabinet for Health and Family Services Secretary Eric Friedlander announced that he has signed a contract that will allow laboratories to bill the cabinet directly for maintenance testing of all staff and residents in nursing facilities across Kentucky. The cabinet is asking facilities to have testing every two weeks for staff.

“We do feel that it is our responsibility, since we are asking people to test, that we should provide the means to do that today,” said Friedlander.

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