Birx recommends Kentucky officials close bars, limit restaurant capacity
Deborah Birx, the coordinator of the White House coronavirus task force, on Sunday recommended that Kentucky close bars and curtail restaurant capacity in a meeting with state officials.
“We have significant concerns about the rising test positivity rate and the rising number of cases,” Birx said Sunday in a meeting with Gov. Andy Beshear (D) and state health experts, according to the Lexington-Herald. “We can see what is happening in the south moving north.”
Birx said that while Kentucky is not currently in the same alarming position as states like Florida and Texas, the state is among those in the “yellow zone” of rising cases.
The state’s positivity rate for coronavirus testing has risen in recent weeks, standing at 5.41 percent as of Saturday. Beshear has made face masks mandatory statewide and limited gatherings of people to 10 or fewer. He has also said that the state is likely to next reduce restaurant capacity to 25 percent and close bars if numbers do not level out in the days ahead.
Beshear is set to make a detailed announcement on next steps Monday, as well as issue a statement on “where we are” in regard to the reopening of public schools in the fall.
The White House has aggressively pushed for resuming full, in-person classes nationwide, but many districts around the country, including Fayette County, Ky., Public Schools, have said they will begin the year with online-only classes.
Birx said Kentucky is one of several Southern states in which a major driver of the uptick in cases is younger people unknowingly contracting the virus and spreading it to older relatives. People in their 20s comprise 19 percent of total Kentucky cases.
“This current wave of infections is very much across the state, probably due to people being exposed unknowingly when they are out and about, who have then brought those infections back to their homes and back to their home counties,” she said.