Louisville's offensive line continues streak, showing it can be strength of the team – Courier-Journal

By |2021-10-24T06:43:26-04:00October 24th, 2021|COVID-19|

Louisville offensive line coach Jack Bicknell took a lot of criticism early in the season after the offensive line he said may be the best he’s ever had, started the year slow.  Games against Ole Miss and Eastern Kentucky left a lot to be desired from a group that returned four starters and had loads of experience across the board.  It was supposed to be the strength of the team, carrying a group of talented, but unexperienced running backs, and helping quarterback Malik Cunningham find his new crop of receivers.  Don’t look now, but the offensive line looks every bit as talented as the coaching staff raved about during the offseason. Play-by-play:Louisville 28, Boston College 14, final updates and scoresLouisville ran for 331 yards against Boston College on Saturday. It averaged seven yards per carry and had two players run over 100 yards in Cunningham with 133 and Trevion Cooley with 112.Those aren’t just season-high numbers, either. Louisville ran for more than 300 yards just three prior times in Scott Satterfield’s tenure, with the last time coming in a 31-17 loss to Virginia in 2020. The other two times were against a terrible 2019 Syracuse team and Eastern Kentucky in 2019.  Saturday, Louisville did it against a Boston College team that gave up an average of 125.50 yards in six games and 3.8 yards per rush.  Louisville’s rushing attack was the only thing working for the offense and as the running back trio of Jalen Mitchell, Cooley and Hassan Hall have improved, they have a much-improved offensive line to thank. Cooley did as much on Saturday.  "Hats off to those guys," Cooley said. "It's hard switching from one coach to another on short notice, right before the season starts. Hats off to them for adjusting to a different coach. Obviously, everybody's different, but those guys work hard." Cooley had a milestone day on Saturday. The 112 yards marked the first 100-yard day for the freshman, but it was also his first 100-yard day since the 2019 football season.  Due to COVID-19 the North Carolina native didn’t have a 2020 high school season, and he took some time to get adjusted to college during spring practice. He was banged up and in the summer he admitted he was a tad out of shape, but Cunningham knew he was special.  He’s showing it now, despite the fumble in the fourth quarter.  "Since his first day here, he came early, I knew he had something in him," Cunningham said. "We have the three-headed monster back there and him coming in finishing the game how he did, hats off to him."U of L football:Louisville co-defensive coordinator Cort Dennison on personal leave of absenceLouisville’s running back room was thought to be a deep group, and it’s been just that this season. Mitchell has been the power back, averaging 4.4 yards per carry, while Cooley and Hall have been the explosive duo.  Since the win over Florida State, the running backs have stepped up to make a difference in the running game. Louisville ran for 208 yards against Wake Forest, for 233 against Virginia and then 331 against Boston College.  Part of that is the improvement up front.  Louisville hasn’t benched or rotated in different players; they’ve just clicked better and it’s obvious. Louisville averaged 4.8 yards per carry against Wake Forest, 6.8 against Virginia and expanded that on Saturday.  It was the outside zone, on Saturday, that the Eagles had no answer for.  "Honestly, the outside zone, it was killing them," Cooley said. "Then our offensive line came out with the mindset of ‘You can't stop me. You're going to have to bust me in the mouth to stop me.' That's what helped us become so successful."Louisville is the only team in the ACC to be in the top-20 in both sacks allowed and tackles for a loss allowed. Through six games, the Cardinals have allowed just eight sacks — none on Saturday — and 25 tackles for a loss. Saturday was also the first time since 2008 the offensive line went back-to-back weeks without a sack allowed. The turnovers have to be cut down, Hall and Cooley can’t fumble in the same game, but if the Cardinals can lean on their running game, the offense can take another step.  I’m not sure if the offensive line has yet lived up to being the best Bicknell has ever had, but it’s becoming one of the best in the ACC and one Louisville can rely on when it runs the ball.  “We challenge the offensive line every week to put our offense on their back, so when the passing game isn’t working, then we are able to lean on the running game," Cunningham said. "That is what we did today.” Cameron Teague Robinson CTeagueRob@gannett.com; Twitter: @cj_teague; 

After slamming COVID-19 rules, Tritt sings anthem at NLCS – USA Today

By |2021-10-23T22:21:12-04:00October 23rd, 2021|COVID-19|

ATLANTA (AP) — Country musician Travis Tritt, who canceled shows at venues that required a COVID-19 vaccine or mask-wearing, sang the national anthem before Game 6 of the NL Championship Series on Saturday night.Wearing a Braves jersey, Tritt received a smattering of applause when he was announced as a “country music legend.”There was a problem with Tritt's microphone, but a worker quickly handed him a backup mic that allowed him to sing “The Star-Spangled Banner” without any further issues.After belting out the final words, Tritt patted his heart to a loud round of applause from the crowd of some 41,000. He lingered a bit in the prime seats behind home plate, bumping fists, shaking hands and chatting up the largely mask-less fans.The 58-year-old Tritt is a native of suburban Marietta, not far from the Braves' stadium. He has been a vocal supporter of Atlanta's sports teams, even penning a forgettable 2004 ode to the city's NFL team, “Falcons Fever.”Tritt announced this week he was canceling shows in Indiana, Mississippi, Illinois and Kentucky over COVID-19 mandates, joining other prominent entertainers such as Eric Clapton and Van Morrison in protesting rules designed to curb the spread of a virus that has killed more than 700,000 Americans and nearly 5 million people around the world.Tritt told Billboard that he’s “not against the vaccine” but is “against forcing people to take medicine that they may not need and may not want.”In August, he released a statement claiming COVID-19 safety protocols were “discriminating” against concertgoers and said that he stood with those standing up against “the squelching of any specific freedoms and basic human rights around the world.”The Braves' stadium, Truist Park, has allowed full capacity most of the season with no requirements for vaccinations, negative tests or mask-wearing from fans.Major League Baseball does require vaccines for non-playing personnel to be allowed access to the field.“Our policy in the playoff is non-vaccinated people are not allowed in restricted areas, and the field is a restricted area,” said John Blundell, MLB's vice president of communications.It wasn't clear if Tritt has been vaccinated against COVID-19, but that was a moot point. He sang the anthem from the Truist Club seating area behind the backstop.The selection of Tritt to perform the anthem came as Braves outfielder Jorge Soler said he has reconsidered his initial reluctance to get the vaccine.Soler tested positive for COVID-19 before Game 4 of the NLDS and was removed from the Braves' roster. He had no symptoms and was able to return for Game 5 against the Dodgers.“I feel way different now,” Soler said through a translator. “I feel bad about it, and I’m going to get a shot as soon as I can.”Tritt is a two-time Grammy winner who has had five songs go to No. 1 on the country music charts, the most recent being “Best of Intentions” in 2000.Tritt was followed to the mic by another country music star, Atlanta native Zac Brown, who delivered a boisterous “Play Ball” before the first pitch.___Follow Paul Newberry on Twitter at https://twitter.com/pnewberry1963 and find his work at https://apnews.com/search/paulnewberry___AP Sports Writer Charles Odum contributed to this report.___More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Indiana's governor asks court to review emergency law ruling – WHAS11

By |2021-10-23T19:37:10-04:00October 23rd, 2021|COVID-19|

Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb said he has appealed the Marion County judge’s ruling to Indiana Supreme Court to seek “clarity and finality on this important issue.” INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana’s governor is asking the state’s high court to review a judge’s ruling that upheld a new law giving legislators more power to intervene during public health emergencies. Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb said Friday in a statement that he has appealed the Marion County judge’s ruling to Indiana Supreme Court to seek “clarity and finality on this important issue.” The Republican-dominated Legislature enacted the law over Holcomb’s veto following criticism from conservatives over a statewide mask mandate and other COVID-19 restrictions that Holcomb had imposed by executive orders. The measure establishes a new process under which legislative leaders can call the General Assembly into what it calls an “emergency session.” Holcomb’s lawsuit argued that the law violates a state constitutional provision allowing only the governor to call the Legislature into a special session.  In an Oct. 7 ruling, Marion Superior Judge Patrick Dietrick said the state constitution gives the General Assembly the authority to determine when and for how long it will meet. In a prepared statement Friday, Holcomb said his lawsuit “is about making sure that state government operates the way our constitution outlines.” “The proper functioning of state government is critical, especially during times of emergency. Our State, and its people, deserve clarity and finality on this important issue, which is why I am filing an appeal today,” Holcomb added. Republican state Attorney General Todd Rokita has sided with legislators in defending the new law. Rokita’s office released statement critiquing the governor’s appeal, The Indianapolis Star reported. “He got his answer. Turns out he didn’t like the answer,” the statement said. “So, now the taxpayers have to continue to be on the hook for his lawsuit.” ►Make it easy to keep up-to-date with more stories like this. Download the WHAS11 News app now. For Apple or Android users.   Have a news tip? Email assign@whas11.com, visit our Facebook page or Twitter feed.  

After slamming COVID-19 rules, Tritt to sing anthem at NLCS | National | wdrb.com

By |2021-10-23T19:10:13-04:00October 23rd, 2021|COVID-19|

ATLANTA (AP) — Country musician Travis Tritt, who canceled shows at venues that required a COVID-19 vaccine or mask-wearing, was set to sing the national anthem before Game 6 of the NL Championship Series on Saturday night.Tritt made the announcement on his Twitter page.“FYI - I will be singing our National Anthem for Game 6 of the NLCS in Atlanta tonight between the @Braves and @Dodgers,” he wrote, adding an American flag to his post.The 58-year-old Tritt is a native of suburban Marietta, not far from the Braves' stadium. He has been a vocal supporter of Atlanta's sports teams, even penning a forgettable 2004 ode to the city's NFL team, “Falcons Fever.”Tritt announced this week he was canceling shows in Indiana, Mississippi, Illinois and Kentucky over COVID-19 mandates, joining other prominent entertainers such as Eric Clapton and Van Morrison in protesting rules designed to curb the spread of a virus that has killed more than 700,000 Americans and nearly 5 million people around the world.Tritt told Billboard that he’s “not against the vaccine” but is “against forcing people to take medicine that they may not need and may not want.”In August, he released a statement claiming COVID-19 safety protocols were “discriminating” against concertgoers and said that he stood with those standing up against “the squelching of any specific freedoms and basic human rights around the world.”The Braves' 41,000-seat stadium, Truist Park, has allowed full capacity most of the season with no requirements for vaccinations, negative tests or mask-wearing from fans.Major League Baseball does require vaccines for non-playing personnel to be allowed access to the field.“Our policy in the playoff is non-vaccinated people are not allowed in restricted areas, and the field is a restricted area,” said John Blundell, MLB's vice president of communications.It wasn't clear if Tritt has been vaccinated against COVID-19, but that was apparently a moot point. The Braves said he would sing the anthem from the Truist Club seating area behind home plate.The selection of Tritt to perform the anthem came as Braves outfielder Jorge Soler said he has reconsidered his initial reluctance to get the vaccine.Soler tested positive for COVID-19 before Game 4 of the NLDS and was removed from the Braves' roster. He had no symptoms and was able to return for Game 5 against the Dodgers.“I feel way different now,” Soler said through a translator. “I feel bad about it, and I’m going to get a shot as soon as I can.”Tritt is a two-time Grammy winner who has had five songs go to No. 1 on the country music charts, the most recent being “Best of Intentions” in 2000.———Follow Paul Newberry on Twitter at https://twitter.com/pnewberry1963 and find his work at https://apnews.com/search/paulnewberry———AP Sports Writer Charles Odum contributed to this report.———More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP—Sports

UofL oncologist says patients are putting off important health screenings – WLKY

By |2021-10-23T14:30:27-04:00October 23rd, 2021|COVID-19|

STUDENTS TO WORK IN UNDERSERVED AREAS. THE PANDEMIC IS ALSO CAUSING PEOPLE TO PUT OFF IMPORTANT HEALTH SCREENINGS AS A RESULT LOCAL DOCTORS ARE SEEING MORE PATIENTS WITH ADVANCED STAGE CANCERS, LIKE BREAST CANCER. THEY’RE URGING WOMEN NOTO T PUT OFF THEIR ANNUAL MAMMOGRAM. EVERY WOMAN SHOULD BE THINKING ABOUT HER. I KNOW IT’S NOT THE MOST FUN THING, BUT YOU SHOULD AT LEAST THINK ABOUT YOUR WRISTND A IN SOME CASES YOU SHOULD TALK TO A SPECIALISTS. EVEN IF IT’S JUST ONE TIME SO YOU CAN KNOW FOR YOURSELF THE STBE THING THAT YOU CAN DO GOING FORWARD. RESEARCH FINDS ONE AND EIGHT WOMENIL WLE B DIAGNOSED WITH BREAST CANCER IN THEIR LIFETIME, BUT THE SOONER IT’S DETECTED THE MORE TREATMENT OPT

Vaccine appears to work in young kids, FDA says: COVID updates – USA Today

By |2021-10-23T14:30:28-04:00October 23rd, 2021|COVID-19, Election 2020|

Federal health regulators said for the first time late Friday that kid-size doses of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine appear highly effective at preventing symptomatic infections in elementary school children and caused no unexpected safety issues.The Food and Drug Administration posted its analysis of Pfizer’s data ahead of a public meeting next week to debate whether the shots are ready for the nation’s roughly 28 million children ages 5 to 11. The agency will ask a panel of outside vaccine experts to vote on that question and is expected to authorize the vaccine for young children as early as next week.In their analysis, FDA scientists concluded that in almost every scenario the vaccine's benefit for preventing hospitalizations and death from COVID-19 would outweigh any serious potential side effects in children. But agency reviewers stopped short of calling for Pfizer's shot to be authorized immediately.If the FDA authorizes the shots, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will make additional recommendations on who should receive them the first week of November. Children could begin vaccinations early next month.Also in the news:► Health officials in Utah investigated vaccination status by astrological sign, and the news didn't bode well for Scorpios, who had the lowest vaccination rates of all the signs.► Connecticut prison workers top the list of state employees failing to comply with a state vaccination mandate, making up 32% of the state workers who haven't gotten vaccines. The mandate applies to more than 55,000 day care staff at nearly 2,900 day care centers.► All daycare workers in Illinois must either be vaccinated against COVID by early January or submit to weekly testing, Gov. J.B. Pritzker ordered Friday.► Despite the upcoming rollout of vaccines for younger children, the CDC will continue to recommend learners and employees at schools wear masks. Here are the best ones.📈 Today's numbers: The U.S. has recorded more than 45.3 million confirmed COVID-19 cases and more than 735,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. Global totals: More than 242.8 million cases and 4.9 million deaths. More than 190,000 million Americans — 57.3% of the population — are fully vaccinated, according to the CDC.📘 What we're reading: Vaccines are being attacked by a fresh voice advocating for natural immunity — Florida's surgeon general. Dr. Joseph Ladapo has blasted the efficacy of COVID vaccines while insisting the administration supports them.Keep refreshing this page for the latest news. Want more? Sign up for USA TODAY's Coronavirus Watch newsletter to receive updates directly to your inbox and join our Facebook group.Study shows lower mortality rates for vaccinated peoplePeople who are vaccinated against COVID-19 are less likely to die, even from causes not related to COVID. That's according to a new study released by the CDC that examined death rates among vaccinated and nonvaccinated Americans. The study concluded that there is no increased risk of death from getting vaccinated, highlighting the safety of vaccines.The study included data from 11 million people and was conducted between December 2020 and July 2021. After adjusting for age, sex and other demographic characteristics, the data showed that vaccinated people had lower mortality rates than nonvaccinated people from all causes.The relative risk of non-COVID mortality for people fully vaccinated with Pfizer was 0.41. The risk for Moderna recipients who were fully vaccinated was 0.34. Recipients of the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine had a 0.54 relative mortality risk for non-COVID causes."This finding reinforces the safety profile of currently approved COVID-19 vaccines in the United States," the study said.Delta variant doesn't cause more serious illness, study saysThere was no evidence that people who had a lab-confirmed case of COVID from the delta variant had a higher risk of more severe illness than people infected with other variants of the disease, according to a new CDC study.While the delta variant is much more transmissible than previous strains, the study of data from 14 states saw no higher proportion of people with severe outcomes.However, the proportion of unvaccinated people hospitalized with the delta variant did increase, and "lower vaccination coverage in adults aged 18–49 years likely contributed to the increase in hospitalized patients during the Delta period," the study found.COVID-19 taking a growing toll on Kentucky's depleted nursing corpsRepeated waves of COVID-19 cases, long hours and chronic staff shortages are taking a severe toll on Kentucky's nurses with many citing stress, burnout and distress over encounters with hostile patients and family members.Further, as the pandemic drags on, nurses once viewed as health care heroes have found themselves confronted by some critics who claim COVID-19 isn't real or are angry about measures such as vaccines and wearing masks. The Kentucky Nurses Association released a survey of nurses statewide about the state of their profession on Friday.Some of the findings:A boom in the travel nurse industry — in which private agencies hire nurses to work in other regions or states at much higher pay — is further depleting the ranks of Kentucky nurses as the COVID-19 pandemic reaches into its 20th month.And nurses already overwhelmed by surges of hospitalized COVID-19 patients are now experiencing waves of critical illness and death driven by the delta variant, largely among unvaccinated patients.– Deborah Yetter, The Louisville Courier JournalContributing: The Associated Press

UPS helps plant trees in South Louisville to help with green space study – MSN

By |2021-10-23T19:10:14-04:00October 23rd, 2021|COVID-19|

Louisville's tree canopy grew Friday with some help from UPS. © Provided by WLKY Louisville ups workers plant trees UPS partnered with the Nature Conservancy, the Arbor Day Foundation and Louisville Grows to plant trees in South Louisville as part of the "green heart Louisville" project. The goal of the scientific study is to look at the health benefits of urban greening. Load Error Sign up for our NewslettersThe Green Heart Louisville project is a six-year scientific study and first of its kind, controlled experiment to test if increasing green space and infrastructure in a neighborhood improves air quality and human health while creating healthier communities."It really is like a classical clinical trial except we are out in these communities, we are out in these neighborhoods, and we are planting trees, and that's the intervention," said David Phemister, state director for The Nature Conservancy.There will be a community planting Saturday at Wyandotte Park. Volunteers are asked to show their COVID-19 vaccination card or proof of a negative test.READ THE FULL STORY:UPS helps plant trees in South Louisville to help with green space studyCHECK OUT WLKY:Live. Local. Late-Breaking. Get the top Louisville news, weather and sports from the team at WLKY – online, anytime. Continue Reading Show full articles without "Continue Reading" button for {0} hours.

Shortage of EMS workers at “crisis” level, threat of 911 system – Texas News Today

By |2021-10-23T17:28:23-04:00October 23rd, 2021|COVID-19|

Emergency medical service providers across the United States have warned that healthcare shortages have reached “crisis” levels in many areas, and Congress has reached the point where problems are threatening the 911 system. Is warning. The American Ambulance Association wrote to the leaders of the House of Representatives and the Senate, saying, “The national EMS system is facing a serious labor shortage, a long-term problem that has been built for over a decade. A 9-1 infrastructure that can undermine an emergency and deserves urgent attention from the Senate. “ After Memphis Fire Department Chief Gina Sweat said on August 13, 2021 in Memphis, Tennessee, U.S.A., emergency services were overwhelmed by the number of patients with coronavirus disease (COVID-19) and expected wait times. , The patient was taken off the ambulance. REUTERS / Karen Pulfer Focht(Reuters / Karen Parfer Foct) National labor shortage puts a burden on waste management “The scale has really grown in the last few months,” Sean Baird, president of the American Ambulance Association, told NBC News. “Adopting an already fragile and stretched system puts a public health emergency and all the additional burden it puts on our workforce and workforce, as there were not enough people in the field. The shortage of the economy as a whole, and it really put us in a crisis. “ “We’re not just at stake, we’re at stake,” Julie Kaiser, town manager in Waldoboro, Maine, told the Maine News Center. The Houston Fire Department’s EMS Medic put a Covid-positive patient in an ambulance on August 20, 2021 in Houston, Texas. (Photo courtesy of John Moore / Getty Images) American Airlines, IBM give unvaccinated employees firing, stop warning Kaiser told outlets that one of the main reasons for the crisis in her town was the obligation of the state’s COVID-19 vaccine to health care workers, including ambulance services. “When the mandate comes, our service is considering losing three people, and the other services are considering losing people, which exacerbates the problem.” “Some of the problems are that everyone didn’t want to lose their jobs, so I think everyone thought they (workers) would follow,” she continued. “But when you look at the wage rates of rescue workers, they can make more delivery packages than patients.” On September 13, 2021, members of the Louisville Metro Emergency Medical Services will place a patient experiencing a suspected COVID-19 emergency in an ambulance outside the patient’s home in Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo by John Cherry / Getty Images) Click here to get the Fox News app Deborah Clapp, executive director of Western Mass Medical Services in Massachusetts, also pointed to the burnout of low-wage and overworked key personnel as the driving force behind those leaving walking services. “What if a disaster of some sort happens? The disaster doesn’t have to be that big in western Massachusetts,” she told FOX6. Meanwhile, 9-1-1 is still being asked for a heart attack, a baby birth, a car accident … There is one trauma center in western Massachusetts. One level 1 trauma center. “

Survey explains reasons behind Kentucky nurse shortage – WAVE 3

By |2021-10-23T06:37:44-04:00October 23rd, 2021|COVID-19|

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Kentucky healthcare systems have been plagued by a nursing shortage, and a new survey conducted by the Kentucky Nurses Association revealed there are several driving factors including low pay, lack of staff, and exhaustion.On Friday, the Kentucky Nurses Association and the Kentucky Organization of Nurse Leaders held a virtual press conference to discuss the survey’s results, which included responses from more than 850 nurses from around the state.The survey sited the top ranked reasons for the nurse shortage in Kentucky as lack of sufficient nursing staff, not enough pay, physical exhaustion, fear of transmitting COVID-19 to family and friends, lack of support staff, and lack of support from other nurses and management.“I have been a nurse for over 40 years, and I have never experienced what is happening to us right now during this pandemic of COVID-19,” Delanor Manson, CEO of the Kentucky Nurses Association said.Nurses are also reporting an increase of violence and physical assaults from patients and their families.“All because of the pandemic and one’s beliefs that it’s not real,” Kristin Pickerell of the Kentucky Organization of Nurse Leaders said.Nurses involved in the discussion said Kentucky nurses are leaving the bedside to travel, where they are contracted to work temporarily in healthcare systems around the country. According to Pickerell, some travel nurses are making more than $200 an hour, often times to work as a traveler in the same hospital they left.“We’re having to hire travel nurses to replace nurses who are leaving to go travel, so it’s a vicious cycle for leadership to figure out how do we get out of this,” Pickerell said.Because healthcare systems are having to pay their former employees more as travelers, the cost falls on the patients, who are now paying more for cost of care.In addition, states with some of the worst nurse shortages, like New York, California and Texas, are offering to pay Kentucky nurses much more, while giving them food stipends and covering their room and board.“It makes it impossible for them to say, ‘No, I’m going to stay here in Kentucky rather than travel to the Midwest or the West Coast,’” Tim Veno, president of LeadingAge said. “The downside to that unfortunately is that healthcare in Kentucky will suffer. The consumer is going to lose out because the healthcare they’ve come to know and love or come to expect is not going to be there.”One million Baby Boomers are set to retire within the next two decades, and there aren’t enough new nurses to replace them, according to nurse leaders.Last year in Kentucky, 500 nursing school seats sat empty because there is also a nurse faculty shortage; there weren’t enough nursing educators to teach students.KNA suggested several solutions to the problem; it asked the state to allocate $100 million to spend on recruitment and retention efforts. The group hopes to spend the money on bonuses for local nurses, loan forgiveness for nurses in underserved areas, getting retired nurses to return to work, and marketing to make nursing appealing again.To read the full survey and solutions, click here.Copyright 2021 WAVE 3 News. All rights reserved.

Several Ky. school districts will soon drop mask mandates – 89.3 WFPL News Louisville

By |2021-10-23T17:28:29-04:00October 23rd, 2021|COVID-19|

Several Kentucky school districts are doing away with mask mandates, citing a drop in coronavirus infections. But public health officials warn the decision could cause cases to spike again. Warren County Public Schools, Campbellsville Independent Schools and Breckinridge County Schools are among a number of districts that plan to make masks optional in the next week or two.  “Our numbers in our community have dropped drastically — we’re actually now in the orange,” Campbellsville Independent Schools superintendent Kirby Smith told WFPL News. “We felt now was a time to give this a try and give folks the option to mask or not.” The orange zone signifies substantial spread, according to the state, with a weekly average of 10 to 25 new daily cases per 100,000 people. The red zone signifies “high” spread, with more than 25 new daily cases per 100,000 people.  Most of the state is still in the orange or red zone, but Smith says for rural counties like his, just five or six new cases a day can put the county in the red zone. Campbellsville is in Taylor County, with a population of 26,000. That’s why the school board voted to raise the threshold for making masks mandatory to 75 new daily cases per 100,000 for the county, starting Monday. He says the district only knows of one current case — in a staff member. “We have 1,200 students and, right now, knock on wood, we don’t have a single case with our students,” Smith said.  Warren County Public Schools is lifting its mask mandate effective Nov. 1, and loosening the district’s quarantine policy so that close contacts of positive cases will only have to quarantine if they show symptoms.  “We are optimistic that we can continue to provide in-person instruction five days per week with optional masking and an amendment to our quarantine process,” Warren County Public Schools superintendent Rob Clayton wrote in a Friday letter to families. Warren County began the year with masks optional, but shifted to a mandate after hundreds of students and staff were quarantined within the first week of school, threatening operations. The new policy stands to significantly reduce the number of students and staff who will have to quarantine, though it is not in line with guidance from state and national public health officials. The Kentucky Department of Education and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend universal masking in all indoor K-12 settings, and the quarantine of unvaccinated people who come into close contact with infected people, regardless of symptoms. People may still be infected and contagious with COVID-19, even if they do not yet have symptoms. Decisions worry local health official Meanwhile these decisions are making some public health officials nervous.  “It does scare us a little bit,” Breckinridge County health director Scott Shrewsberry told WFPL. Breckinridge County Schools is making masks optional on Monday, Oct. 25, citing declining COVID-19 cases and quarantines. The rural county of about 20,000 people is in the red zone, with five to six new cases a day.  “If we have a case in a classroom of say 30, 35 kids, I mean that stuff can ping-pong back and forth like none other,” Shrewsberry said. “And yes, the little ones tend to recuperate quite a bit better than some of our older, immunocompromised folks, but still, you run that risk.” Shrewsberry said he also worries about students taking the virus home to vulnerable or unvaccinated families members. More than a third of Kentuckians have yet to receive a single dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. In Shrewsberry’s county, vaccination rates are even lower: About 56% of the county’s residents have received a first dose. “Ideally, we would like to see folks keep the mask on,” he said, but he believes the school board is under pressure from constituents who oppose mask mandates. Mask requirements have become politicized, with many on the right saying they infringe on their personal liberties. “We’ve had a lot of businesses and things like that since the very beginning that have seemed to struggle a little bit to enforce the mask mandate with the general public,” he said. Shrewsberry is hoping the new mask policies don’t cause another spike like the county saw this summer when the county went from 69 total cases in July to 690 cases in August. The hospital didn’t have enough beds, the health director said. “We have one lone rural hospital,” he said. “Talking with one of my physicians, he was just like ‘I can’t find a place to put anybody.’” State officials expressed similar concerns earlier this week. On Monday Gov. Andy Beshear urged districts not to drop mask mandates, despite falling cases. “The first thing that would pop these numbers back up is if we came off universal masking in schools,” Beshear said. Decisions around masking were left to local school districts in September, after the GOP-led state legislature scrapped a statewide mandate from the Kentucky Department of Education, and a judge upheld laws limiting Beshear’s emergency powers.

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