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45 New COVID-19 Cases Confirmed In Kentucky; 8 New In Western Kentucky

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Governor Andy Beshear

Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear announced 45 new cases of COVID-19 in his Sunday update on the novel coronavirus. This brings the total number of cases reported to the state at 439.

Of the 45 new cases reported to state officials, eight are out of Western Kentucky. Two positive tests were reported out of McCracken County, five from Hopkins County, and one out of Calloway County on Sunday. 

The other cases are out of Fayette, Jefferson, Boyd, Taylor, Lewis, Nelson, Scott, Franklin, Campbell and Kenton counties. Marshall County officials also reported Sunday two positive cases of the coronavirus. It’s unclear if these cases have yet been reported to the state.

Beshear said there were zero coronavirus related deaths reported in the state Sunday. The current COVID-19 death toll in Kentucky is nine.

During the press conference, Kentucky Department of Public Health Commissioner Steven Stack said the next two to three weeks are “pivotal”. 

“This is crunch time. There's a number of different ways things can play out. We can make it play out really well, or we can make it play out really badly,” Stack said. “If you do the things the governor has asked you to do, that's the good scenario. That's where everybody has the best chance to stay healthy and our family and loved ones don't get hurt by this.”

Stack suggested people should act as though every individual around them has coronavirus while out in public. 

“If you keep that six to 10 feet between you, and you keep the social distancing, you're going to be okay. If you're getting in close, if you go to Home Depot or Lowe's, or some other store that's open because they're essential and you congregate, you are endangering yourself and others,” Stack said. “This is a disease that knows no geographic boundary. It doesn't discriminate whether you're a man or a woman or a child.”

Although the new case number for Sunday was about half of Saturday’s count, Beshear stressed people cannot “give in” to the idea the curve is flattening. He said with how quickly the coronavirus spreads, the disease could overwhelm the state’s limited healthcare resources. 

“We've got about four and a half million people in Kentucky. We've got a virus that spreads really rapidly. When you look at our healthcare capacity, we've got about 18,500 hospital beds, about 1300 ICU beds, and a little bit more of that in ventilators,” Beshear said. “We need to stay disciplined on reducing our contacts. Right now, we have to make sure that we flatten this curve, so we don't hit a point where our healthcare system is overloaded. That's when we will lose more people than we would otherwise lose.”

In a further effort to protect the elderly population, the primary election date has been moved to June 23.

As far as protecting the jail system, Beshear said he currently has draft plans in place that he expects to go into action sometime this upcoming week.

Two positive cases announced Sunday were administrative workers at Green River Correctional Complex in Central City. Beshear said the two individuals have not had direct contact with the inmates. He said epidemiologists are working with the facility to prevent any additional spread. 

Beshear also said potentially in the near future, any “essential” businesses still in operation may need to implement a restriction on the number of customers allowed into a building at one time. In particular, he said there are concerns over people’s ability to maintain social distancing in grocery store aisles and check out lines. 

A “peak date” -- representing when the state of Kentucky’s highest number of cases is projected to be -- is expected to be released next week. 

“We are in the surge, and we're going to have more cases. We're going to have more cases each and every day, and we ought to be prepared for it. We're going to lose more people. That's going to be hard,” Beshear said. “We need to realize that our actions, more than ever, in our lifetimes impact other people. We have to be more responsible now than ever before. I do want to say I believe what you are doing is making a difference. We all believe that. We all have a duty to one another, to protect each other.”

Past Steps Taken To Address COVID-19

  • Beshear announced a new Team Kentucky fund. He said the fund is an “opportunity to make sure that we can help with as many sacrifices that people are making as possible.” People can donate to the fund to help provide financial assistance to Kentuckians whose employment has been affected by this virus. The fund will be overseen by the Kentucky Public Protection Cabinet. Beshear said the fund will work like most popular fundraising platforms where people can “click a couple buttons and give instantly.” He said donations are tax-deductible. 

  • Beshear also announced a COVID-19 reporting hotline for people to report situations and groups or organizations they believe are dangerous. He said this could be groups not engaging in social distancing or businesses not abiding by CDC guidelines. The hotline is 1-833-KYSAFER or 1-833-597-2337. Beshear said the hotline will be staffed from 7:30 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. by labor cabinet employees. People can also leave messages after hours. He said the hotline received roughly 2,000 last night.

  • Beshear said the state is also taking “security measures” around hospitals to ensure safety. He said people will see additional law enforcement and National Guard around hospitals.

  • Beshear also encouraged all radio and TV stations to do public service announcements. He said Kentucky needs more encouragement about social distancing and recommended stations pull information from the kycovid19.ky.gov website.

  • The state is going to be conducting a survey of outpatient surgical centers for their supplies and staff. Beshear said it's something the state is doing so it can “marshal every single resource at a time of need.”

  • The state is closing non-essential retail businesses to in-person traffic as of 8 p.m. Monday night. These include entertainment, sporting goods, clothing, shoes, jewelry, bookstores, florists, furniture and auto dealers. Beshear said these retail businesses can still do curbside and pickup and urged them to be “innovative.” He said stores unaffected by this order are grocery stores, pharmacies, gas stations, drug stores, liquor stores, hardware stores, agriculture supply and equipment stores and auto repairs and parts stores. Beshear said these stores still need to follow CDC guidelines and “spread people out.” He said auto dealers will still be able to provide repairs and parts and can only do sales if the interaction is complete online or over the phone. 

  • The state, starting Monday, is mandating that medical facilities cease elective procedures. He said the vast majority of providers have responded to the state’s recommendation voluntarily. 

  • Kentucky has issued a state of emergency that Beshear said will last until COVID-19 is “taken care of.”  He said the state’s emergency management operations center is up, as well as the state health operations center. 

  • The state established the COVID-19 hotline and a website providing updates on the virus for Kentuckians. People who are sick but would have not sought care should  contact their healthcare provider to prevent flooding of health care facilities. People who have questions about the virus call the COVID-19 Hotline at (800) 722-5725.

  • A price gouging order is in effect. Kentuckians who have any information regarding possible price gouging should dial (888) 432-9257 for the Office of the Attorney General Consumer Protection hotline.

  • Officials adjusted state government sick leave policy to ensure sick employees stay at home. Beshear said businesses should do the same. He encouraged all businesses to allow employees to work from home if at all possible. 

  • The state published CDC guidelines with warnings for sick individuals. Beshear said people over the age of 60 or people with heart, lung or kidney disease; compromised immune systems; or diabetes should be extremely careful and avoid places with crowds. He said Kentuckians should not fly if they don’t have to and that no one should get on a cruise ship. CDC guidelines say everyone should be engaged in social distancing. 

  • Beshear issued an executive order to waive copays, deductibles, cost-sharing and diagnostic testing fees for private insurance and state employees. He said the state has issued executive orders and worked in Medicaid to make sure COVID-19 testing and treatment is free.

  • Beshear signed an executive order to allow pharmacists to refill prescriptions for up to 30 days.

  • The state closed all state prisons to visitors.

  • Beshear said the state closed restaurants and bars to all in-person traffic, except for drive-thru, delivery and, in some instances, take-out.

  • Beshear said the state has limited visitation in “just about every type of facility that works with or for our seniors.” 

  • The state has recommended schools cease in-class activities, including in-person classes. Beshear said Friday this has been extended to April 21 and, as of now, all school districts have complied.

  • Beshear said the state is making sure first responders and health care workers are covered through Kentucky Employers Mutual Insurance. The insurance provides wage replacement benefits for first responders and medical personnel who have been quarantined for COVID-19.

  • Child care centers are closed with the exception of those helping healthcare workers and first responders. 

  • The state postponed primary elections, moving voting to June 23.

  • The state issued an executive order to close all public-facing businesses that encourage public congregation.

  • Beshear said the state has waived the waiting period for unemployment insurance and continues to work to reduce the barriers to unemployment. Beshear said they are working on unemployment for independent contractors and small business owners.

  • The federal government’s Small Business Administration has granted Kentucky application to allow small businesses to get disaster loans. Beshear said SBA’s website is fixed and small businesses can now apply online for the disaster loans they need. SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loans applications can be completed and filed online at www.sba.gov/disaster.

  • All Kentuckians on the Grand Princess cruise ship were brought back home.

  • The state provided a three-month extension on driver’s licenses.

  • Beshear said the state is extending Medicaid, SNAP and other benefits: “If it’s running out and you would have to reapply in the next couple of months, you don’t have to.” He said the state is re-upping people on those benefits for a three-month period.

  • The state has suspended all charitable gaming licenses. 

  • The state has issued a formal letter banning all mass gatherings.

  • The state is delaying the tax filing deadline by three months from April 15 to July 15.

Beshear said the state has issued guidance for good mental health.

Sydni Anderson contributed to this report.

 

Hannah is a Murray State Journalism major. She found her place in radio during her second year in Murray. She is from Herndon, KY, a small farming community on the Kentucky/Tennessee stateline.
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