Beshear Confirms 38 New Cases & 5 Deaths From COVID-19
Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear confirmed 38 new coronavirus cases and 5 new deaths from COVID-19 in his Sunday statewide update.
Of the new cases reported to state authorities, 16 are in western Kentucky counties: seven from Christian County, three from McCracken County, two from Daviess County, one from Muhlenberg County, one from McLean County, one from Marshall County, and one from Hopkins County.
One of the five new COVID-19 related deaths reported in the April 5 update was an 85 year-old female from McLean County.
Beshear attributed the lower-than-average new daily reported case numbers to Sundays typically being a slower day for testing laboratories.
“It's a Sunday, and we had fewer lab reports today than many other days. So, we're gonna have to look at this data over a couple of days to realize exactly what it means,” Beshear said. “This is me being transparent. It's a low number. We could really celebrate it, but I wouldn't read too much into it today because of it being a Sunday.”
The Commonwealth now has a reported 955 coronavirus cases. However, 306 people have now recovered, and at least 18,767 individuals have been tested, according to the governor.
Beshear said 334 National Guardsmen and Guardswomen have been engaged in helping health officials and law enforcement across the state, and more National Guardmens will be activated in the coming days.
Beshear also announced a new agreement to help the Commonwealth secure the needed healthcare materials. This agreement, made with the company Gravity Diagnostics in northern Kentucky, will provide up to 2000 tests a day to be used across the state. Results for these tests will be available within 24 hours.
“The materials are being shipped out Monday, April 6, and testing will begin on the seventh,” Beshear said.
The governor confirmed two staff members and two residents at Riverbend Retirement Community in Lyon County have tested positive for coronavirus. One of the positive residents is recovering with family members at home, while the other is recovering at the facility.
Beshear said there had been 80 tests total conducted at the nursing home: the state has directly tested 12, the University of Louisville has tested 45, and the company LabCorp has tested 23, according to Beshear.
“In this instance, if these numbers are right, this is one of the most significant amounts of testing in any facility that we have seen, and it's because it's that serious,” Beshear said. “When it gets into a retirement home or a nursing home, it is that serious. That's why social distancing is so important.”
Steven Stack is the Commissioner of the Kentucky Department for Public Health. He explained recent graphs showing Kentucky’s ranking against other states in COVID-19 cases
“This graph shows and helps you to appreciate just how much steeper the trouble could get if we stopped doing all the good stuff we're doing,” Stack said. “This is one of those times that we should celebrate Kentucky. Governor Beshear took hard actions, and you have overwhelmingly chosen to follow them. And for those who don't follow the recommendations, you are endangering our success on this.”
According to Stack, the data from 91-divoc.com is updated daily. He said there can be delays in the data, and not every state does the same number of tests. However, Stack said these varying elements are factored into the results.
Beshear reminded individuals to apply for Medicaid if eligible.
“We are working every day to process more and more benefits. Remember, be patient with us. We are getting more positive results for people out everyday than we ever have in our history. That is unemployment. That is Medicaid,” Beshear said. “We know we're going to be at this all through April. And folks, right now it looks like we're projecting a peak potentially early May. So we gotta be ready to do this as long as it takes.”
The application for Medicaid can be found under the services page at kycovid19.ky.gov.
“Remember that we are in this together, and as Kentuckians, we collectively, more so now than ever before,” Beshear said. “I've never been prouder to be your governor. I've never been happier to be a citizen of the Commonwealth of Kentucky. We can do this better than everybody else.”
Beshear issued an executive order commuting the sentences for 186 C and D felons.
State officials are moving ahead with plans to convert the Louisville Fairgrounds into a field hospital with at least 2,000 beds. Beshear said the state is working in conjunction with the National Guard and Army Corps of Engineers.
State officials banned overnight stays in state parks. Beshear said this includes campgrounds and lodges.
Beshear extended the policy of no in-person instruction in schools through at least Friday, May 1.
Beshear announced an executive order expanding travel restrictions to where out-of-state people travelling into Kentucky need to quarantine for fourteen days “wherever they’re coming.” People who are just stopping for gas in the state are not included in the order.
Beshear issued an executive order allowing critical workforce sectors to rehire previously retired workers to fill key roles.
Beshear issued an executive order easing restrictions on nurses who live out of state and making it quicker to obtain a license.
Beshear announced a new website portal to connect businesses interested in donating services or supplies with Kentuckians and Kentucky medical facilities in need.
?Beshear asked mayors and county judge-executives to monitor people gathering in public places such as parks and stop them if people are not practicing social distancing and risking the spread of COVID-19.
Unemployment eligibility has been expanded to include individuals typically not covered by unemployment insurance. This includes self-employed, independent contractors, freelance workers, substitute teachers and childcare workers employed by religious affiliated organizations and nonprofits.
?State officials have suspended evictions for the duration of the COVID-19 Emergency.
Beshear established a Team Kentucky fund to help provide financial assistance to Kentuckians whose employment has been affected by this virus. People can donate to the fund that 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.
State officials created a COVID-19 reporting hotline for people to report situations and groups or organizations they believe are dangerous. Beshear 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. 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 taking “security measures” around hospitals to ensure safety. He said people will see additional law enforcement and National Guard around hospitals.
Beshear 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 post.