Beshear announces 147 new cases of COVID-19, warns churches not to gather for Easter

Beshear Press image 4/7

Max Chambers

In his daily press briefing, Gov. Andy Beshear announced 147 new cases of coronavirus — an all-time high — and 7 deaths from coronavirus. One new case of coronavirus came from Warren County.

Beshear said while the number seems high, the last few days had reported “artificially low” numbers because of the weekend. Kentucky’s three-day trend of coronavirus cases is actually lower than the previous three-days’ trend, Beshear said.

“We still don’t see the numbers going the same way in Kentucky as in so many other places,” Beshear said.

Beshear said this flattened curve of cases is part of the reason the federal government has not given as much personal protective equipment to Kentucky. Beshear said 15,095 masks had come in today.

“Buying PPE right now — virtually nobody has orders that are actually coming in,” Beshear said.

He thanked CSL Plasma for donating 23,000 units of gloves, sanitizing spray and medical gowns. Bellarmine University’s Department of Biology also donated 13 cases of nitrile gloves.

Beshear said although this week is Passover and Easter, people should not gather for religious services.

“I know it’s hard,” said Beshear, “But we know, we have evidence, we have multiple areas where this has been spread in a house of worship.

“My faith teaches me that we protect one another, and when others aren’t willing to do the right thing we step in to protect those that might otherwise be vulnerable.”

Beshear also noted a large number of coronavirus cases come from long term care facilities, prisons and mental health facilities. 55 residents and 22 staff of long-term care facilities across Kentucky have been diagnosed with COVID-19 so far, and 11 residents have died.

Beshear also said Green River Correctional Complex had nine inmates and five staff test positive, and Western State Hospital had nine patients and four staff test positive.

Department for Public Health Commissioner Dr. Steven Stack said that his office is planning to ramp up testing to 2,000 tests per day over the next two weeks. These tests will be available to two tiers of patients.

Tier 1 includes patients with active symptoms who are also healthcare workers or first responders, over 60 years old or living in “congregate settings” like nursing homes. Tier 2 includes people with active symptoms who also have pre-existing medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes and COPD.

Stack also encouraged people not to buy tests. If hospitals refuse people tests he encouraged them to defer to the hospital’s decision and not take tests from people who need them.

“Rely on qualified healthcare professionals to give good advice on when they’re used,” said Stack.

Josh Benton, Educational and Workforce Development Cabinet deputy secretary, said their office is increasing the number of callers who can help with unemployment enrollment to 1,000-1,200 — up from 12 callers employed three weeks ago.

He also noted that those receiving denial letters should ignore them — the letters were sent out by error. Unemployment funds should be directly deposited into people’s bank accounts after they have been accepted, so there is no need to request the payments. Unemployed people whose coverage expired after July 1 are also eligible for another 13 weeks of unemployment benefits.

Beshear also reminded Kentuckians that the strict social distancing they are doing is working, despite the high number of cases and deaths today.

“It doesn’t matter what other states are doing,” said Beshear. “What we are doing is flattening the curve.”

Copy Desk Chief Max Chambers can be reached at [email protected]. Follow them on Twitter at @chambers_max_e.