Gov. Andy Beshear said Monday that a testing partnership is ramping up just as data is beginning to show Kentucky is flattening the curve in its fight against the novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
“Kentucky, you are flattening the curve,” the Governor said, pointing to data from the Kaiser Foundation showing the commonwealth doing better than its neighbors in confronting the coronavirus. “What that means is you are reducing the cases that we have now. You are saving lives.”
Sadly, Kentucky also saw the death toll from the coronavirus in the commonwealth surpass 100. Gov. Beshear ordered all flags at state buildings to be lowered to half-staff until sundown Monday, April 20.
“Every Kentuckian we lose is one of us,” the Governor said. “Even if a report is one or two, it is still a loss to all of us.”
Gov. Beshear said the first day of a partnership with Kroger aimed at launching drive-through testing was a success.
“Today went well,” the Governor said. “We tested 97 people.”
Gov. Beshear said Kentuckians in Franklin County and its contiguous counties can register for the next two days of testing at thelittleclinic.com/drivethru-
Dr. Steven Stack, the commissioner of the Department for Public Health, said the testing eligibility parameters were being loosened to allow more people to qualify. Where previously to qualify you needed to be a health care worker or in a defined high-risk category, now people presenting certain symptoms will be tested.
“If you have symptoms that suggest you have coronavirus, even if you’re not in a high-risk category, they’ll make the testing available to you because our goal is test as many people as we can with the capacity we have available,” Dr. Stack said.
Gov. Beshear also announced a second drive-through testing site in partnership with Kroger would open Wednesday in Kenton County. The site has a daily testing goal of 250 a day and Kentuckians can sign up through the same website and phone number as provided for the Franklin County site.
The testing is done free of charge. The overall goal of the partnership is to conduct 20,000 tests over the next five weeks. Test results are expected within approximately 48 hours.
Gov. Beshear thanked project partners Kroger Health, UPS, Gravity Diagnostics, Kentucky Division of Emergency Management, Kentucky Department for Public Health, Kentucky State Police, Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, Kentucky National Guard and Franklin County for helping make the project possible.
UPS donates N95 masks
Gov. Beshear on Monday offered a preview of a forthcoming, more detailed report on donations of personal protective equipment (PPE) that have been coming in since an official plea went out.
He noted that UPS, one of the state’s largest companies, just donated 16,000 N95 masks.
“I want to thank UPS for stepping up with this donation of critically needed N95 masks for Kentucky’s health care professionals,” Gov. Beshear said. “This donation of essential personal protective equipment will directly save the lives of Kentuckians and help slow the spread of the coronavirus.”
Gov. Beshear also urged anyone who is able to donate PPE at https://giveppe.ky.gov or by calling 833-GIVE-PPE (448-3773).
Gov. Beshear also urged everyone affected by unprecedented job losses to apply for unemployment benefits.
“Make sure you apply for benefits,” the Governor said. “While there is some frustration out there because we have seen more applications than ever in our history, yesterday, on Easter, the state processed 100,692 payments for $50.45 million. So these dollars are going out to help you.”
Field hospital update
Gov. Beshear thanked the Kentucky National Guard for its continued efforts to set up a field hospital at the Kentucky State Fairgrounds.
“The National Guard is doing a great job. We now have more than 250 beds on site,” the Governor said. The plan is to have as many as 2,000 beds, but Gov. Beshear said the work was ahead of schedule and would provide flexibility for treatment.
Coach Davenport’s message
Gov. Beshear showed a video message from Scott Davenport, men’s basketball coach at Bellarmine University in Louisville, promoting the Team Kentucky Fund and efforts to defeat the coronavirus. He urged Kentuckians to stay strong in their sacrifices.
“Do it for the greatest state in the union: the state of Kentucky,” Coach Davenport said.
As of 5 p.m. April 13, Gov. Beshear said there were at least 2,048 coronavirus cases in Kentucky, 87 of which were newly confirmed.
“We have gone over 2,000 cases today, which we always expected to do,” the Governor said. “But it is another benchmark that says this is a very serious virus.”
Unfortunately, Gov. Beshear also reported seven new deaths Monday, raising the state’s toll to 104 deaths related to the virus.
“That means we have now lost more than 100 Kentuckians to the coronavirus,” the Governor said.
The newly reported deaths include four women from Jefferson County, ages 67, 70, 81 and 84; an 81-year-old man from Jefferson County, a 70-year-old man from Laurel County and an 81-year-old woman from Muhlenberg County.
The Governor asked Kentuckians again to join him in lighting their homes and businesses green tonight in honor of the lives lost, as a continued sign of compassion and renewal.
At least 629 people have recovered from COVID-19 in Kentucky.
To date, at least 26,683 people have been tested. At least 673 people have ever been hospitalized with 299 currently hospitalized. At least 259 have ever been in the ICU with at least 136 people currently in the ICU.
Gov. Beshear also offered an update on the racial breakdown of COVID-19 patients, which has been the subject of news stories across the country.
The Governor said with about 70% of the known cases accounted for, 81.86% of Kentuckians who tested positive were Caucasian, 11.23% were African-American, 4.41% were multiracial, 2.41% were Asian and 0.08% were Native American or Alaskan Native.
On fatalities attributed to the coronavirus, with about 82% of the known cases accounted for, Kentucky deaths are about 77.65% Caucasian, 21.18% African-American and 1.18% Asian.
“It’s very concerning that the death rate is disproportional to the total African-American population,” Gov. Beshear said. “I believe health care is a basic right. And what we’re seeing right now is that people die when they don’t have access to adequate health care. More must be done.”
The Governor is asking all Kentuckians to continue to fight the spread of the virus by following his 10-step guidance, which includes practicing social distancing and staying healthy at home. Gov. Beshear says these efforts have the potential to save the lives of as many as 11,000 Kentuckians.
Read about other key updates, actions and information from Gov. Beshear and his administration at governor.ky.gov, kycovid19.ky.gov, and the Governor’s official social media accounts Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. Watch the Governor’s social media accounts at 5 p.m. ET each day for his regular briefing.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) encourages people to follow these steps to prevent illness. Kentuckians who want advice can call the state hotline at 800-722-5725 or call their local health care provider.
Team Kentucky hashtags for social media
#TeamKentucky, #TogetherKY, #Patriot and #HealthyAtHome.