A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Gov. Beshear reports 134 new coronavirus cases, six more deaths; urges show of care and compassion


Gov. Andy Beshear reported there were at least 1,452 coronavirus cases in Kentucky, 134 of which were newly confirmed as of Thursday afternoon. The new total includes some revision after the discovery of duplicate reports. There were six new deaths, raising the total to 79.

The Governor said 426 total COVID-19 patients have needed hospitalization, with 228 currently in the hospital and 105 of those being in intensive care.

“We can confirm at least 395 Kentuckians have recovered from the coronavirus,” the Governor said.

As a sign of compassion and renewal, the Governor asked Kentuckians to join him in lighting their homes green tonight in honor of the lives lost.

“Let’s make sure that we light our houses, our businesses, our facilities green tonight, and every night that we lose people. It makes a difference,” he said. “Let’s also remember how hard it must be to lose somebody during this coronavirus when you can’t have the same type of funeral or closure. Let’s make sure we show even more care and more compassion.”

Beshear praised the actions and sacrifices of all Kentuckians – and faith leaders in particular – in the fight against the novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

“Our faith community is leading during this time,” the Governor said. “I couldn’t be more grateful and I couldn’t be more proud of our pastors, ministers, rabbis, imams, deacons and everyone else for not only recognizing that we need to be worshipping at home but for all that they offer.”

Beshear noted this weekend holds special significance for several faiths, including Passover and Easter celebrations.

“These are very special times. But it’s very important that we worship from home or a non-in-person setting. We now know that just from one revival in Hopkins County we’ve seen 54 cases and six deaths,” he said, adding that the death toll includes two new fatalities reported today.

The Governor noted that some of those people weren’t at the revival but were infected out in the community by those who had been at the service.

“I have never been as sure of anything in my faith as I am in this: We must protect each other,” Beshear said. He said now is not the time to make an exception on social distancing.

“Let’s make sure we do even better this weekend than we did last weekend…. We are in a test of our humanity. And you are passing it. But here’s the challenge: We have to pass it every day, we have to pass it every hour of every day.”

Remember social distancing

The Governor played a video from faith leaders from all over the Commonwealth and thanked them for coming together to support remote services and for urging their members to stay healthy and worship at home.

Beshear also thanked Richard Nelson, executive director of the Commonwealth Policy Center, for sending a letter in support of the state’s policy to stop the spread of the virus by banning mass gatherings, including in-person religious services this upcoming weekend.

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See Richard Nelson’s letter here.
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While mass gatherings are banned and many travel restrictions are in place, the Governor has told Kentuckians not to worry about the Easter Bunny, who has been deemed an “essential worker” and will be able to travel and work this weekend.

Popular state parks closed

In a move to prevent crowds from congregating, Gov. Beshear announced that Natural Bridge and Cumberland Falls state resort parks have been ordered closed.

“We’re trying to keep as many of our state parks open as possible, but where we have seen crowds gather in a way to where we know we have to take action, we are,” the Governor said.

He said the move came after reports that people were not practicing good social distancing on the trails.

Workers compensation

Beshear has expanded the number of workers who can receive workers compensation if they are ordered to be quarantined.

La Tasha Buckner, the Governor’s general counsel and chief of staff, said the coverage previously had been extended to health care workers and first responders.

“This is a group of people who have been on the front lines as well,” Buckner said. “Now we have a larger category of people who are required because of their jobs to have a lot of interaction with other people. And because of that they are at a higher risk for COVID exposure.”

The coverage now will be extended to military, active National Guard, child-care workers, grocery workers, corrections officers, domestic violence shelter workers, child advocacy workers, rape crisis center workers, postal workers and Department of Community Based Services workers.

Unemployment insurance update

Beshear offered one area of good news amid the deepening job losses across the commonwealth and nationwide: Beginning this evening, Kentuckians collecting unemployment insurance will receive an additional $600 payment. Officials also are working to address the unprecedented number of claims.

“We are going to keep adding staff until we can answer every call,” said Deputy Secretary Josh Benton from the Education and Workforce Development Cabinet. “Our system is taking in about 14,000 claims a day. To date, we have paid more than 208,800 Kentuckians more than $107 million in unemployment insurance and we are working to keep up each week and pay claims on time. Fortunately, we have received the additional federal funding stream and an additional $600 unemployment insurance payment is coming soon. No one needs to reapply.”

The additional, federally funded benefit, which is retroactive to March 29, will be disbursed automatically and will come as a separate payment from other unemployment payments.

“We are working harder and faster than any other state,” the Governor said in reference to the state’s action to process unemployment. “We will keep working to make sure all Kentuckians get the help and resources they need.”

Long-term care update

Dr. Steven Stack, commissioner for the Department for Public Health, provided an update on efforts to address problems at long-term care facilities amid the coronavirus outbreak.

He explained how state and local leaders worked to help River’s Bend Retirement Center near Paducah. Among the measures was to place the first four medical student volunteers into such settings.

“They are now already at work and embedded in the teams,” Dr. Stack said, calling the medical students heroes. He said innovative solutions across agencies are required to save people.

“We are working as hard as we can to deliver solutions that we can deliver for the entire Commonwealth,” Dr. Stack said.


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