A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Kentucky records 185 new coronavirus cases, four new deaths; Louisville field hospital progressing

By Tom Latek
Kentucky Today

There were 185 new cases of coronavirus reported in Kentucky on Saturday, along with four deaths, making the totals 1,840 and 94 respectively.

During his daily press briefing at the Capitol, Gov. Andy Beshear said the four victims were from Boone, Daviess, Jefferson, and Pulaski counties. “These are 94 families, including four additional families today, that have lost their loved one.”

While racial information on Kentucky’s deaths is not complete, Beshear said they know the breakdown of about 81 percent of them. “(A total of) 77.63 percent are white, 21.05 percent are black or African-American, and 1.3 percent Asian.”

The Kentucky National Guard members are turning the Kentucky Fair and Exposition Center in Louisville into a field hospital, capable of handling 2,000 patients. (Photo from Governor’s Office)

Since the state’s African-American population is only about 8 percent of the total number, Beshear noted that Kentucky, like most other parts of the country, have a disproportionate amount of deaths in the black community.

“I believe this stems from an unequal access to health care,” he said. “While I believe the expansion in Medicaid has helped, we have a lot more work to do and we should have done it by now. No one should be having to pay the price for that.”

The governor said progress continues to turn the Kentucky Fair and Exposition Center in Louisville into a field hospital capable of serving at least 2,000 patients.

“We are on our way to getting at least the first phase of our field hospital up and running,” he said. “The plan is for the field hospital, at least in the beginning if not the duration, to be staffed on the medical side by our Kentucky National Guard.”

Beshear said they need a place, even if it is temporary, to be able to take people on a moment’s notice. In addition to the state fairgrounds site, the University of Kentucky is also currently converting the Nutter Field House into a 400-bed field hospital as well.

The Kentucky National Guard will also handle the transportation of patients across the state. Over 300 soldiers are currently deployed.

Speaking of the National Guard, starting soon, the federal government will pick up 100 percent of the activation of the Kentucky National Guard instead of 75 percent.

According to the Guard, in addition to this offsetting the cost of military support by state government, it also better suits the service member providing support:

• The service member is eligible for health insurance through Tricare to ensure they’re healthy through the mission as well as prepared for any future missions.

• While the state active duty pay provided by the state matches the military’s base pay it doesn’t include basic allowance for housing (BAH) and the like so this transition to federal pay will increase the service member’s pay some.

• Transitioning from State Active Duty to federal duty still allows command and control from the governor.

• Mission types and support don’t change, and the Guard is still authorized to perform the same missions they were asked to do on state active duty.

• If a service member gets injured, they fall under federal benefits vs. Kentucky’s Workers Compensation.

The Guard says the last time they recall a federal declaration like this was for Hurricane Katrina. Kentucky Guardsmen were deployed on that mission as well.

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