A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Kentucky’s nursing homes continue to be COVID-19 hotspots; 174 new cases, five deaths reported


By Tom Latek
Kentucky Today

Long-term care facilities continue to be one of the hotspots for the coronavirus in Kentucky.

Twenty-four new cases were reported among residents, five staff members and two residents died. This brings the totals to 727 residents, 307 staff and 122 deaths, 121 of which were residents. Seventy-four facilities have now reported cases and account for just over half of the deaths in Kentucky.

During his daily press briefing, Gov. Andy Beshear addressed the issues at long-term care facilities. “This is an area where we strive to do better every day, but we know that this virus is just so deadly in these settings.”

There were 174 new cases of the coronavirus reported to Kentucky public health officials on Thursday along with five more deaths, bringing the total cases to 4,708 and 240 deaths since the start of the pandemic.

Two of the deaths were in Grayson County, while Bath, Daviess and Jefferson counties had one each. According to the state, there are now only eight counties where no positive cases have been reported: Bell, Elliott, Estill, Harlan, Lee, Magoffin, Robertson and Wolfe.

Reopening of childcare facilities is not among the early phases of the state’s re-opening plan for the economy, but Beshear says the fear of spreading the coronavirus among the children and staff makes it impossible right now, since you can’t practice social distancing.

“I know some say, ‘we can’t work if we don’t have childcare,’” he said. “If we have childcare right now in the form it was in before, we can’t be ‘Healthy at Work.’ It’s unfortunate. Childcare is something I believe in strongly, just like school. But we’re at a stage where it’s too dangerous.”

When asked for more details on capacity requirements before churches are permitted to reopen on May 20, the governor said he wanted to work with faith leaders on establishing that number.

“I want to be able to have that discussion. I asked my pastor what our capacity was. We have one area where it’s at least 700. We don’t want half of that (in attendance), so we want to talk to those who run small and those who run large churches. Everybody wants to do it safely. It has to be not just a capacity number. Within that capacity number you have to be able to social distance.”

He explained a little of what he meant by having the proper social distance in the church pews.

“You want each family unit to be at least six feet apart, but if you’re going to do what we like to do in church, which is sing, you don’t want to have somebody right in front of you. And you have to think about choirs, because we know it spreads that way, too. By May 20, our date for resumption, we will have not only the eight plans in place, but they’ll be well thought through and we will have buy-in from our faith community.”

He also said reopening of public swimming pools is not in the cards at least through early summer, again, due to social distancing requirements.

Lexington Mayor Linda Gorton announced Thursday that her city would join cities such as Covington and Paducah in not opening city pools at all this year.

“Protecting the health of our citizens and our employees has to come first,” she said. “The governor and the CDC are encouraging us to practice social distancing. Children and swimming pools just don’t make for good social distancing. As much as I would like to open our pools this summer, it’s not responsible.”


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