FRANKFORT, Ky. (March 24, 2020) – All non life-sustaining businesses are being asked to close to in-person service, effective Thursday at 8 p.m., to help promote social distancing and stop the spread of COVID-19, Gov. Andy Beshear said Monday in his daily news conference.
Kentucky’s number of confirmed coronavirus cases grew by 39 on Tuesday to 163. It was the single biggest one-day increase in cases so far. No new deaths were reported as of 5 p.m. Tuesday.
“With the rise in cases and knowing that these next probably two weeks are going to be some of the most important, we are going to take the next step; so effective Thursday at 8 p.m. we are going to be asking all non-life-sustaining businesses to close to in-person traffic,” Beshear said. “Even for those who are going to be excepted under this order, we are going to mandate that type of social distance that we have to see out there to protect our people.”
Beshear plans to issue an order on Wednesday to give businesses more guidance. He said many businesses provide life-sustaining services and will be allowed to stay open, even though they must maintain social distancing.
The businesses that can stay open include: grocery stores, drug stores and pharmacies, banks, hardware stores, agricultural operations, gas stations, media, businesses needed for transportation, logistics, shipping, delivery and pick-up, housing, building and construction, laundry, financial services, home-based care and services, professional services, manufacturing and other businesses key to national interests or life-sustaining goods or services, and those covered under the federal critical infrastructure sector.
The governor said most professional services, including attorneys, accountants and those in real estate, can be performed at home, Beshear said.
As he said previously, restaurants can remain open for delivery, curbside pickup and even carry out if they follow guidelines on social distancing.
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During the daily briefing, the governor also issued a warning that complacency is the biggest threat against those gains as the global pandemic enters a critical period in the United States.
“With this being the single biggest day that we have had so far with an increase in cases, we are going to have to keep taking increasingly significant steps as we move forward,” Gov. Beshear said. “We know we are in the time in any pandemic when we have escalating cases and we have to act, act now and act in a significant way that protects our people.”
With the number of positive cases rising quickly across both the country and the commonwealth as more testing capabilities come online, the governor is urging everyone against any rollbacks or lessening of defenses.
Beshear said they have been expecting the increase and have been preparing. It is also why the governor has aggressively taken measures to flatten the outbreak’s curve in the commonwealth and prevent hospitals from being overwhelmed with sick patients.
One of the people who tested positive on Tuesday had attended a so-called coronavirus party, Beshear said. He told Kentuckians to not be so callous as to intentionally go to a gathering and expose themselves to a virus that can kill others, especially the most vulnerable.
“This makes me mad, and it should make you mad,” Beshear said. “There is the power of forgiveness and we will move on and forgive, but there should not be any more of these parties – for any reason.”
K-PREP tests canceled
The Kentucky Department of Education has canceled plans to administer the K-PREP assessment for the 2019-2020 school year. The move comes after a waiver was granted by the U.S. Department of Education. K-PREP testing will resume in spring 2021 and current assessments will be in effect until then.
Senior meals being delivered
Beshear announced that Kentucky is significantly ahead of other Southern states in preparedness, volunteer coordination and meal delivery programs for seniors. On Monday, March 23, 11,825 meals were served statewide, an increase of 3,825 meals (150%), according to the Department of Health and Family Services.
The governor said he knows that Trigg, Graves, Mason, Taylor, Lawrence and Christian counties need help preparing more meals for seniors. It is no failure of leadership, but these counties need help making meals for seniors and Kentuckians should reach out to their local elected officials if they can help.
Hand sanitizer production
The Governor said many businesses, including food and beverage industries, are making barrels of hand sanitizers for hospitals and first responders.
State workers to food banks
State workers will begin helping at food banks because of the lack of help there during the coronavirus outbreak, Beshear said. “Provided it is a safe environment, we will be there,” he said of helping food banks that help Kentuckians in need.
The governor thanked many people, including an anonymous person who dropped off 4,000 swabs.
“I want to thank whoever it is that dropped off 4,000 swabs today and didn’t even walk in to talk about it,” Beshear said. “Swabs are necessary to do kits and tests. Without swabs, you can’t do a test. This is running low all over the country and someone came in and just dropped off 4,000 today. I want to thank that individual. Amazing people do amazing things when it’s needed the most. So thank you very much.”
He also thanked the state’s newspapers and TV and radio stations for conducting Public Service Announcements about social distancing and other state guidelines to combat the coronavirus.
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. To read Beshear’s news releases and watch other news regarding COVID-19 visit governor.ky.gov. To listen to questions from Kentuckians and media and answers from Beshear, watch his news conferences online on Facebook and YouTube.