FRANKFORT, Ky. — Gov. Andy Beshear pressed Kentuckians on Sunday to remain vigilant about social distancing amid reports of crowding at golf courses, basketball courts and home improvement stores to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) and reduce the risk to others.
Beshear said people and businesses must do better to stop the spread of COVID-19 or risk undoing the sacrifices and efforts of everyone else.
“We can’t allow any crowds in Kentucky right now,” Beshear said. “Where social distancing cannot be followed, we are going to have to shut golf courses and other places down.”
People must maintain social distancing at state parks, at basketball courts, in grocery stores and home improvement stores, Beshear said.
“When we go to places we have to make sure we do it in a responsible way,” the governor said.
“We’re at crunch time. The next two to three weeks are pivotal,” said Dr. Steven Stack, commissioner of the Department for Public Health. He advised people to follow the guidance from Beshear and public health officials.
“Assume everybody you see has the coronavirus,” Dr. Stack said. “If you keep the six to ten feet between and keep the social distance, you’ll be OK.”
Beshear and Dr. Stack said following the guidance is key to stopping the spread and reducing the risk to others, which will save lives. They said a small number of irresponsible people could cost others their lives. COVID-19 has been a contributing factor in the death of nine Kentuckians and more than 400 have tested positive.
While he and his staff are working every day to secure more equipment, Beshear said the state’s health care resources – 18,500 hospital beds, 1,300 ICU beds and 1,352 ventilators – will be further stretched if people do not do their part to control the spread and cause a more severe outbreak.
From the start, Beshear has urged social distancing for everyone as key to stopping the spread of the virus. He issued a formal letter banning all mass gatherings and has encouraged businesses to allow employees to work from home when possible.
To combat guideline noncompliance, Beshear set up the COVID-19 Reporting Hotline (833-597-2337) as well as an online portal, kysafer.ky.gov, for Kentuckians to report problems.
As of 5 p.m. March 29, the Governor said there were at least 439 cases of COVID-19 in Kentucky, with 45 of those being newly confirmed. There were no new deaths reported Sunday, leaving the state’s toll at nine deaths related to the virus.
Key updates last week
Largest one-day rise in cases
The 92 new positive COVID-19 cases announced Saturday by Beshear marked the largest one-day rise of confirmed cases in the commonwealth. “This is why we have social distancing,” said Beshear. “This is a virus that spreads like wildfire.” The Governor said we have been expecting these big increases and noted our many sacrifices are aimed at ‘flattening the curve’ on rising cases so patients don’t overwhelm health care providers.
Federal disaster aid
On Saturday, Beshear shared good news of federal aid flowing to help the commonwealth’s coronavirus response and recovery efforts. The Major Disaster Declaration issued by President Donald Trump broadens access to the Public Assistance Program statewide to pay for emergency protective services not covered by other federal statutes. It also lets state and local agencies recover expenses related to the emergency response.
CARES Act helps Kentucky workers
The federal Coronavirus, Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, or CARES Act, which was just signed into law, provides wide-ranging benefits to all Kentuckians. In particular, it provides a variety of assistance and hope to Kentuckians whose livelihoods have been harmed by the coronavirus outbreak and response. “I signed an agreement with the Department of Labor that provides for us to raise the maximum weekly benefit by $600, increase benefits weeks by 13 additional weeks, fund unemployment insurance for individuals not typically eligible and finally allows states to expand workshare programs,” Beshear said.
Beshear has asked Kentuckians to avoid unnecessary travel to Tennessee, which has failed to enact strict social distancing guidelines. Kentuckians can still go to Tennessee for work, to take care of a loved one or even buy groceries if it is closer, but the governor asks Kentuckians not to travel across the southern state line to partake in activities that have been limited or were limited earlier in Kentucky.
Team Kentucky Fund
Beshear, along with the Kentucky Public Protection Cabinet, took executive action to establish the Team Kentucky Fund, a GoFundMe-style online platform to provide financial help to Kentuckians whose employment is affected by the coronavirus. The Governor has challenged those who are able to help to make a tax-deductible donation to the fund. University of Kentucky basketball Coach John Calipari recorded a video encouraging people to help fellow Kentuckians and donate to the Team Kentucky Fund.
The COVID-19 Reporting Hotline (833-597-2337) is for reporting non-compliance with coronavirus mandates. Labor Cabinet personnel will monitor the hotline from 7:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. ET. A new website where Kentuckians can visit to make online complaints is kysafer.ky.gov.
To read about other key updates from Gov. Beshear visit the news section on governor.ky.gov.
Beshear has taken decisive actions to protect all Kentuckians since the first case was confirmed in the commonwealth. To read the full list of actions Beshear has taken to protect Kentuckians and limit the spread of the coronavirus, visit governor.ky.gov/covid19.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) encourages people to follow thesesteps 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.
Beshear continues to urge Kentuckians to be cautious of rumors and depend on proven and good sources of news, including governor.ky.gov, kycovid19.ky.gov and the Governor’s official social media accounts Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.