As COVID-19 cases surge, governor warns Kentuckians to avoid gatherings including Easter services

242 new cases and 11 deaths reported Friday; 27% of 1,693 total have recovered
The Governor’s Mansion and the State Capitol were lit green Friday evening in honor of the three Kentuckians who recently died from COVID-19.

FRANKFORT, Ky. (April 10, 2020) – Gov. Andy Beshear urged Kentuckians of all faiths on Friday to stay strong in the fight against the novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) as cases continue to grow. As of 5 p.m. April 10, there were at least 1,693 coronavirus cases in Kentucky, 242 of which were newly confirmed, Beshear said.

“We are in the midst of our surge and escalating cases. Now is the time we have to be at our very best,” he said. “The next couple of weeks being absolutely critical not only to us blunting or flattening the curve but really protecting those that are most vulnerable, especially our seniors that are in different types of assisted living facilities.”

Even amid the escalating cases, Beshear noted a hopeful sign as Kentuckians recover from the illness.

“We can report – this is really good news – that we have had at least 464 Kentuckians recovered. That’s 27%,” he said. “And when you think about the period of time that it takes to recover, because it’s not real short, that’s real positive news already.”

Sadly, Beshear said 11 new deaths were reported Friday, raising the state’s toll to 90 deaths related to the virus.

“This is a time and weekend, a whole week for multiple faiths, that is about faith. It’s about knowing we have faced as people – as Christians, as Jews, as members of many faiths – many difficult, dark times, and we have prevailed,” the governor said. “We know that the weeks or the months ahead will be difficult. We know that there are going to be tougher days before there are easier days. But we also know because we have faith that we are going to get through this and we are going to get through it together. We are going to pass this test of humanity.”

While getting compliance and support from a vast majority of leaders and Kentuckians in the faith community, Gov. Beshear is warning anyone planning to attend an in-person mass gathering this weekend that they will face quarantine orders.

“This is the only way we can ensure that your decision doesn’t kill someone else,” the governor said. Gov. Beshear has noted that an outbreak in Hopkins County that sickened dozens and led to multiple deaths was traced to a church revival there in mid-March.

He said officials are aware of six churches in the commonwealth still planning to hold in-person services.

Anyone attending such a gathering will be notified it is misdemeanor violation of the emergency orders issued by the governor and Kentucky Department for Public Health. The governor said the order is for all mass gatherings and not just worship services.

Kentucky State Police will be recording the license plate numbers of any vehicle seen at the gatherings, Gov. Beshear said. Local health officials then will contact the people associated with those vehicles and require them to self-quarantine for 14 days.

“Folks, we shouldn’t have to do this,” the governor said. “What we’re asking is for you to love your neighbor as yourself. We shouldn’t have to do this.”

Beshear also played a video featuring faith leaders from around the commonwealth, who all stressed that Kentuckians need to stay healthy at home this weekend.

“I want to encourage you to meet together separately this Sunday, to remind you that on that first Easter Jesus came to people behind locked doors,” Chris Michael, pastor of the First Christian Church, Disciples of Christ in Owensboro said. “He will come to you as well.”

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.

Long-term care task force

Beshear on Friday convened a new task force aimed at addressing concerns in Kentucky’s long-term care facilities, where residents and staffers are at elevated risk to coronavirus outbreaks.

The new 10-member advisory board is comprised of professionals who represent a range of specialties and perspectives.

“This fast-moving situation,” said Eric Friedlander, acting secretary of the Cabinet for Health and Family Services. “We’ve asked a very small group of individuals – 10 individuals, most of them physicians – to come and help us think through how to balance all these different things, and to make sure we’re protecting our loved ones.”

The board’s initial goal is to develop a variety of protocols to help the facilities operate safely while dealing with COVID-19 cases amid residents and staffers.

Case information

The newly reported deaths include six men from Jefferson County, ages 66, 68, 75, 92 and two 73-year-olds; a 77-year-old man from Butler County; a 75-year-old woman in Meade County; a 75-year-old man in McCracken County; an 80-year-old man in Hopkins County; and an 81-year-old from Daviess County.

As a sign of compassion and renewal, the governor asked Kentuckians again to join him in lighting their homes green at night in honor of the lives lost.

“These are 11 individuals that are loved by their families, their communities,” Gov. Beshear said. “That means we’ve lost 90 amazing Kentuckians, which is a loss to all of us. So for 90 separate Kentuckians, let’s commit to do better. I know you’re working hard; let’s commit to do better.”

Beshear also offered an update on the racial breakdown of COVID-19 patients, which has been the subject of news stories across the country.

The governor said with about 69% of the known cases accounted for, Kentucky’s cases included about 81.72% Caucasian, 11.70% African-American, 3.54% other race, 2.5% Asian, 3.86% multiracial and 0.1% Native American or Alaskan Native.

On fatalities attributed to the coronavirus, with about 81% of the known cases accounted for, Kentucky deaths included about 79.45% Caucasian, 19.17% African-American and 1.36% Asian.

Sign language lesson

Virginia Moore, executive director of the Kentucky Commission on the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, provided a lesson Friday in American Sign Language.

Moore took to the lectern and explained how to sign the phrase that Beshear repeats at the beginning of each news conference on the coronavirus: “We will get through this, and we will get through this together.”

Beshear participated in learning ASL and promised that Moore will continue to offer lessons at future news conferences “so as we go through this each and every day, so that all of us can better communicate with each and every brother and sister here in the commonwealth.”