FRANKFORT, Ky. — Gov. Andy Beshear on Wednesday prepared voters to take part safely in the upcoming primary elections and revised travel restrictions as the state continues to fight the novel coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19).
The governor also provided updates on coronavirus statistics and expanding testing efforts. He offered new details about primary elections that were moved to late June and issued a new executive order on travel restrictions.
“As long as we continue to be good neighbors, we can write our chapter in the history books about how to defeat this pandemic,” Beshear said.
As of 5 p.m. May 6, Beshear said there were at least 5,934 coronavirus cases in Kentucky, 159 of which were newly confirmed Wednesday, a day after the largest one-day total of new cases were reported.
“Obviously, that is less than half of yesterday, so we do still believe we are stabilized and hopefully plateaued here in the commonwealth,” the governor said.
Beshear also reported eight new deaths Wednesday, raising the state’s toll to 283 deaths related to the virus.
“These are eight of us, these are eight of our citizens who are gone too early. These are eight families and eight communities in mourning today,” the Governor said. “Let’s prove that no matter how many days we have to report these, that we care just as much each and every day.”
The deaths include two women, ages 88 and 95, from Jackson County; a 72-year-old woman from Jefferson County; two women, ages 85 and 99, from Kenton County; two women, ages 57 and 63, from Muhlenberg County; and a 73-year-old from Russell County.
At least 2,125 Kentuckians have recovered from the virus.
For additional information, including up-to-date lists of positive cases and deaths, as well as breakdowns of coronavirus infections by county, race and ethnicity, click here.
Beshear is urging Kentuckians to take advantage of expanding coronavirus testing across the state.
The governor said the state’s partnership with Kroger will bring more testing next week in Louisville, Lexington, Elizabethtown and Corbin.
“Sign-ups are live now, right now,” said Beshear. “We need to fill up more than 400 slots each day. Let’s not have any more no-shows. Let’s get everyone tested.”
Information on how to register at dozens of sites throughout the commonwealth – including new drive-through operations in Pikeville and Ashland – can be found at kycovid19.ky.gov.
Health care reopening Phase 2
Kentucky Department for Public Health (KDPH) Commissioner Dr. Steven Stack said Health Care Phase 2 is beginning with outpatient and ambulatory surgery and invasive procedures.
“This means that same-day or procedures that last less than 24 hours can be performed in ambulatory surgical centers and hospitals and other facilities,” said Dr. Stack, who added the facilities must first show they’re ready to operate under strict guidelines.
All patients must have COVID-19 pre-procedure testing per professional association guidelines consistent with KDPH guidance. The 10 rules of reopening also apply, which includes universal masking and personal protective equipment (PPE), closed common areas, along with requirements to follow specific procedure guidance.
Preparing for primary elections
Beshear offered new details on the coming primary elections, urging voters to get ready to request absentee ballots and announcing help from the Kentucky National Guard.
Last month, Beshear and Secretary of State Michael Adams agreed to move the primary elections to June 23 and to allow everyone to request absentee ballots. The governor noted that voters in Jefferson County already can request an absentee ballot through the County Clerk’s Office website. An online portal for all voters to request the ballots is being created.
The governor said National Guard leaders offered to help and members will work as poll workers and keep polling places operating safely. The governor said he was proud of the guard for stepping in to help where in-person voting is necessary.
Beshear credited Kentucky National Guard Brig. Gen. Hal Lamberton with offering to help with the election.
“We literally are spread out across the entire state and I would venture we probably have soldiers or airmen who live in virtually all 120 counties,” Lamberton said. “So it quite simply is a common-sense solution for the issue.”
Beshear said his administration is changing its travel restrictions to better comply with judicial findings and more closely mirror the guidance of neighboring states.
The governor issued a new executive order that continues to ban anyone with a positive or presumptively positive case of COVID-19 from entering Kentucky, except as ordered for medical treatment. It also keeps in place requirements of social distancing on public transportation.
Those traveling from out of state into Kentucky and staying are being asked to self-quarantine for 14 days.
“Basically, the court said, ‘We think Ohio’s is fine. We think yours should be more like Ohio’s,’” the governor said. “So we’ve issued one today that’s just like Ohio’s. That’s what the court says will work, so that’s what we’ll do.”
Beshear acknowledged that today is National Nurses Day, and it comes on National Nurses Week at a time when our health care givers are doing more than their share.
“Thank you to all of our nurses out there on the front lines at one of the most dangerous times, ever, to be a nurse,” the governor said. “We appreciate you so very much.”
The governor noted that today also is National Interpreter Appreciation Day. He praised Virginia Moore, the lead American Sign Language interpreter for his daily briefings, and all those who help work in state government.
Moore tied both honorific days together by teaching us how to sign the phrase: “Thank you, nurses.” Beshear then asked how to sign, “Thank you, Virginia.”