FRANKFORT, Ky. — Gov. Andy Beshear on Tuesday said Kentuckians need to be resilient, resourceful and resolute in the fight against the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), even as warmer weather brings new opportunities for gatherings – and virus transmission.
“We’re going to get through this together because we’re strong enough, we’re resilient enough and at the end of the day, we’re going to make good decisions,” the governor said. “At different times we’re going to be tempted. We’re at the beginning of summer and we all want it to be a normal summer. But we don’t get a normal summer in the midst of a worldwide health pandemic.”
The governor provided updates on two children being ill, positive cases, testing and urged Kentuckians and businesses to remain vigilant of Healthy at Work guidance.
Beshear praised the hard work and sacrifices that make us Team Kentucky, but warned that warmer weather and Memorial Day weekend coming up in a couple weeks will bring new temptations to drop our guards.
“This is going to be something that is burned on our psyches, on our memories,” he said. “It will probably a change a little bit how we interact and in our world going forward.”
Even with the easing of some restrictions, however, Dr. Steven Stack, commissioner of the Kentucky Department for Public Health, stressed that workplaces will not be reopening to business as usual. Likewise, he said, no one should expect summer activities to run as usual this year.
“Early reports suggest that warm weather may not help us with this virus,” Dr. Stack said. “We were hoping that we might have some diminishment of the disease in the summer months, like with seasonal influenza, but early signs are we may not be able to count on that.”
As of 5 p.m. May 12, Beshear said there were at least 6,853 coronavirus cases in Kentucky, 191 of which were newly confirmed Tuesday.
Beshear also reported 10 new deaths Tuesday, raising the total to 321 Kentuckians lost to the virus.
The deaths reported Tuesday include a 74-year-old woman from Boone County; a 59-year-old man from Fayette County; an 85-year-old woman from Hopkins County; two women, ages 57 and 77, and an 85-year-old man from Jefferson County; and three women, ages 91, 89 and 91, and an 85-year-old man from Kenton County.
“It hurts to lose 321 people to this. So let’s remember that it’s real. Let’s remember that it’s taken people from us. This isn’t made up. It’s a lot worse and a lot more deadly than the flu,” the Governor said. “I believe every Kentuckian has value. I believe every Kentuckian counts. I mourn for these 321 people and I’m going to do everything I can to make sure we don’t unnecessarily lose people going forward.”
At least 2,546 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 and Dr. Stack provided an update on the coronavirus in children after one young Kentuckian was apparently suffering from a rare, but not unknown complication related to COVID-19.
The governor said Monday that a 10-year-old child in Kentucky was on a ventilator after becoming ill with COVID-19. On Tuesday, he said the child was improving.
“Doctors are hopeful that in the days to come the child can be removed from the ventilator,” the governor said.
In discussing the symptoms that children might experience with the virus, Dr. Stack provided examples of symptoms and said that additional guidance and information is likely coming tomorrow.
“This is a serious disease and it spreads very easy, and while the statistics are good for children, most are going to be perfectly fine, the statistics are not perfect,” Dr. Stack said.
Unfortunately, he said a 16-year-old Kentuckian has been hospitalized with the virus but is not relying on a ventilator to breathe.
Dr. Stack said the new syndrome is being recognized in young people related to the coronavirus that causes their immune systems to become overactive, sparking an inflammatory response in their bodies.
Phase 3 of health care reopening
Wednesday marks the next step in the reopening of the state’s health care sector. The Cabinet for Health and Family Services issued directives governing the opening of hospitals and other health care facilities. Beginning May 13, hospitals and care facilities can begin doing non-emergency surgeries and procedures at 50% of their pre-COVID-19-era patient volume. Facilities will determine their own patient capacities starting May 27, as long as progress continues.
Governor urges continued telework
Beshear said that while Kentucky businesses are being encouraged to safely restart on a staggered schedule, owners and operators should continue to allow employees to telework when possible. Encouraging telework is the first of the 10 rules of staying healthy at work. Gov. Beshear’s administration is providing industry-specific guidance on reopening.
Several sectors have reopened. Houses of worship reopened May 9. Horse racing, manufacturing and distribution, office-based businesses, construction, pet grooming and boarding, photography and vehicle or vessel dealerships have followed. On May 18, government offices and agencies are set to reopen, and retail and funeral services are scheduled to reopen May 20. See the full reopening schedule here.
Child care options
Beshear said child care options would expand on June 15, but would still not be back to normal until we have a vaccine or a cure. Parents can expect more limited capacity, and guidance will be issued in advance of the reopening.
The governor answered a question about the reopening of public and commercial pools. An estimated 25-plus states have not yet announced plans for reopening pools.
“None of our kids want to have to grow up knowing that, maybe going to see a grandparent, after they’ve gone to a pool, maybe is the reason that grandparent isn’t here anymore,” Beshear said.