FRANKFORT, Ky. — Gov. Andy Beshear on Tuesday set out state guidelines for having a safe Memorial Day weekend while continuing to fight the novel coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19).
“Just because we are healthy at home and healthy at work doesn’t mean we can’t be out there to be healthy physically,” the governor said. “The healthier we get, the more resilient we will be if we ever see anything else like this in our lifetime.”
Keeping safe while celebrating together is crucial as we enter the traditional start of the summer season. Beshear and state health officials are asking all Kentuckians to keep gatherings to 10 or fewer people.
“Our actions have direct implications on the health and safety of others,” said Department for Public Health Commissioner Dr. Steven Stack. “This weekend is the first time in Kentucky that we are going to permit over the last two months or so gatherings of up to 10 people. In order to do this safely and minimize the risk of infection being spread and to keep people safe, we have to do this right.”
Other guidance includes maintaining social distance of at least six feet, wearing masks, gathering outside instead of inside, washing hands frequently and covering food and individually wrapping plates.
“It’s Memorial Day Weekend, and I know that many of us desperately crave the company of our friends and family,” Dr. Stack said. “But I urge and I ask that everybody please follow these steps so that we can stay safe together and not have any of the serious consequences that none of us want.”
Healthy at Work
Beshear spoke about the next steps and latest guidance for businesses as Kentucky makes a gradual and sustainable reopening of the economy.
“This is a big week. There is a lot of additional activity, but we have to make sure that we do it safely,” the Governor said. “I trust in you, and you have done so well thus far that I believe we can do this safely, but it has to be done differently. Let’s make sure that again Kentucky can do this just as well as anyone else.”
The Healthy at Work website now includes guidance for barbershops, cosmetology, hair salons, tanning salons and tattoo parlors. Beshear said the state also will be expanding June 1 reopening guidance to include aquatic centers (excluding public pools), fishing tournaments and auto/dirt track racing.
On Tuesday, the governor said June 8 marks the projected return for museums, outdoor attractions, aquariums, libraries and distilleries. Further out, June 11 will bring back the Kentucky Horse Park, Kentucky State Park campgrounds and Otter Creek; and on June 15 some child care and limited-contact youth sports will be allowed.
As of 5 p.m. May 19, Beshear said there were at least 8,069 coronavirus cases in Kentucky, 164 of which were newly confirmed Tuesday.
Beshear also reported 20 new deaths Tuesday, raising the total to 366 Kentuckians lost to the virus.
“Today we have lost more people to the coronavirus than any other day before,” the Governor said. “While I believe that we can reopen safely and do it gradually, let’s remember that this thing is still deadly and it is still taking people we love and care about.”
The deaths reported Tuesday include two women, ages 76 and 83, and an 83-year-old man from Adair County; a 61-year-old man from Allen County; an 84-year-old man and a 93-year-old woman from Boone County; a 63-year-old man from Breckinridge County; a 70-year-old man from Campbell County; a 76-year-old woman and an 80-year-old man from Daviess County; two men, ages 83 and 87, and an 80-year-old woman from Edmonson County; two women, ages 77 and 84, from Jefferson County; two women, ages 84 and 89, from Kenton County; a 60-year-old woman and an 88-year-old man from Logan County; and an 88-year-old man from Warren County.
“Twenty Kentuckians lost today, a tough day,” Gov. Beshear said. “Let’s make sure just like every day that we are lighting our homes up green and that we ring our bells tomorrow at 10 a.m. and we don’t get tired any night or any day from doing the right thing to honor these families.”
At least 2,826 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 on Monday named Mark Carter executive adviser leading the contact tracing efforts in the Office of the Secretary of the Cabinet for Health and Family Services (CHFS).
Contact tracing, which is funded through the CARES Act, is expanding to meet both the White House and Governor’s benchmarks for safely reopening the economy. For more information about Kentucky’s contact tracing program, click here.
Child illness update
Beshear and Dr. Stack are keeping Kentuckians informed about Pediatric Multisymptom Inflammatory Syndrome (PMIS), a rare syndrome that is causing serious health problems for some young people. At least four young Kentuckians have been treated for PMIS, an inflammation disorder that appears to follow a coronavirus infection.
The Department for Public Health issued a PMIS advisory, which provides guidance, key points about the syndrome, possible symptoms and reporting directions. The Kentucky Pediatric COVID-19 Hotline (800-722-5725) is staffed by Norton Children’s Hospital and prepared to answer questions from parents and clinicians about PMIS.
Beshear said Tuesday that Walmart is greatly expanding its testing operations in the state.
In addition to Louisville and Bardstown locations, which are currently operating, new testing sites will open Friday, May 22, in Ashland, Bowling Green, Leitchfield, London, Paducah, Pikeville and Richmond.
The Governor previously said that in partnership with Kroger, new testing locations would open in Richmond, Mayfield, Louisville and Hartford this week. Information on how to register at more than 70 sites throughout the commonwealth can be found at kycovid19.ky.gov.
Long-term care testing
Dr. Stack said coronavirus testing was being conducted this week at 23 long-term care facilities.
So far, more than 4,300 tests have been conducted, including 2,324 staff members and 2,003 residents. Officials plan to conduct another 2,100 tests over the next two days.