FRANKFORT, Ky. (May 20, 2020) – Gov. Andy Beshear on Wednesday updated Kentuckians on steps the state is taking to fight the novel coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19). He highlighted new CARES Act funding, efforts to test more residents in long-term care facilities and tips for staying safe on Memorial Day weekend.
“We’re going to get through this together because just about every day and just about every decision we make, we realize that our actions can either help or harm those around us,” the Governor said. “We are more connected than we have ever been.”
As of 5 p.m. May 20, Gov. Beshear said there were at least 8,167 coronavirus cases in Kentucky, 166 of which were newly confirmed Wednesday.
Unfortunately, Beshear also reported 10 new deaths Wednesday, raising the total to 376 Kentuckians lost to the virus.
“Ten families that have lost loved ones. And while the rules today loosened up on funerals, it’s still going to be really hard for these families to go through this,” Beshear said. “I hope you know I am fighting for every single individual out there. It hurts me every time we’ve lost someone.”
The deaths reported Wednesday include a 73-year-old woman from Breckinridge County, a 90-year-old woman from Oldham County, a 70-year-old man from Boone County, a 79-year-old woman from Graves County, and 46, 70, 76, and 88-year-old women and 71 and 77-year-old men from Jefferson County.
At least 2,919 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.
$300 million in local government relief available
Wednesday, Beshear announced a $300 million award to city and county governments as part of the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which established the Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF) to reimburse local governments for expenses incurred in response to the public health emergency caused by COVID-19.
“Local governments have been instrumental in the fight against COVID-19 and are a lifeline in our local communities,” Beshear said. “During this fight, they have sacrificed so much to protect others by supplying PPE, enforcing guidelines, keeping the public informed and looking out for our most vulnerable. This funding will help them better protect all Kentuckians.”
To apply, eligible local governments with COVID-19-related expenses from March 1, 2020, to Dec. 30, 2020, must complete an application with expense documentation, which will be available on DLG’s website tomorrow at 8 a.m. (EDT). For a detailed list of eligible expenses and guidelines, visit the U.S. Department of Treasury’s website.
The funding will be allocated to city and county governments based on approximate population size as recorded in the most recent census data.
Long-term care testing
Dr. Steven Stack, commissioner of the Department for Public Health, said Wednesday that coronavirus testing was being conducted this week at 23 long-term care facilities.
All the major providers are assisting: Signature, Genesis, Exceptional, Christian Care Centers and Trilogy. Norton also will be doing on-site testing at two facilities this week.
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.
Stack said: “I know we can’t get to everyone immediately. We would like to, it’s just not possible with the bandwidth, but we are working very methodically to get to all the nursing homes and support that community and the residents who live there, who are the most vulnerable among us.”
The state is delivering PPE to long-term care facilities in the commonwealth. In total, they possess 870,000 K-N95 masks, 279,000 face shields, 200,000 extra-large exam gowns, 140,000 HHS/FEMA cloth masks, 186,000 medium gloves, 186,000 large gloves and 186,000 extra-large gloves.
Memorial Day Weekend
Keeping safe while celebrating together is crucial as we enter the traditional start of the summer season. Gov. Beshear and state health officials are asking all Kentuckians to keep gatherings to 10 or fewer people.
“This weekend, think about hands, face and space. So, hands clean and to yourself. Face covered if you’re close and don’t touch it. And, finally, space,” Beshear said. “We’re going to be really excited to see folks we haven’t in a while, but stay six-feet apart, do it outside if you can, it’s going to make it very safe comparatively.”
Other guidance includes wearing masks, gathering outside instead of inside, washing hands frequently and covering food and individually wrapping plates.
Walmart is greatly expanding its testing operations in the state, Beshear said. He announced that there will be new testing partnership with Kroger with locations in Henderson, Bowling Green, Louisville and Lexington next week.
“Let’s make sure we fill every spot. Let’s not have any no-shows,” the governor said. “Let’s make sure that we get as much testing as possible. We have the capacity, now we’ve got to have the will.”
Information on how to register at more than 70 sites throughout the commonwealth can be found at kycovid19.ky.gov.