FRANKFORT, Ky. — Gov. Andy Beshear on Tuesday updated Kentuckians on the fight against the novel coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19).
“We are going to get through this together because we are strong, we are resilient, and for the most part over this Memorial Day weekend, we showed that we can continue to do the right thing,” said Beshear. “Even with the ability to see more people, we know that COVID-19 is still out there, it’s still deadly, it’s still dangerous, but if we can take the Healthy at Work precautions and put those in our muscle memory, we can successfully reopen our economy.”
Beshear also offered updates about a weekend protest at the Capitol, the need continued social distancing and efforts to address an outbreak at a Jefferson County facility.
Beshear addressed a weekend protest at the Capitol that garnered national attention when a small group marched onto the grounds of the Governor’s Mansion and hung an effigy in a nearby tree.
The governor talked about the decision to move his family to Frankfort, the first governor’s family – kids and all – to do so in over 30 years.
“I worried about a number of things. How would living in the community – with their dad as governor – affect my kids? What would it feel like to live in a house where people toured several days each week?” Beshear said. “One thing I never thought about, never questioned, was their personal safety. While I worried kids might be mean to them from time to time, I did not consider they might be bullied or heckled by adults.”
The governor noted that his administration had offered the demonstrators a drive-up protesting permit but the organizers declined. He described how a right-wing militia group marched onto the grounds of the Governor’s Mansion.
“And there, just a windowpane away from where my kids often played, they chanted and heckled,” Beshear said. “While they were thankfully not there, I want to remind you my kids are 9- and 10-years old.”
The governor called out the members of the group for engaging in acts meant to intimidate as well as politicians and officeholders who have encouraged them.
“You cannot fan the flames and condemn the fire,” he said.
Beshear said he would remain undaunted.
“I owe it to the people of Kentucky to not bow to terror, but keep doing what’s right for our citizens,” the Governor said. “Living my faith means I have to face adversity without losing my values.”
Kentucky Department for Public Health (KDPH) Commissioner Dr. Steven Stack talked about the need to continue to follow social distancing rules and to use masks.
“There is no doubt that this infection has taken a horrible toll on humanity, and it will continue to take a toll until we have a vaccine or effective treatment. Until then, we’re left with old-school, old-fashioned public health measures which we know work, but are difficult to implement because they require us to make sacrifices,” Dr. Stack said. “Nobody likes wearing masks, including me. But it’s important that we wear them. The evidence is absolutely overwhelmingly clear that a small number of large events or a small number of large gatherings with one or two infected folks spread this thing like wildfire.”
Secretary Eric Friedlander of the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services provided an update on efforts to address a coronavirus outbreak at a Jefferson County facility.
Beshear is closely monitoring the situation at Nazareth Home Clifton, along with Secretary Friedlander and Dr. Stack. State agencies are working with facility operators and Louisville Metro to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and protect the residents and staff there.
“Long-term care facilities across the world, across the nation and across this state have been and will continue to be a challenge. So we’ve started aggressive testing. We’ve tested over 11,000 staff and residents in facilities across Kentucky. This weekend, we tested an entire facility, Nazareth Clifton, in Louisville. We had many positives, 39 residents and 20 staff,” said Secretary Friedlander. “Over time, it became clear that facility was going to have a hard time finding enough [healthy] staff to take care of all residents, so we began an aggressive plan to transfer COVID-19 positive residents out to local hospitals. We were able to transfer those residents into the hospitals successfully and stabilize that facility. We made sure we were making the right decisions for everyone there, both staff and residents.”
As of 5 p.m. May 26, Beshear said there were at least 8,951 coronavirus cases in Kentucky, 387 of which were newly confirmed through the Memorial Day weekend. That included 141 cases reported Sunday, 122 cases reported Monday and 117 cases reported Tuesday.
“These are some of the lowest daily numbers we have seen,” the governor said. “But that is fragile, and with a disease that can so easily spread we have to want and put into action our desire to see that downward movement.”
Beshear also reported three new deaths Tuesday, raising the total to 394 Kentuckians lost to the virus.
“Let’s remember, every death is tragic,” said Beshear. “Three new families, and 394 families total are still grieving. We’ll be turning our green lights back on at the Mansion on that same front porch. We show compassion there, not anger. We show love there, not hate.”
The deaths reported Tuesday include an 85-year-old woman from Adair County, a 63-year-old man from Allen County and a 72-year-old woman from Jefferson County.
At least 3,115 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 continued to encourage Kentuckians to get tested for COVID-19.
The recommended per capita testing rate is 100 per 100,000. In the seven days ending Tuesday, the daily average of Kentuckians tested per 100,000 residents was significantly higher at 138.
Information on how to register at more than 70 sites throughout the commonwealth can be found at kycovid19.ky.gov.
Absentee Ballot Application Portal online
Beshear is encouraging all voters to use a new Absentee Ballot Application Portal now available online. A link to the State Board of Elections’ portal can be found at govoteky.com. He urged everyone who plans to vote in next month’s primary elections to go to the portal and request an absentee mail-in ballot.