Beshear says next two or three weeks are ‘absolutely critical;’ drive-through tests to begin on ‘very limited’ basis next week

As news develops in Kentucky about the coronavirus and its covid-19 disease, this item will be updated. Official state guidance is at

  • “The next two to possibly three weeks is gonna be absolutely critical in our battle against the coronavirus,” Gov. Andy Beshear said at his daily press conference, repeating the point several times. “I can’t tell you that after the next two or three weeks, we’re gonna be able to stop. We probably won’t.”
  • Beshear said, “Your work is paying dividends but now is the time do do everything we possibly can . . . so please follow the guidance more than you ever have.” He added, I need you to ratchet it up multiple notches . . . I need you to be as diligent as you possibly can.” Speaking of groceries and Walmarts, he said, “That can’t be a place you go because you’re bored and you just be around people.”
  • He concluded the press conference by saying, “Let’s try to be a model for the country, but even more, let’s be a model for humanity. For many people it is a  matter of life and death as we go through this. We are showing the absolute best of humanity but we’ve got to do even more.”
  • Health Commissioner Steven Stack said “The early signs are really good,” but “We are in crunch time and the next two to three weeks are pivotal.” He said people who had been on spring break to Florida should “self-isolate and stay away from others until you get past the two-week period” of incubation for the virus. “Group play dates should not be happening . . . get outside and spread around.” He said “social pressure” should be applied to people who don’t comply, but people should be patient and avoid misunderstandings: “Never before has it been more important to be a good neighbor.”
  • Beshear acknowledged that the hotline he established for reporting of violations of his orders, and said that is being corrected, partly by creating a website,, which can also be used to see what businesses are open.
  • The governor said he believes that the first drive-through facility for coronavirus testing will start Monday, in one location “for very specific individuals showing symptoms. . . . We believe we will have a least a couple more … next week and we may be able to expand it.” He said he hopes to be able to announce details tomorrow.
  • He said the state has its first case of covid-19 in someone who had gone to Florida for spring break. “We can’t go on spring break,” he said. “They ought to be shutting things down in Florida; I can’t control that.”
  • He said the state has confirmed 198 cases, 35 of them new, fewer than the day before. He said Kentucky is probably one of the few states “that can say that,” but “We will expect to see a lot more.”
  • The governor reported the state’s fifth death from covid-19, a 75-year-old man in Jefferson County. He asked that Kentuckians light their homes green on days when a covid-19 death is announced.
  • He said unemployment benefits are now available to independent contractors, small-business owners, gig-economy workers, cosmetologists, substitute teachers, freelance workers, child-care workers and others who did not previously qualify for unemployment.
  • Health Secretary Eric Friedlander urged health-care providers to practice “tele-heath” with patients to limit the spread of the virus. He said the state has waived many rules to allow that . “We’ve cleared all of the obstacles out of your way,” including reimbursement, he told providers.
  • He said the state has also eased rules on treatment for substance-use disorder. “I’ve had people reach out to me who are doing 12-step meetings through Zoom,” he said. “This is a challenging time for people with behavioral-health issues; please connect with them.”
  • Beshear’s latest emergency order, for all non-life-sustaining businesses to cease in-person services by 8 p.m. Thursday, also suspends evictions and directs law-enforcement officers to not enforce residential evictions.
  • Asked if he foresees additional steps, he said “We have been as aggressive as just about any” other state, but he reserves the right to do more. “What we really need to do now is, all of us need to do our part,” he said.
  • Asked why he has allowed liquor stores to remain open, Beshear said, “All food and beverage is still open” and none will be closed. “We’re not gonna increase people’s anxiety.”
  • An earlier order banning most elective medical procedures “appears to permit abortion, an outpatient procedure, by giving providers discretion on what services to cancel, though it halts most ‘non-urgent, in-person’ services,” Deborah Yetter of the Courier Journal reports. “In some states, including Ohio, abortion clinics have continued to operate under similar restrictions, though officials have attempted to limit their work, citing concerns about the coronavirus and need to conserve protective equipment such as masks and gloves. Continued abortion services also have drawn fire from abortion opponents.”
  • “At least 25 states” have issued similar orders, and some have applied them to abortions, Stateline reports: “Most state directives follow recommendations from the U.S. surgeon general and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which do not include abortions as an elective procedure. Several obstetrics and gynecology medical groups issued a statement last week asking states not to categorize abortion as nonessential.”
  • Asked about the General Assembly, which is returning for a day of meetings Thursday, Beshear said, “They really need to simply pass a budget, anything related to the coronavirus, and go home. . . . Passing different bills that will get people worked up right now on any side, there shouldn’t be sides. . . .We ought to be united. We shouldn’t be doing anything, anything at all, that would keep people from being united.”
  • The Courier Journal published a 2,456-word story (about three times as long as a typical political piece) by Morgan Watkins about Beshear and “his disciplined, soft-spoken message, even as he makes hard-line choices.”
  • State Rep. Savannah Maddox, R-Dry Ridge, has filed legislation that would let people sue the state “if they feel emergency restrictions are unnecessary, too broad or last too long,” reports Ryland Barton of Kentucky Public Radio.
  • U.S. Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., said in floor speech, “There are going to be some that are going to blame politicians” for the crisis or “the way the economy is structured” or the health-care system.” She said it was caused by Chinese government’s slow reaction to the virus and suppression of information about it, but she said the virus shouldn’t be called Chinese (as President Trump does) and that decisions should be based on facts and data.
  • Americans have “an ugly history of blaming ‘foreigners’ for disease,” esecially Asians, Alexandre White, assistant professor of sociology and the history of medicine at Johns Hopkins University, and Katrina Quisumbing King, University of Southern California postdoctoral scholar in sociology, write for The Washington Post.
  • “Senate leaders and the Trump administration reached agreement early Wednesday on a $2 trillion stimulus package to rescue the economy from the coronavirus assault, potentially setting the stage for swift passage of the massive legislation through both chambers,” the Post reports.
  • Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said,”Combating this disease has forced our country to put huge parts of national life on pause and triggered layoffs at a breathtaking pace. This strange new reality has forced our nation onto something like a wartime footing. . . . I will leave it to others to compare the bipartisan Sunday bill to the final version we will pass today and determine whether the last few changes really required or merited these three days of delay, three days of delay, in the face of this worsening crisis. But that Washington drama does not matter anymore.”
  • Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York said the bill has “a Marshall Plan for our hospitals and medical needs” totaling $130 billion; takes a “workers first” approach by paying salaries and benefits of laid-off workers; has “strict oversight, transparency” of government loans to businesses; money for state and local governments, “who are so hard-pressed because of all the new expenses for covid-19;” and “real help for small businesses.”
  • Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the package anticipates that it will be needed for three months. Trump said, “If we have to go back, we have to go back; we’re gonna take care of the American worker.”
  • Beshear said, “I believe that we will need more stimulus after this one. . . . It’s gonna take a response from the federal government like one we’ve never seen.” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a fellow Democrat, said likewise.
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