Beshear: ‘We’re looking at months’ of restrictions, but they can be relaxed selectively if ‘significantly on the downward’ from peak

UK HealthCare employees sent this photo to thank a Lexington restaurant for providing them dinner.

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

By Al Cross
Kentucky Health News

With signs that the coroinavirus pandemic may be approaching its peak in New York, the nation’s main hotspot, Gov. Andy Beshear tried to disabuse Kentuckians of the notion that life will return to normal in a matter of weeks.

“While we’re looking at months, we’re not looking at years,” Beshear said near the start of his daily briefing. Asked later what he would have to see before lifting his orders for social distancing, Beshear noted that Japan had a resurgence when it lifted such measures, much like St. Louis did after first responding well to the 1918 influenza pandemic.

Graph shows resurgence after social-
distancing measures were relaxed.

“After what we’re seeing in Japan, where they did them too early, what we kind of see in that St. Louis graph, where they bump up again, I really want people committed right now, dug in 100 percent and resilient, to continue this as long as it takes.” Earlier, he said “There could be this second bump that takes people away from us.”

He said that before loosening social-distancing measures, Kentucky must not only be past its peak, “We’re gonna have to be significantly on the downward slide from it, and then it’s not gonna be everything at once. It can’t be.”

He said relaxation of social distancing would differentiate between activities and populations, depending on their resiliency or vulnerability.

“It’s gonna be really complicated and it’s probably gonna seem unfair to a lot of people,” he said. “Until we know we’re in a decline, let’s spend our time being committed to doing what it takes.”

Earlier, Dr. Steven Stack, the state health commissioner, said “We are gonna have to hold together in the weeks and coming months.”

In other coronavirus news Thursday:

  • Beshear reported six new covid-19 deaths in Kentucky, two of which he said “can be traced to a specific mass gathering in Hopkins County,” and 134 new cases, for a corrected official total of 1,452. Twelve of the new cases are in Hopkins County, which he said “has been hit really, really hard.”
  • The governor said 426 people have been hospitalized with covid-19 in Kentucky, and 228 remain so. He said 166 have been in intensive-care units, with 105 in them now. He said at least 395 have recovered, and many more are close to recovery.
  • Kentucky now has several machines that can deliver coronavirus test results “in a matter of minutes, significantly expanding the state’s otherwise limited testing capacity,” the Lexington Herald-Leader reports. “The sweeping impact of the machines, however, will be blunted, at least initially, as the state has only received 120 corresponding rapid tests.”
  • The Trump administration is planning a testing program for cities and towns that haven’t been heavily hit by the virus, as a way of getting information needed to reopen the economy, Bloomberg reports.
  • Baptist Health is furloughing employees, cutting executive pay and making other staff changes, citing the virus. It didn’t mention Gov. Andy Beshear’s order that stopped elective procedures, but such orders have been cited as reasons for hospital furloughs in Kentucky and other states. “Furloughs affect regular full-time and part-time employees who don’t support caregivers or aren’t critical to clinical operations related to covid-19,” the Herald-Leader reports. “The University of Kentucky Chandler Hospital also has told workers it will redeploy some employees while others will have to apply for unemployment” benefits.
  • Asked what the state could do to help hospitals, Beshear said he is working on ideas such as bridge loans, Medicaid reimbursement changes, help with buying personal protective equipment, and possible use of federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act money. He said “significant dollars” are needed because the lack of elective procedures “has just decimated their balance sheets.”
  • Beshear said he had a good conversation Wednesday night with Vice President Mike Pence and asked for help in locating PPE. “He said he would start working on it,” Beshear said. “Our requests are pretty reasonable.” He said work with other sources should produce “some real success” in the next two days.
  • The University of Louisville said it would furlough employees and reduce the pay of employees making $100,000 or more a year.
  • UK HealthCare and Baptist Health have partnered with the Kentucky Blood Center to collect plasma from Kentuckians who have recovered from covid-19 to build up a “plasma bank” that can be used for serious or immediately life-threatening infections, says a UK Now news release. The Food and Drug Administration recently released guidelines to allow this investigative therapy, which could help covid-19 patients recover faster by offering passive immunity from the antibodies in the donated plasma. The Cynthiana Democrat reports on a man who had a mild case and donated plasma. Click here for the donor information form.
  • Beshear relaxed workers’ compensation rules to allow temporary total disability payments to several types of workers who have to quarantine because of possible exposure to the virus: child-care, grocery, postal-service and social workers, corrections officers, military personnel and workers at domestic violence shelters and rape crisis centers.
  • The governor said one more inmate and one more employee at Green River Correctional Complex in Central City, and three more employees at Western State Hospital in Hopkinsville, had tested positive for the virus.
  • Beshear said he had closed Natural Bridge and Cumberland Falls state resort parks because of gatherings at the popular facilities.
  • He played a video of four faith leaders urging people to stay at home and said, “I couldn’t be more grateful, and I couldn’t be more proud, of our pastors, ministers, rabbis, imams, deacons and everyone else for not only recognizing that we need to be worshiping at home, but for all that they offer.”
  • One of Beshear’s pastors at Beargrass Christian Church in Louisville talked with Jack Brammer of the Herald-Leader about the governor’s faith as the administration planned how to deal with a few churches that are still holding services despite his emergency orders.
  • The state lottery warned of an increase in scam phone calls telling players they have won a big prize from the lottery, asking them to pre-pay taxes or provide bank-account information.
  • Pike County officials issued cease-and-desist orders to a cosmetologist and massage therapist who kept providing services in their homes despite a visit from a law enforcement officer. Health Director Tammy Riley told the Herald-Leader that the county has received many complaints about violators, but most of them have complied upon request.
    Read more here:
  • Read more here:
  • A Lawrenceburg man faces menacing and disorderly-conduct charges, alleging he coughed on and threw punches at someone in the Walmart parking lot, The Anderson News reports. Ronnie Kelly’s “bond was set at $250 and his release conditions included a two-week medical quarantine,” the Herald-Leader reports.
  • Senate Democrats blocked Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s effort to add $250 billion to the new loan program for small businesses distressed by the pandemic, asking addition of $100 billion for hospitals and $150 billion for state and local governments. McConnell said, “I want to add more money to the only part of our bipartisan bill that is currently at risk of running out of money. . . . We cannot play games with this crisis.” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the House would not approve that under unanimous-consent rules that allow passage of bills with few members present.
  • Lexington restaurants are coping with the coronavirus shutdown but many are reaching out to give to others, too,” Janet Patton reports for the Herald-Leader. “Some are sending food to hospitals and first responders; others are feeding those in need, including fellow hospitality workers who have been laid off.”
  • The Washington Post tells the story of how the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention traced a Chicago coronavirus cluster to two family gatherings, and how 16 likely cases and three deaths traced back to one person. The case study, published Wednesday, “is one of the most detailed looks at how covid-19 moves through communities and shows how a single person can set off a chain reaction of infections,” the Post reports. Here’s a CDC chart about the process, called contact tracing:
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