4 new test sites announced; legislature drops business bill that raised Beshear’s ire; state Chamber sets ‘what next’ webinars

An intubation box, similar to one shown by Dr. Steven Stack at the governor’s daily briefing, is used
to limit health-care workers’ exposure to the coronavirus when intubating a patient. (WDRB image)

As news develops in Kentucky about the coronavirus and its covid-19 disease, this item will be updated. Official state guidance is at https://kycovid19.ky.gov.

Gov. Andy Beshear announced four more sites to test Kentuckians for the coronavirus, and deferred most comment on President Trump’s plan for relaxing restrictions to fight it, at his daily briefing Thursday.

Beshear said the Kroger-sponsored sites will be open in Paducah, Madisonville, Somerset and Pikeville Tuesday through Thursday, with a goal of testing 1,000 people apiece. He said they will be open to people in the respective regions, not just the counties of the testing sites or adjoining counties, the practice for the first two sites, in Franklin and Kenton counties. The Kenton location is open through Saturday. To schedule a test at one of the Kroger sites, go to thelittleclinic.com/drive-thru-testing. “Let’s not leave one test unused,” he said.

Beshear said he had seen a “high-level summary” of Trump’s plan, and heard it discussed on a call for governors, but would reserve specific comments on it until Friday because “I think he ought to be able to present it.”

“It is just a recommendation that states take certain steps,” he said. “A lot of them are the guidelines that we’re thinking about and would have been talking about tomorrow,” when he had already planned to discuss the topic.
He said that on Friday, he will give his analysis of the plan and “our additional metrics . . . and maybe where we are on some of those metrics. . . . It’s gonna take significant amounts of testing and then contact tracing.” The plan included no guidance for states on those points.

Beshear reiterated that easing of restrictions will be gradual, and differential. “The new normal is going to be different than our old normal,” he said, adding, “Our seniors and vulnerable populations are still gonna be very very much at risk from this virus.”

Also, he said, “We believe we are still on an upward trajectory” in cases and deaths. He announced 159 new cases, for a corrected total of 2,429, and said “We believe tomorrow is gonna be one of the highest numbers we’ve seen because many reports have been delayed. “What we really need to look at are the averages over these days,” he said.

One of the new cases was a 10-day-old baby in Lincoln County. “This is a family that just had a miracle occur and is probably living through a nightmare,” Beshear said.

In other covid-19 news Thursday:

  • Showing a social-media comment that nothing can be done about people dying from covid-19, Beshear said, “There is something that everybody can do about this coronavirus. It’s following those 10 steps. If you stay healthy at home, then you prevent people from dying. If you engage in social distancing, then you can stop people from dying. If you make sure that you follow our 10 rules . . . that is how we do everything it takes to beat this virus. It is in each and everyone of our hands.”
  • Beshear announced that seven more Kentuckians had died from covid-19, bringing the state’s total to 129. The most recent deaths were a 79 year-old man and 68- and 92-year old women from Jefferson County; an 85-year-old man from Jackson County; a 78-year-old woman from Adair County; a 69-year-old woman from Shelby County; and a 67-year-old female from Graves County.
  • The General Assembly did not pass a last-day bill that would have directed trade groups and licensing boards to give Beshear a plan for safely reopening certain businesses. Senate Bill 136 passed the House 86-3, but got no action in the Senate. WLKY-TV reports, “A spokesperson for Senate Republicans said the bill had technical flaws, and there was not time to get it redrafted.” Beshear, who had objected to the idea, could have vetoed the bill without fear of a legislative override.
  • The legislature overrode a vetoed section of the budget bill prohibiting Beshear from spending unbudgeted funds without legislative approval, but added language to a rural-hospital bill allowing unbudgeted restricted funds to be used for personal protective equipment during the state of emergency.
  • The governor said Western State Hospital in Hopkinsville saw five new cases and Green River Correctional Complex in Central City saw two new cases, one inmate and one staffer.
  • The state’s long-term care facilities had 27 new cases and one new death. Eleven of the new cases were among staff. In all, 283 residents and 148 staff have tested positive for the virus , and 37 residents and one staffer have died.
  • Kentucky, Wisconsin, Illinois, Minnesota, Michigan, Indiana and Ohio have joined to closely coordinate plans to repoen their economies, Beshear said. Asked what would be needed to partner with Tennessee, he said Tennessee had taken a different approach and had not reached out to Kentucky, “and I guess given some of my comments I can understand that.” When Tennessee had relatively lax rules and a higher rate of cases, Beshear compared the two states’ performances.
  • Health Commissioner Steven Stack showed a plexiglass intubation box made by First Build, a subsidiary of General Electric, to place around heads of covid-19 patients to help protect health-care workers from exposure to the virus when they place breathing tubes in the patients. He said First Build has made 500 boxes to be distributed across the state.
  • Beshear said the state will offer non-congregate shelter for persons needing isolation at Lake Barkley and Lake Cumberland state resort parks, beginning Sunday, April 19. Placement will be by referral only from public health and clinicians, for people who are sick or have been exposed to the virus and cannot safely go home and have nowhere else to go. They will get meals, basic first aid, TV and internet access. He said other parks will be used as needed. The program will help relieve pressure on hospitals as well as to prevent the spread of the virus, he said.
  • The Lexington Herald-Leader reports on how Kentuckians who have lost health insurance because of covid-19 can apply for Medicaid.
  • The Kentucky Chamber of Commerce is hosting two webinars in response to the covid-19 pandemic. The first, “How Can Business Re-Open and Protect Public Health?” will be at 1 p.m. Tuesday, April 21. Click here to register. The second, “How Does Kentucky’s Economy Rebound From Covid-19?” will be at 2 p.m. Thursday, April 23. Click here to register.
  • UK Now tells the story of how staff and volunteers with the Cooperative Extension Service are assembling face shields and sewing masks for the state’s health-care industry.
  • Stat, in collaboration with the Center on Rural Innovation and Applied XL, created an interactive dashboard that examines every U.S. county’s covid-19 preparedness level.
  • With a 30 percent false-negative rate, largely because of difficulty getting a proper sample, many are concerned that using some current covid-19 tests to see who can go back to work is not reliable. Stat reports that China has used a chest CT scans to diagnose infections, which one study found to be 97% reliable.
  • The Associated Press reports that the federal government is under pressure to publicly track nursing-home outbreaks and deaths. “This is basic public health — you track this, you study it, and you learn from it,” said David Grabowski, who specializes in health-care policy at Harvard Medical School. He told the AP that it’s difficult to have confidence in officials’ ability to contain the virus if they aren’t tracking where it has struck and why.
  • Since April 14, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has included probable cases and deaths from covid-19, in addition to confirmed cases and deaths. The Washington Post reports that there is great variance among states in how they tally covid-19 case and death, making it difficult to compare one state to another. Kentucky attributes to covid-19 the death of any person found to have the virus, including in tests after death, which some states don’t do.
  • “Clinicians around the world are seeing evidence that suggests the virus also may be causing heart inflammation, acute kidney disease, neurological malfunction, blood clots, intestinal damage and liver problems,” the Post reports. “That development has complicated the treatment of the most severe cases of covid-19.”
  • The Post reports, with a graphic, that covid-19 is rapidly becoming America’s leading cause of death.
    Graphic from The Washington Post shows causes of death in U.S. April 6-12. To enlarge, click on it.
Previous Article
Next Article