Protesters gather at Capitol; federal prison reports cases; federal appeals court declines to exempt church from ban on gatherings

State Rep. David Hale, R-Wellington, spoke to the rally, (Lexington Herald-Leader photo by Ryan Hermens)

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

Protesters gathered at the state Capitol Saturday afternoon to demand that Gov. Andy Beshear ease his restrictions on economic activity in the pandemic.

“It’s not time to open Kentucky next week, or tomorrow or this evening. Open Kentucky now,” said Republican state Rep. Savannah Maddox of Dry Ridge, one of six legislators who spoke at a rally advertised by the Central Kentucky Tea Party. Attendance estimates varied wildly; the Lexington Herald-Leader said “around 200 attended,” but the Louisville Courier Journal put the number at “around 1,000.”

Few wore masks, and the master of ceremonies, Lee Watts, asked those who did to take them off. “An X-ray technician wearing scrubs and a mask stood in silent protest of the gathering,” the CJ reports. “Several attendees holding signs moved to block her as speeches began, while others screamed insults at her.”

Beshear, who recently moved his daily briefings from the Capitol to the state Emergency Operations Center at the Frankfort airport, did not hold a briefing Saturday for the first day in eight weeks. He said he needed a break.

In other covid-19 news Saturday:
  • At least 33 inmates and one employee at the Federal Medical Center on Leestown Pike in Lexington have tested positive for the coronavirus, the Lexington Herald-Leader reports. It’s part of a national problem, The Washington Post reports.
  • “The U.S. Court of Appeals for Sixth Circuit ruled Saturday that Gov. Andy Beshear and other state officials cannot prevent Maryville Baptist Church from holding drive-in worship services during the coronavirus pandemic,” the Louisville Courier Journal reports. “But the three-judge panel declined to extend the injunction to in-person services at the Bullitt County church, noting it was not comfortable doing so after being given the case 24 hours earlier.” Beshear has encouraged drive-in services, but the church claimed that state police gave quarantine notices to drive-in worshipers at the church on Easter Sunday, and the court noted that his order banning mass gatherings did not provide a drive-in exception.
  • Kroger Co. said Friday it will limit purchases of ground beef and fresh pork at some stores due to concerns over meat shortages from supply disruptions caused by coronavirus outbreaks in the meatpacking industry. It did not identify the stores. Walmart said it does not expect to limit purchases, CNN reports, but “Other large grocers say they expect to be out of stock on different types of cuts very soon.”
  • Janet Patton of the Herald-Leader writes, “Where can you go if the big stores don’t have the meat you’re looking for? In Kentucky, at least, you have tons of options, many with locally grown proteins. She names them.
  • The Herald-Leader’s Linda Blackford previews a special section in Sunday’s print edition about everyday heroes who have kept working and adopted new routines to help others: “Family resources coordinators try to break down barriers to learning, so they spend long weeks finding clothes or therapists or food. . . . Like the cafeteria workers who feed students during the week, the sanitation workers who pick up our trash or grocery workers who keep us nourished, they’ve been there all along. It’s just taken a crisis to reveal how important they are.”
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