FRANKFORT — In the style of a coach preparing a team for a particularly important game, Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear tried to prepare the people of his state Wednesday for what he said will be the biggest moments of the commonwealth’s battle with COVID-19.

Speaking in his daily update from the Kentucky State Capitol, Beshear urgently told Kentuckians that the next two to three weeks will be “absolutely critical" in determining how the commonwealth will ultimately emerge from this threat.

“This is the time!” Beshear said on a day where he reported something that he said was rare for states bordering Kentucky, a reduction in the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19. Wednesday, there were 35 new cases, sending Kentucky’s number to 198. On Tuesday, that number was 39.

“We expect new cases every day. In fact, we do have the fifth death to report today, a 75-year-old male from Jefferson County and I will be lighting my house green tonight (a color picked to show support to COVID-19 victims) and I hope everybody else will light theirs green as well.

“But this is crunch time. In other states, we are showing, in many places, a doubling of cases, and we have no doubt that when we get more data, that what we have done is better protecting ourselves than those around us.”

Beshear had news for people who have lost their jobs because of this situation. He said independent contractors, small business owners, substitute teachers, gig-economy workers, child care workers, cosmetologists and anyone who has had to leave their job because of quarantine now qualifies for unemployment in Kentucky.

“You will now be able to file and we want you to,” he said. “If you have filed, you don’t have to do anything else. If you have not filed, sign up by your last name. If you’re day has already passed, sign up tomorrow (at kcc.ky.gov). There is zero stigma right now to being on public assistance. State government and I have made decisions that caused all of this.

“I want you to sign up for unemployment, knowing the ramifications of the decisions I have made. It’s on me. I want to make sure you get through this.”

Beshear also announced that he believes next week will see the first drive-though COVID-19 testing sites opened in Kentucky. He said this would start on a limited basis.

In addition, Beshear said that no Kentuckian facing an eviction will be evicted at this time. He said that is because, in his words, “we need people to stay at home.” Payments will still be due but at a later date.

Beshear also urged Kentucky families to take advantage of this time to do outdoors activities.

“Healthy at home means healthy around your home. It doesn’t mean you can’t get outside,” he said.

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