FRANKFORT – As of 4 p.m. Central time Sunday, Kentucky had 21 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, Gov. Andy Beshear said.
In several public statements over the weekend and in a Sunday news conference, Beshear defended the aggressive actions he has taken and recommended to try to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
“I am not going to be the governor who acts two weeks too late,” Beshear said . “I will continue to act swiftly to limit the spread and reduce the risk to Kentuckians, particularly those vulnerable populations. My promise to Kentuckians is we will work through this together and make sure we get through this.”
Beshear said that while the state’s first patient fully recovered from the virus, he continues to take aggressive action to protect Kentuckians. Unfortunately, another of the 21 patients is in critical condition and is not expected to recover. Beshear said that while the coronavirus is not the only factor in that individual’s condition, it is a contributing factor.
Beshear said that after attending a recent event in Louisville where someone who attended later tested positive, Beshear tested negative on Saturday and is not showing any symptoms.
Beshear also announced on Sunday that 14 of the 16 Kentuckians who were on the Grand Princess cruise ship are on their way back to the state. He said two other Kentuckians, who were at a different Air Force base, will return Monday.
“These are our people. I don’t think they have been treated the way they should,” Beshear said. “This is happening because I have demanded it and our commissioner of health has demanded it.”
Beshear urged people not to unnecessarily buy large amounts of food and household items, making it unavailable for others.
“Fear can cause more harm than this virus ever will,” he said. “I am asking everyone to be a good neighbor. We take care of each other in this state.”
Beshear also asked people to be responsible and not pack in to restaurants and bars. He said he would be forced to follow Ohio and shut down restaurants if people do not listen.
“We are asking people to make major sacrifices in this state,” he said. “We are shutting down schools for a couple of weeks.”
Murray Independent School District Superintendent Coy Samons and Calloway County Schools Tres Settle both announced Thursday that they had followed the Beshear Administration’s advice and would be closing all local schools starting today through at least next Friday, March 27. Students have been provided with materials to learn through non-traditional instruction methods.
Beshear said one person, who tested positive at UofL, left against medical advice and returned to his home in Nelson County. The Lincoln Trail District Health Department asked him to self-quarantine, but he refused, Beshear said. The Cabinet for Health and Family Services is currently working with the local county attorney and county judge-executive to obtain an order to force him to quarantine in his home, a news release from the Governor’s Office said.
Beshear said that while the state’s first patient fully recovered from the virus, he continues to take aggressive action to protect Kentuckians, including recommending that childcare centers prepare plans so that they could close within 72 hours if it were to become necessary.
“While children remain at low risk, they can carry the virus and we must do everything we can to reduce its spread and protect our most vulnerable, including our senior citizens,” Beshear said. “We are going to get through this as one team – Team Kentucky. We must remain calm and take care of each other by practicing good hygiene, social distancing and sharing. We have heard about a new mom who cannot get formula for her new baby; we need everyone to be a good teammate and practice sharing.”
Beshear added that hospitals should end elective procedures by Wednesday.
“We’re going to rely a lot on their judgment for what is elective,” Beshear said. “We need all the capacity we can to deal with the cases that we believe we are going to see. We are going to work with them to give them the flexibility to repurpose a lot of their staff.”