Gov. Andy Beshear announced on Saturday that elective procedures at Kentucky hospitals will be suspended. He also told child care centers to have a plan to close that they can enact within 72 hours if necessary in response to the coronavirus’ spread throughout Kentucky.
At an afternoon press conference, Beshear called the decision “another tough step” but said he hopes this announcement gives people lead time to plan should closing the child centers become necessary.
“I know a lot of people are watching this and wondering how they will deal with that, how they will manage the child care. If it wasn’t absolutely necessary or we didn’t think it would become or could become necessary, we wouldn’t ask for these plans,” Beshear said.
Beshear announced 16 people in the state had tested positive for coronavirus, but two hours later that total had already risen to 18. A 27-year-old woman in Harrison County who tested positive is out of the hospital and recovering. The state government is still waiting for additional confirmation and details of a new positive case in Jefferson County.
Beshear also announced that a Nelson County resident was being put under forced isolation after the individual tested positive for coronavirus and refused to self-quarantine.
“We can’t allow one person who we know has this virus to refuse to protect their neighbors,” Beshear said. The individual is quarantined in their home with a law enforcement officer keeping watch.
Shortly after the governor spoke, Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer announced the Louisville Free Public Library would immediately be closing all 17 of its locations. Fischer noted that the library has already announced it would eliminate fines for people with overdue material and that people with books currently checked out should not return them at this time.
“We absolutely wish this was not necessary, we learned from other cities, Seattle in particular, that this is an important step to take,” Fischer said.
Library Director Lee Burchfield said that the library’s online movies, e-books and research tools will still be available online.
At the same press conference, Fischer announced that the city would be closing all Metro government community centers as well as the Mary T. Meagher Aquatic Center and some indoor Louisville Zoo attractions.
However, five community centers will still be open in order to facilitate a meal distribution program for seniors, these are: Shawnee Community Center, Beechmont Community Center, Sun Valley Community Center, Wilderness Road Senior Center and the Arthur S Kling Community Center.
Tameka Laird, Director of the Louisville Metro Office of Resilience & Community Services, said the meal distribution program will provide up to 1,000 seniors per day with a package of five frozen meals. The program will start on Tuesday, March 17 and go through April 3rd.
This post has been updated.