Health Kentucky Politics

Gov. Andy Beshear said the number of people who die from coronavirus in Kentucky will depend on residents’ commitment to practice social distancing and adhere to government ordered restrictions that are intended to help stop the spread of the virus.

During his regular evening briefing on Friday, Beshear said 90 more people have tested positive for COVID-19, raising the total number of positive cases to at least 831.

Six more people, four women and two men, have died, he said. The total number of people who have died from the coronavirus is 37. 

At least 228 people have fully recovered, he said.

Beshear showed several projections during his briefing estimating the total coronavirus death toll for Kentucky, which range from 1,200 people to 13,000, depending on the level of social distancing practices followed by residents.

“I know this can be scary,” he said. “It is. This whole thing’s scary.”

Beshear did not announce any new restrictive orders on businesses or residents. To date he has ordered a wide swath of businesses to close, and more recently, has banned camping in state parks and set limitations on out of state travel. He said the current restrictions will be in place at least until the end of the month, and maybe longer.

“We know we are going to be at this for weeks or months,” he said.

Beshear said the residents at six nursing homes have tested positive for the virus, and staff members have tested positive at three nursing homes.

“This is an area where people are very susceptible, and we want to protect them the best we can,” he said.

Beshear said the need for personal protection equipment for frontline healthcare workers continues to be critical. He encouraged anyone who has masks or gloves or other supplies to donate them if possible. Donations are accepted at each of the state’s 16 Kentucky State Police posts, as well as at state transportation offices in Lexington and Louisville.

“I believe we have millions upon millions of pieces of PPE that are out there in Kentucky,” he said.

And he expects the state’s stock of available hospital beds to rise to more than 25,000 beds as extra field hospitals are added. State officials are prepping the Kentucky state fairgrounds as a temporary hospital to provide added space for coronavirus treatment, as needed.

As usual, Beshear urged people to stay home and venture out only if they need supplies, like medication or groceries. He also encouraged people to enjoy the upcoming nice weather, but stressed the need to stay away from crowds.

“The stakes are real,” he said. “We will get through this, and we will get through this together.”

Jacob Ryan is a reporter for the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting.