Health

For the first time since the coronavirus was first detected in Kentucky, Gov. Andy Beshear did not give his daily briefing on Saturday. Instead, an estimated 1,000 protestors gathered at the state capitol to criticize the restrictions put in place to deal with the coronavirus.

Beshear addressed those protests on Sunday, when he resumed his briefings. He focused on the public figures who spoke at the rally and encouraged others to take off their masks or violate social distancing. The protest was attended by four Kentucky state representatives and one state senator, all Republicans. Rep. Savannah Maddox, a Republican from Dry Ridge, reportedly said she would not get a vaccine for the coronavirus.

“That’s just reckless,” Beshear said. “It’s OK to disagree, but if you are a leader that people listen to, be responsible in how you do it.”

Beshear did not say whether citations would be issued for those who attended the mass gathering, some of whom Beshear said came from out of state. Beshear said that, although the protest seemed large, it doesn’t reflect the vast majority of Kentuckians who agree with the actions taken by the Beshear administration.

“We shouldn’t focus on the one percent that don’t believe COVID-19 is real,” Beshear said. “We ought to focus on the 99% that have sacrificed for one another to do the right thing.”

Also at Sunday’s briefing, acting secretary of the Cabinet for Health and Family Services Eric Friedlander detailed steps the state is taking to protect child care capacity during the coronavirus epidemic.

“Child care is a critical component to this state, and we’ve struggled for a long time with having the best child care, enough child care,” Friedlander said. “The coronavirus has placed even more strain on Kentucky’s child care centers and the cabinet has also worked with institutions to set up limited duration child care centers to take care of the children of emergency responders and front line healthcare workers.”

Friedlander said Kentucky was using the Child Care Assistance Program and funds approved by Congress as part of the CARES Act to help make sure Kentucky child care centers stay open and the state does not lose child care capacity. Friedlander also said the state was offering what he called a “hero bonus”, a one time payment of around $1,500 per person under a facility’s care.

“When we’ve asked someone to help us out, we need to support them too,” Friedlander said. “So we’re trying to do everything that we can to make sure that we maintain the capacity that we’ve had. Because we know we need more, and so we’re going to make sure that we don’t lose any through this.”

Beshear announced 173 new positive coronavirus cases from Saturday and another 80 from Sunday, when many testing locations were closed. The governor announced five deaths for the weekend, all reported on Saturday. This brings the state total to 5,130 people with coronavirus, and at least 253 deaths.