Health

WFPL News reporters will be updating this story whenever we have new information about the coronavirus in Kentucky and Indiana. Scroll down for older information.

Here’s what you need to know right now:

Find all of our coverage here.  

Tuesday, May 26

6:35 p.m.: More than 50 people tested positive for COVID-19 at a long-term care facility in Louisville over Memorial Day weekend.

Thirty-nine residents and 20 staff tested positive for the virus at the Nazareth Home Clifton in Louisville, said Eric Friedlander, Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services secretary.
“Yesterday, along with Louisville EMS, we were able to transfer those residents effectively into the hospital and stabilize that facility,” he said.

Even as cases begin to decline across the state, nursing homes and longer-term care facilities will remain a challenge for the foreseeable future, Friedlander said. In total, more than 11,000 staff and residents have been tested in long-term care facilities across the state.

“We’re going to see this probably again in Kentucky, and we will have plans in place, and we will respond aggressively, and that is what we do,” he said.

12:11 p.m.: Indiana reports 18 new deaths from Covid-19, bringing the death toll to 1,850. There have been 32,078 diagnosed cases of Covid-19 in the state.

Monday, May 25

1:00 p.m.: State health officials say 354 more Indiana residents have been diagnosed with COVID-19, and an additional eight people have died from the disease. The Indiana State Department of Health reported Monday the total number of confirmed cases of the coronavirus is now 31,715, after corrections to Sunday’s total. A total of 1,832 Indiana residents have died. A total of 226,251 tests have been reported to the state health department to date, with a positive test rate of 14%. That includes testing conducted by the state, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and private laboratories. — The Associated Press

Sunday, May 24

4:05 p.m.: Jefferson County saw 17 new cases of the coronavirus today, bringing the total to 2,266. Mayor Greg Fischer also announced two new deaths: a 67-year-old female and a 66-year-old male. At least 147 people from Jefferson County have now died after contracting COVID-19.

12:15 p.m.: Yesterday, a group of women with ties to Kentucky’s Green River Correctional Complex gathered outside the governor’s mansion to push for more releases during the pandemic.

As of May 22, 357 inmates and 50 staff members have tested positive for the coronavirus at Green River. Three men have died. Read more here.

Saturday, May 23

6:26 p.m.: Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear says there are 148 new cases of COVID-19 in the commonwealth, but no new deaths to report on Saturday. That brings the total number of confirmed cases to 8,571 and 291 deaths.

Beshear has paused his daily coronavirus briefings over the Memorial Day weekend. In a press release, he reminded Kentuckians to not relax their guard for the holiday.

“I am urging Kentuckians to please be safe this weekend,” Gov. Beshear said in the release. “As we recover, we are depending on Kentuckians to take the steps necessary to protect one another this weekend and every day and weekend moving forward.”

1:00 p.m.: Health officials say another 513 Indiana residents have tested positive for the COVID-19 virus, bringing the state’s total to more than 30,900. The Indiana State Department of Health also said Saturday that deaths attributed to the disease have risen by 21 to 1,812. Another 152 probable deaths have been reported based on clinical diagnoses in patients for whom no positive test is on record. Officials say more than 214,930 tests have been reported to the health department. That’s up from 208,561 reported Friday. — The Associated Press

11:51 a.m.: Wondering how many cases of COVID-19 and related deaths have been reported in your Kentucky county? We’re continuing to update our Local COVID-19 Tracker, which brings you county-level coronavirus data that are both timely and easy to understand.

The tracker allows you to select your county and view the most recent COVID-19 related cases and deaths, as well as information about vulnerable populations in your county. Check it out here.

Friday, May 22

6:12 p.m.: Gov. Andy Beshear says Kentucky is seeing a decline of new coronavirus cases, a key metric he has said would be used to determine how much the virus is spreading and whether businesses can reopen during the pandemic.

“We now think we have not just plateaued, but we are in a decline in overall number of cases, especially when you look at the amount of testing we’re doing” Beshear said during his daily press conference on Friday.

“And that is really good.”

There were 141 new cases of COVID-19 reported in Kentucky on Friday, for a total of 8,426.

It’s hard to determine a decline from the raw number of new cases reported each day by state officials. Looking back over the last week, there were 122 new cases reported on Sunday, 138 on Monday, 164 on Tuesday, 166 on Wednesday, and 135 on Thursday. There were 252 last Friday.

Beshear has attributed recent spikes of new cases to a ramp up in testing across the state and thorough testing of high risk areas like nursing homes and prisons.

Also on Friday, Kentucky Secretary of State Michael Adams unveiled the website where Kentuckians can request mail-in absentee ballots for the June 23rd primary elections. Voters can request a ballot or register to vote at GoVoteKy.com.

The deadline to register is May 26 at 4:00; the deadline to request a ballot is June 15 at midnight.

3:40 p.m.: Indiana heath officials have added the deaths of 28 more people with confirmed or presumed coronavirus infections to the state’s toll from the pandemic. Those additional deaths, most of which occurred Wednesday or Thursday, give the state an overall total of 1,941 confirmed or presumed COVID-19 fatalities since Indiana’s first was recorded March 15. Meanwhile, Indiana’s unemployment rate hit 16.9% for April with more than five times as many people jobless than before widespread business closures started with the coronavirus outbreak. The Indiana jobless rate announced Friday was higher than the 14.7% national rate. Officials report about 546,000 people unemployed in Indiana. — The Associated Press

Thursday, May 21

6:51 p.m.: The state has released safety guidance for Kentucky daycares to reopen next month. According to the guidance, in-home child care programs can resume June 8 and licensed child care centers on June 15.

Secretary of the Cabinet for Health and Family Services Eric Friedlander spoke on the issue during the governor’s Thursday briefing. He said child care has been a much-talked about issue because it’s “one of those areas that we know is critical to opening the economy, critical to parents, has been critical to our essential workers.”

Guidance requirements include staggered playground time, no family events or field trips, limiting groups of children to 10 or fewer, and a centralized drop-off and pick-up location. Everyone is required to wear a mask except kids 5 and under.

“That’s always a balance between protecting ourselves, our families and being able to go back and be healthy at work,” Friedlander said.

The secretary also said the state has issued nearly $62 million to daycares around the state since March to ensure that facilities survive this crisis. He also spoke about a new benefit for families to make sure that “children don’t go hungry.” The Pandemic Electronic Benefits Transfer, or P-EBT, is a federal food assistance program for kids who would have received free or reduced lunch in school. Friedlander said those already receiving benefits like SNAP should see the funds automatically added to their cards. He said “some folks who get free or reduced meals” can also apply.

“When you apply for these benefits, it’s not just you as the individual that benefits,” he said. “It’s your grocers, it’s your local businesses, it’s the entire food system in Kentucky that benefits.”

Gov. Andy Beshear reported another 135 new cases of coronavirus in Kentucky. The state’s new total is 8,286. He said another 10 Kentuckians have died from COVID-19. — Stephanie Wolf

12:42 p.m. The U.S. Department of Labor reported close to 99,000 additional unemployment insurance claims in the last week from Kentucky, Ohio and West Virginia, as state unemployment offices worked their way through a backlog of millions of claims filed since the coronavirus pandemic forced business closures beginning in March.

For the week ending May 16, Kentucky reported 47,036 claims, Ohio had 46,494, and West Virginia reported 4,853. Nearly 2.5 million people have filed unemployment insurance claims in the three states since mid-March.

Nationally, the Labor Dept. reported 2.4 million unemployment claims for the week, bringing the total of jobless Americans seeking help to a staggering 38.6 million over the last nine weeks. — Jeff Young

Wednesday, May 20

6:31 p.m.: Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear announced $300 million in CARES Act funding for city and county governments that will go out starting at 8 a.m. on Thursday.

During his Wednesday briefing, he said the money will reimburse local governments for expenses they accrued from the pandemic. Eligible expenses include personal protective equipment purchased for health and safety workers, materials used for disinfecting, payroll costs and necessary measures taken to allow public employees to telework during the crisis.

“You do not have the success we’ve had against COVID-19 without strong local leaders and the expenses that they put into it,” Beshear said.

The Department for Local Government will administer the funds through an application process.

“We hope that this is just an initial amount that we’ll be providing to these local governments,” he added.

Beshear expressed hope that Congress will swiftly pass another relief package. “Every city and county will tell you, without additional CARES Act funding to help them out, our recession will be deeper and there will be very serious cuts,” he said, adding that would impact public employees across the state and services that governments provide. “We need Congress to do this. The longer we wait, the more harmful it can be.”

He said he didn’t yet have an exact number of what Kentucky would need in terms of another round of federal aid.

The governor reported 166 new cases of coronavirus in Kentucky. The state is now at 8,167, which includes 108 probable cases. Beshear said another 10 Kentuckians have died from the virus.

12:45 p.m.: Retailers can open at limited capacity in Kentucky today, and even though museums can’t officially open until June 8, many museum gift shops are open for business. Here’s more.

9:00 a.m.: The Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting spoke to business leaders and elected officials who helped shape Beshear’s reopening policies, and economic and public health experts about how they’re likely to play out. And we interviewed workers and business owners from across the state that are most affected by these plans.

Regardless of what ultimately influenced Beshear to begin a phased reopening, the decision took place amid a confluence of economic worry, social distancing exhaustion and political pressure. Here’s more.

Tuesday, May 19

7:55 p.m.: The confirmed count of COVID-19 cases in Louisville is now 2,067, with 58 new cases reported today. With an additional three fatalities, the city’s death toll related to the disease is 132.

7:02 p.m.: Indiana health officials say the state has now had 1,678 people die with confirmed coronavirus infections since the state’s first death was recorded just over two months ago.

Most of Indiana’s 57 new confirmed COVID-19 deaths occurred between Friday and Monday. The other deaths date back as far as April 17. Two occurred on April 22, making it the state’s deadliest coronavirus day with 50 fatalities. —Associated Press

6:54 p.m.: The Belmont Stakes will be run June 20 in New York in front of no fans as the first leg of horse racing’s Triple Crown. This is the first year the Belmont will take place before the Kentucky Derby and Preakness. The new Belmont date was unveiled Tuesday by the New York Racing Association.

Because of the coronavirus, the Derby was moved to Sept. 5 and the Preakness to Oct. 3.

The rescheduled Belmont will be contested at a shorter distance — a mile and an eighth –instead of the race’s trademark mile and a half that has been in place since 1926.

Officials say the change was made because of the new Triple Crown schedule and to accommodate the training calendar for three-year old thoroughbreds. —Associated Press

6:37 p.m.: Kentucky museums, outdoor attractions, aquariums, libraries and distilleries will be allowed to reopen starting June 8, Gov. Andy Beshear announced during his Tuesday briefing. He said they’re still working out specific guidance for these industries, but “this gives these businesses some advance notice.”

Like retail and restaurants, which have reopening dates this week, businesses will have to operate at 33% capacity and individual groups must be 10 or less. Beshear said he hopes to see the Louisville Zoo reopen this summer as well, but his administration hasn’t spoken to any zoo officials yet.

As more of the state’s economy starts to reopen, the governor issued a reminder of some of the key safety measures, like mask wearing, enforced social distancing, frequent sanitation, and temperature and health checks.

“You can object to a mask on your own personal health, but it’s… going to impact other people’s health,” he said. “So it’s more about your willingness to protect other people if you’re wearing or not wearing one. [And] temperature checks are one that are so important, because shame on us if we miss that blatant sign that somebody might be infecting other people.”

And in light of the upcoming holiday weekend and an easing of gathering restrictions that will allow groups of up to 10, Beshear asked people to be cautious.

“This is our first chance to get together with people we have missed,” he said. “We want to reopen our economy. We want to get things humming again in a safe way. This weekend, we can’t screw it up.”

The governor reported 164 new cases. He said 90 of those are probable. The state’s total is now at 8,069. Beshear announced 20 new deaths. —Stephanie Wolf

Monday, May 18

6:38 p.m.: Kentucky is getting ready to ramp up its contact tracing efforts, Gov. Andy Beshear announced during his Monday briefing.

Beshear said they’ll use CARE Act funding, over a seven-month period, to expand contact tracing capacity for the state.

“This isn’t just me,” he said. “This is the president too. This is Democrats and Republicans, federal government, state government. This is public health experts saying this is what’s got to happen for us to have a safe reopening and to restart our economy without pausing it.”

State officials expect to hire 700 additional people to help with contact tracing, and training will happen this week and next. Between contact tracing and testing, Beshear expects to spend more than $100 million of CARES Act money.

State officials are looking into any privacy concerns around this issue, from technology to HIPAA, especially since contact tracing “doesn’t work without you buying in, without your voluntary commitment,” the governor said.

“Tracing isn’t effective without robust testing,” Beshear added, claiming that the state is at that point now. “We have the ability for everyone who wants to get tested to get tested.” He also asked people to get retested and to get tested even if you don’t have symptoms.

“To reduce the spread, we need to find those asymptomatic people,” he said.

Here’s a list of where you can get tested in Kentucky.

Beshear said 122 new cases were reported on Sunday and 138 on Monday, bringing the state’s total to 7,935. Over the two days, there were 12 new deaths, all in Jefferson County.

4:48 p.m.: Louisville has crossed 2,000 confirmed coronavirus cases, with 74 new cases announced today by Mayor Greg Fischer. He said 1,244 of the 2,009 people known to have the virus have recovered. The death toll in Louisville is 129, which is unchanged since yesterday despite the addition of one fatality today. That is because officials removed one duplicate, Fischer said. —Amina Elahi

12:49 p.m.: State health officials say another 14 Indiana residents have died from coronavirus illnesses, pushing the state’s death toll from confirmed or presumed cases of COVID-19 closer to 1,800. Statistics released Monday by the Indiana State Department of Health show that all but one of Indiana’s 14 new confirmed COVID-19 deaths occurred on Saturday and Sunday, boosting the state’s confirmed pandemic deaths to 1,621. The state agency’s statistics show that another 144 Hoosiers have died from probable infections of COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the virus. That raises Indiana’s confirmed or presumed COVID-19 deaths to 1,765. Indiana now has more than 28,000 coronavirus cases. — The Associated Press

Sunday, May 17

4:38 p.m.:  Louisville has confirmed 71 new COVID-19 cases this weekend, according to tweets from Mayor Greg Fischer. The total number of confirmed cases to date is 1,935. Since Friday, the city has lost three more people confirmed to have the disease, bringing the death toll to 129. About 63 percent of Louisville residents known to have contracted the coronavirus have recovered.  –Amina Elahi

12:18 p.m.: Indiana has reported 11 new deaths from COVID-19. The death toll stands at 1,607.

9:28 a.m.: Good morning. Gov. Beshear is not holding a briefing today. As a result, we are not expecting any updated coronavirus numbers for Kentucky.

Saturday, May 16

6:30 p.m.: In a video statement, Governor Andy Beshear announced that there are 244 new cases of coronavirus in Kentucky. He says many of the cases are in Jefferson County and are linked to outbreaks at JBS pork processing plant and Maryhurst.

Maryhurst is a residential facility for girls who have been placed in foster care by the state due to abuse or neglect. The Courier Journal reports 14 staff members at Maryhurst and 11 residents have tested positive for the virus.

The governor said there have now been at least 129,405 tests performed in the state, but the number is likely higher because many labs don’t report their numbers on Saturdays.

Friday, May 15

6:30 p.m.: Governor Andy Beshear has added to the list of businesses that can reopen on June 1, with safety measures in place. Beshear says aquatic centers can reopen that day, but that only includes exercise pools – not public pools where children and families would congregate.

Most state parks will also reopen on the first of June, but that does not include playgrounds and pools within those parks. Movie theaters and bowling alleys can open that day, too, and fishing tournaments and auto dirt racing can resume. 

The governor announced 252 new cases across the commonwealth, and 4 additional deaths. He said many of the new cases, and two of the deaths, are tied to the Federal Medical Center – a federal prison in Lexington.

The state’s total is now 7,444 positive cases. –Laura Ellis

1:00 p.m.: State health officials say 42 more Indiana residents have died from coronavirus illnesses, pushing the state’s pandemic death toll from confirmed or presumed cases of COVID-19 to nearly 1,700. The Indiana State Department of Health reported Friday that Indiana has now recorded 1,550 confirmed deaths from the respiratory disease caused by the virus. Indiana has also seen 141 deaths considered coronavirus-related by doctors but without confirmation of the illness from test results. Together, those deaths boost Indiana’s confirmed and probable deaths from the virus to 1,691 statewide. The state agency also reported Friday that 26,655 Hoosiers have now been diagnosed with COVID-19. — The Associated Press

Thursday, May 14

6:33 p.m.: Gov. Andy Beshear is moving up the date that people will be allowed to travel and gather in groups of 10 or fewer, to accommodate the Memorial Day weekend. The governor originally planned to lift his travel ban and allow for groups of up to 10 people to gather on Memorial Day, May 25. But he’s decided to lift the restrictions on Friday, May 22, instead.

“I’ve got to live in the real world like everyone else,” Beshear said during his daily press briefing Thursday. “I understand what people are going to want to do, and my job is to get the best results.”

The governor has released new guidelines for gathering in small groups. He’s asking people who come together to use social distancing, wear masks when within 6 feet of each other, and not share food or beverages.

Later in the briefing, the governor announced 199 new confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Kentucky, and two more deaths. A total of 328 Kentuckians have died of the disease. 7,225 people have been infected. –Jess Clark

4:29 p.m.: A statewide study by Indiana University researchers estimates that at least 2.8% of Indiana’s population has been infected by the coronavirus, a rate about 10 times that shown by previous testing. The testing of about 4,600 people at random around the state found 1.7% were infected at the time of the test and 1.1% tested positive for antibodies showing they were previously exposed. The findings estimate that Indiana has seen a 0.58% fatality rate among those infected. A professor who led the study says that rate is almost six times greater than the fatality rate for season flu. –The Associated Press

Wednesday, May 13

6:40 p.m.: The 10-year-old who has been hospitalized with a rare COVID-related pediatric condition has recovered enough to be taken off a ventilator, according to Gov. Andy Beshear.

“That is just a really good step,” Beshear said during his daily briefing Wednesday.

The 10-year-old is one of two Kentucky children who have been diagnosed with a rare but serious inflammatory condition caused by the coronavirus. A 16-year-old is also in the hospital with the condition.

The governor and health officials also expressed concern about a coronavirus hotspot emerging in Bowling Green. Kentucky public health commissioner Steven Stack said 708 people in the city have tested positive, the second-highest number of any city in the state, after Louisville.

Statewide, Kentucky saw 277 new cases Wednesday, bringing the state’s total confirmed positive cases to 7,080. More than 117,000 people have been tested. Five more Kentuckians have died of the disease. The state’s death toll from COVID-19 is 326 people. –Jess Clark

5:34 p.m.: Louisville has 11 new confirmed cases of coronavirus, with the city now totaling 1,788 cases, Mayor Greg Fischer announced during his Wednesday briefing. That shows fewer total cases than reported yesterday.

“After reviewing some of yesterday’s data, our team discovered some duplicates and other reporting errors,” Fischer said. “So we apologize for that… but we’re getting information from a lot of different sources.” Fischer also reported one new death, an 83-year-old woman. There have been 124 deaths from COVID-19 in Louisville so far.

For much of the briefing, the mayor spoke about the city’s budgeting challenges due to the pandemic. He said with reduced payroll taxes, a primary source of revenue for the city, “in less than three months, our city’s budget has dramatically changed, from anticipating a $19 million surplus, and then the virus struck.”

He said they’re now facing an approximate $27 million deficit by the end of June, and that will set things up to get only worse for the next fiscal year.

The city’s chief health strategist, Sarah Moyer, answered questions about a coronavirus-related inflammatory disease showing up in children. She said they’re monitoring it closely.

“It’s still very rare,” Moyer said. “But it is happening.” She said this does show that the threat of the virus is still very real and “we have new complications popping up everyday.” She added that if a child’s fever lasts more than three days, to reach out to a doctor. Moyer also said that they’ve extended the deadline for their contract tracer request for proposals to Friday due to “a lot of interest.” The city started with about nine tracers and has grown to a team of roughly 55, she said.  –Stephanie Wolf

9:45 a.m.: A Louisville landlord that charged a tenant late fees after she failed to pay rent in April is being sued in Jefferson Circuit Court.

The Kentucky Equal Justice Center filed the suit this week, alleging Summerfield Realty LLC engaged in unfair, false, misleading and deceptive practices after  charging a $91 late fee onto the account of Katrice Gill and threatening Gill with eviction.

Gill, in an interview with KyCIR last month, said she was unable to pay her rent due to the pandemic.

Read the story here.

Tuesday, May 12

6:36 p.m.:  A second child has been hospitalized in Kentucky with a rare coronarvirus-related inflammatory disease, according to Gov. Andy Beshear.

Beshear said Tuesday during his daily briefing that the patient is 16 years old, and has been hospitalized out of an abundance of caution. The first Kentucky child to be diagnosed with the syndrome is a 10-year-old who is still in critical condition on a ventilator.

“For these individuals that have this, this is very dangerous and life-threatening,” Kentucky Public Health Commissioner Steven Stack said.

Stack said the condition has symptoms similar to Kawasaki Syndrome, and causes inflammation throughout the body. Patients can have cardiovascular and respiratory collapse. Stack said children who come down with the disease do not always have respiratory symptoms initially, but instead might have rash, fever, fatigue, aches and watery eyes.

Beshear announced 191 new confirmed cases of coronavirus in Kentucky, for a total of 6,853 cases. Ten more Kentuckians have died from coronavirus, bringing the state’s death toll to 321 people.

Beshear said the number of cases confirmed remains relatively steady, despite an increase in testing capacity. The state has now tested more than 110,000 people. –Jess Clark

12:18 p.m.: U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky. made news this morning when he declared that outside of New England, “we never really reached any sort of pandemic levels in Kentucky and other states.” He lit up social media when he addressed Dr. Anthony Fauci directly and seemed to imply that Fauci was overstepping his role. Sen. Paul made his comments when the Senate Health Committee heard from Dr.  Fauci, Dr. Robert Redfield and other members of the White House Coronavirus Task Force. — staff

Monday, May 11

6:24 p.m.: A ten year old from Kentucky is in critical condition and on a ventilator due to a newly-identified inflammatory condition related to COVID-19.

State officials say the rare syndrome causes the immune system to be hyperactive and creates an extensive inflammatory response.

Kentucky Public Health Commissioner Steven Stack said the syndrome can manifest in children’s digestive systems or respiratory systems, but there is still little known about it.

“This disease is still out there. Though we’ve had great success in blunting its worst impact at large across the state, it’s still out there and it’s still a danger,” Stack said.

Similar cases of the condition affecting children have been reported in Louisiana, Mississippi and New York.

There were 105 new coronavirus cases in Kentucky on Monday. Gov. Andy Beshear says the total is artificially low due to a lack of reporting from labs over the weekend and that the state will “catch back up” by Wednesday.

There were 4 four more coronavirus-related deaths on Monday, for a total of 311. –Ryland Barton

5:16 p.m.: Louisville has confirmed 1,675 cases of COVID-19, up from 1,398 on May 1, Mayor Greg Fischer said. There were 27 new cases confirmed today, as well as one additional death, a 72-year-old female. There have been 119 deaths related to COVID-19 in Louisville to date, according to city figures. Overall, 1,012 people have recovered, a rate of about 60 percent.

With some non-essential businesses starting to reopen, Fischer said business owners and employees need to follow the Healthy at Work guidelines laid out by the Beshear administration, which include enforcing social distancing, cleaning and disinfecting and using personal protective equipment such as face masks. He said people concerned that businesses aren’t following these guidelines may report non-compliance to 311.

1:03 p.m.: In Indiana, the number of confirmed deaths from COVID-19 now stands at 1,411. The total number of coronavirus cases in Indiana is 24,627, according to the Indiana State Department of Health. — Amina Elahi

Sunday, May 10

4:55 p.m.: It’s a quiet Sunday morning in Bullitt County. Most church parking lots sit empty on this Mother’s Day morning, their services moved online due to coronavirus. But the sanctuary at Maryville Baptist Church in Hillview is filling up with people ahead of the 11 a.m. service.

Maryville Baptist Church never stopped meeting in person, despite Gov. Andy Beshear’s March 19 executive order prohibiting mass gatherings. But this week, their Sunday service won’t be against the law.

On Friday, a judge issued a temporary restraining order in a lawsuit filed by the Hillview church. The order allowed the church, and all religious services in Kentucky, to start meeting legally, and immediately.

Maryville Pastor Jack Roberts is glad to have this legal victory. But he didn’t mind meeting in violation of the law.

It’s never proper to follow laws that are illegal,” said Roberts. “And basically, that’s what was going on.”

Read more from Maryville and other churches as they responded to the opportunity to meet in person.

Saturday, May 9

7:00 p.m.: Gov. Andy Beshear is warning religious leaders not to rush into restarting in-person worship services, after two federal judges blocked the governor’s orders preventing congregations from gathering.

“People, take your time,” Beshear said. “You don’t want your house of worship to be a place where the coronavirus has spread.”

The governor said Friday that churches could open on May 20, if they followed strict social distancing guidelines and cleaning procedures. In light of the ruling, Beshear said he’s making that guidance effective beginning today.

Beshear also announced that beginning Wednesday, May 13, hospitals will be allowed to start admitting one visitor per patient.

Meanwhile health officials say they’ve finished testing the entire workforce at the Perdue chicken plant in Ohio County, after an outbreak. Kentucky’s public health commissioner Steven Stack said the test-positive rate for the plant was about 7.8%.

According to Beshear, the state had 158 new cases of COVID-19 Saturday, for a total of 6,440 confirmed cases. More than 2,300 have recovered. Six more Kentuckians have died, bringing the death toll to 304. — Jess Clark

9:08 a.m.: Churches all around the commonwealth will be allowed to hold in-person services on Sunday, after two federal rulings issued Friday.

U.S. District Judge Greg Van Tatenhove granted a temporary restraining order to Tabernacle Baptist Church in Nicholasville. The church was seeking to block Gov. Andy Beshear’s order barring in-person services to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, which was set to lift on May 20.

In a separate ruling, U.S. District Judge David Hale granted an appeal from Maryville Baptist Church in Louisville, which he had previously denied. Both churches claimed Beshear’s order violates the church’s right to freedom of religion under the First Amendment.

In a statement, Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron praised the rulings.

“I encourage all houses of worship to prayerfully and carefully consider when it is the right time to resume in-person services consistent with health guidelines,” he wrote. “Although these rulings protect the religious liberty of Kentuckians, we must continue to do our part to protect the health of our fellow citizens by reopening carefully.”

Attorneys for the state argued that Beshear’s order is not discriminatory because it extends to other, non-religious gatherings.

Friday, May 8

6:00 p.m.: Officials say they will test 100 percent of residents and staff in the roughly 300 nursing homes across Kentucky as the state tries to ramp up testing during the coronavirus pandemic.

Though Kentucky has banned visits at nursing homes since March 10, but the virus has spread in several of the state’s 286 long-term care facilities. The elderly are especially vulnerable to the virus.

Eric Friedlander, secretary of the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services, said that the state has already tested about 10% of residents and that it would likely take two months to test everyone.

Gov. Andy Beshear announced 176 new coronavirus cases in Kentucky on Friday, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 6,288. Four more people died, for a total of 298. — Ryland Barton

1 p.m.: State health officials say an additional 152 Hoosiers are confirmed or presumed to have died from the coronavirus, pushing Indiana’s death toll to more than 1,500. The Indiana State Department of Health announced Friday that a total of 1,328 Hoosiers have been confirmed to have died from COVID-19 _ 33 more than on Thursday, Another 119 probable deaths also have been reported. Testing shows 675 additional Hoosiers have been diagnosed with COVID-19, bringing to more than 23,000 the total number of Indiana residents known to have the disease. — Associated Press

Thursday, May 7

8:54 p.m: Louisville had 40 additional confirmed cases of coronavirus Thursday, which brought the city’s total to 1,553, according to a news release from Mayor Greg Fischer’s office. It said 906 people had recovered, or about 58%. Fischer’s office also announced five deaths confirmed to be related to COVID-19. After no new deaths yesterday, the total is 108. — Amina Elahi

6:02 p.m.: Kentucky restaurants will be able to open at one-third capacity starting May 22 as part of a new schedule of business reopenings announced by Gov. Andy Beshear.

Movie theaters and gyms will be able to open on June 1, campgrounds on June 11, childcare facilities and youth sports on June 15, and on July 1 bars will be allowed to open and groups of 50 can meet.

Beshear said businesses will have to meet social distancing, sanitary and personal protective equipment requirements in order to open and that people need to be ready to stop the rollout if the virus spikes.

“Any peak we see, any cause of major concern, we are all going to have to be willing to pause,” Beshear said.

Kentucky hasn’t seen a 14-day decline in cases and doesn’t yet have the high rate of testing officials say should happen before reopening. But Beshear said he’s moving forward because citizens and businesses are ready to follow safety requirements and the state is in the process of ramping up testing.

Beshear announced that the state is partnering with First Care Clinics, which has 13 urgent care centers across the state, to conduct 10,000 drive thru tests per week. He said that would bring the state’s weekly testing capacity to 40,000. Beshear said everyone should get tested.

“You’re wondering if it might be allergies? Go get a test. You’re just worried about your family because you’re going back to work? Get a test,” Beshear said. — Ryland Barton

1:22 p.m.: Indiana health officials have added 31 confirmed and six presumed coronavirus-related fatalities to the state’s death toll, putting the state over 1,400 fatalities. Most of the newly reported COVID-19 deaths occurred Tuesday or Wednesday, but one dated to April 21. The state statistics list 1,295 confirmed COVID-19 deaths, along with 119 probable deaths. — The Associated Press

Wednesday, May 6

7:00p.m.: Gov. Andy Beshear has revised his ban on traveling to Kentucky during the coronavirus pandemic after a judge temporarily blocked it earlier this week.

Beshear’s new order still requires people to quarantine for 14 days when they come to Kentucky unless traveling for work, visiting a doctor, getting groceries and other exceptions. But the new order adds a new exception for people traveling as part of their normal lives living in one state and working in another.

Beshear said the new order aligns with travel restrictions imposed in Ohio, which have been upheld by courts.

“What we have to make sure right now, with this virus not being gone, is somebody cannot travel from one of the hotspots — Philadelphia, Boston, or others right now — coming into an area and continuing to spread infections,” he said. “It’s the same reasons as before, we’re doing a lot better inside Kentucky.” Here’s more.

5:39 p.m.: With 37 new cases Wednesday, Louisville has now crossed 1,500 positive COVID-19 tests since the outbreak began in early March, Mayor Greg Fischer said. He cautioned that if testing were more widespread, the number would likely be higher. The city’s recovery rate remains at a bit over half, and with no new deaths reported, the number of Louisville residents lost related to the disease is still 108.

He continued to express concern about what he called “non-alignment” between Kentucky and Indiana as they reopen their economies at different rates. Fischer said he spoke with Ind. Gov. Eric Holcomb this morning and made a case for a regional approach to reopening, particularly for metro areas. Holcomb said he has no problem with metros coming up with an economic plan different than the state’s, according to Fischer. Sarah Moyer, Louisville’s chief health strategist, took issue with Indiana’s plan to allow in-person gatherings of up to 25 people soon.

“Quite frankly, that really scares me,” she said. She encouraged Louisville residents to continue social distancing, and Fischer said residents should not travel to Indiana other than for essential trips.

Fischer also said testing would increase at Metro Corrections this week due to an increase in corrections officers contracting coronavirus. As of Wednesday, 17 had tested positive, seven were awaiting results and 31 were in self-quarantine due to potential exposure. So far, no inmates have tested positive. He said 200 employees and inmates have been tested to date, and the city plans to test another 200 symptomatic and asymptomatic inmates and staff this week. —Amina Elahi

2:16 pm.: Indiana health officials have added 51 coronavirus deaths to the state’s death toll, raising it 1,264. Most of the newly reported COVID-19 deaths occurred Monday or Tuesday, but one dated to April 20. Travel and business restrictions eased Monday across most of the state under a new order from Gov. Eric Holcomb. He has cited a stabilization in the number of coronavirus patients being treated in intensive care units for allowing gradual lifting of those restrictions. Indianapolis officials said Wednesday the city’s tougher stay-at-home order will remain in place at least through next week. — The Associated Press

8:00 a.m.: What does one “normal” day look like in Louisville amid the pandemic? We sent reporters all over on April 22 to capture one day — one unremarkable remarkable day — of our lives. Here’s what we found.

Tuesday, May 5

5:44 p.m.: Gov. Andy Beshear says that almost 400 people have tested positive for COVID-19 at Green River Correctional Complex, a state prison in Central City.
Beshear said that the state tested more than 1,000 people, including inmates, staff and others that have come into the facility, and about 40 percent of the results came back positive for the virus.

“This is a concerning situation at that facility,” Beshear said.

Kentucky reported a large jump in coronavirus cases on Tuesday — 625, the state’s highest daily total. Beshear said attributed the spike to extensive testing at Green River and a lag in reporting from the weekend.

309 of the new cases were from Green River. Two staff and two inmates are currently in the hospital, with one staff and one inmate in the ICU.

Executive Cabinet Secretary J. Michael Brown said that the state almost has a complete snapshot of who has the virus at the facility.

“Then we can really follow out this plan to try to contain it where it is,” Brown said.

The state plans to divide the prison population into different buildings based on whether people have tested for coronavirus, tested negative, come in contact with a positive case or are considered to be vulnerable. —Ryland Barton

5:05 p.m.: Louisville is approaching 1,500 confirmed COVID-19 cases, with 55 new cases announced today by Mayor Greg Fischer in a tweet. He said an additional six people had died, including a 35-year-old male. The other five victims ranged in age from 72 to over 90. Louisville has now lost 108 residents to the disease. As of today, 831 of the 1,476 people confirmed to have contracted coronavirus have recovered. —Amina Elahi

4:11 p.m.: The Jefferson County Attorney’s office is furloughing nearly half of its 99 employees funded by Louisville Metro, a spokesman said Tuesday.

There are about 325 total County Attorney employees. Louisville is facing a revenue shortfall of about $46 million for the fiscal year ending June 30 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Court services are also limited throughout the state.

“Now that we have withstood the initial wave of the pandemic and the legal needs brought on by it, I thought it was important that my office take these proactive steps,” County Attorney Mike O’Connell said, according to a press release. “We expect the court system to be overloaded once things begin to reopen, so this is my office’s chance now to do its part for Louisville Metro.”

Ten employees started their furlough period, which will go through at least May 31, yesterday. Another 37 will each take a one-week furlough before the end of the fiscal year. Overall, this affects 39 full-time and 8 part-time employees, spokesman Josh Abner said in an email.

“For the one-week furloughs, our office scheduled the furloughs so that when one assistant county attorney is out of the office a colleague will cover the work of the attorney on furlough,” he said.

The County Attorney’s office has provided certain pandemic-specific services over the past several weeks, including seeking and enforcing quarantine orders for those with COVID-19 who have tested positive and refused to voluntarily isolate. —Amina Elahi

1:30 p.m.: Indiana’s number of confirmed or probable coronavirus-related deaths has jumped to over 1,300 as state health officials have added 62 fatalities to that toll. Most of the newly confirmed deaths announced Tuesday happened between Friday and Monday, but others date back as far as March 31. The new state statistics show that at least 1,004 people died during April with COVID-19 infections an average of nearly 33.5 people a day. A new order from Gov. Eric Holcomb that took effect Monday eased many business and travel restrictions for most of Indiana. —Associated Press

Monday, May 4

5:31 p.m.: Easing up on citywide anti-coronavirus measures too soon could lead to hundreds more deaths and hospitalizations, according to a new study from the University of Louisville and the city’s public health department released Monday.

To safely reopen Louisville this summer, the city will need to maintain current social distancing measures and add new rules related to testing, isolating and contact tracing. If restrictions loosen up too quickly, an additional 900 people could die and another 2,000 could be hospitalized, the study’s authors projected. Here’s more.

1:30 p.m.: Indiana health officials have added 19 confirmed coronavirus-related fatalities to the state’s death toll as a new order from the governor eased many of the business restrictions. Updated statistics released Monday also added 120 deaths among nursing home residents to the previous statewide total released a week earlier. The new tallies show 420 COVID-19 nursing home resident deaths, or about 36% of the 1,151 total statewide deaths. State officials have refused to identify nursing homes with outbreaks, despite complaints from relatives about a lack of communication about illnesses and deaths. —Associated Press

10:30 a.m.: In mid-April, the Centers for Disease Control began including probable and presumed positive cases in their coronavirus death toll numbers.

But it wasn’t until nearly two weeks later, on April 27, that Kentucky started reporting probable cases in its death toll. The 213 deaths reported in the first seven weeks of Kentucky’s pandemic only include people who were tested and confirmed to have coronavirus.

Which means the accuracy of the state’s death toll is only as good as its testing.

Fewer than 1.3% of Kentuckians have been tested, and despite recent efforts to expand free testing statewide, Kentucky remains among the bottom 10 states for testing by population, according to Johns Hopkins UniversityHere’s more.

Sunday, May 3

6:13 p.m.: Kentucky now has reported 5,130 cases of COVID-19, according to Gov. Andy Beshear. The number of fatalities is 253 as of Sunday evening. Gov. Beshear resumed his 5.pm. briefings today after taking Saturday off.

Beshear said coronavirus testing will continue to expand this week, and he scolded people who have failed to show up for their appointments for a test. “You can’t be doing that,” the governor said.

Reporters asked him his response to a group of people who demonstrated against his COVID-19 policies at the state capitol on Saturday. Noting that some of the demonstrators were from out of state, Beshear said people can protest, just do it safely. Some speakers urged people not to wear masks, to which Beshear responded, “We’re in a worldwide pandemic.”

“It’s still dangerous out there,” Beshear said.

—Staff

12:27 p.m.: The latest Covid-19 report from the state of Indiana shows the state closing in on 20,000 cases. As of Sunday, Indiana is reporting 19,993 cases. The death toll stands at 1,132. —Staff

10:43 a.m.: A federal appeals court has declined to block Gov. Beshear’s and the state’s temporary ban on mass gatherings from applying to in-person religious services. The three-judge panel ruled Saturday. It cleared the way for Maryville Baptist Church to hold drive-in worship services while adhering to public health requirements. That’s an alternative Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear has encouraged throughout the coronavirus pandemic. But the panel stopped short of applying its order to in-person worship services. The ruling came after the church asked the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for an emergency order stopping Beshear’s mass gathering ban from being enforced against religious services. —Associated Press

9:18 a.m.: Regular readers of this always-updated post will note the absence of new data on COVID-19 cases in Kentucky. The state’s COVID-19 website hasn’t updated since Friday, May 1. Gov. Beshear took a day off from his daily briefings on Saturday, but is scheduled to return today. We’ll have the latest numbers and other news here and live on 89.3 WFPL at 5 p.m. —Staff

Friday, May 1

6:19 p.m.: Gov. Andy Beshear says Kentuckians shouldn’t go to restaurants or attend social activities in surrounding states as other governors lift coronavirus restrictions before he does.

Tennessee allowed restaurants to open in most counties this week. Indiana plans to allow social gatherings of up to 25 people to take place starting Monday, and will allow retail businesses to open up at 50 percent capacity.

“I would ask that if things in other states are open that aren’t open in Kentucky, that we not travel to them,” Beshear said. “We want to do this right. It’s a matter and a difference of life and death.”

Beshear said he is still coordinating Kentucky’s coronavirus response with a group of Midwestern states, but individual states are setting their own reopening plans.

Beshear also said hundreds of people who signed up for drive-thru testing in Kentucky this week didn’t show up for their appointments. There were at least 400 no-shows at Kroger testing sites in Louisville, Lexington, Bowling Green and Owensboro this week.

The governor said there were still more than 5,100 people tested at the locations, and Kentucky needs to use as much of its testing capacity as possible.

Beshear announced 177 new coronavirus cases on Friday, bringing the state’s total to 4,879.

–Ryland Barton

12:00 p.m.: It would be Oaks Day, except for the fact that the pandemic has pushed Louisville’s most festive time of year back to September. Instead, the airports are empty and horses and their trainers won’t be in the Churchill Downs stables for another week. Meanwhile, like many other fabric workers, some milliners have switched from making fancy Derby hats to masks.

Thursday, April 30

5:53 p.m.: Kentucky is facing a massive budget shortfall as the coronavirus pandemic has diminished the amount of tax revenue the state brings in.

Kentucky Budget Director John Hicks announced on Thursday that state tax revenues will likely be between $318.7 million and $495.7 million lower than initially predicted. That’s a 3.8% to 4.7% drop. Hicks also said tax revenue is expected to fall between 10.5% and 17.2% in the first two quarters of the next fiscal year, which begins July 1.

During his daily briefing Thursday, Gov. Andy Beshear said he talked to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and asked him to push for Congress to pass a bill that sends money to help prop up state budgets.

“This is a real threat. Not just to where we are right now, but it’s a real threat to helping us rebuild,” Beshear said. “Without federal assistance, our recession will be longer, our unemployment will be greater.”

Kentucky state government received about $1.6 billion in the coronavirus relief package that passed out of Congress in March, but those funds are dedicated for coronavirus response. Congressional leaders have been debating a new relief package over recent weeks.

McConnell has expressed skepticism about sending more money to states, criticizing requests as “blue state bailouts.” He has suggested allowing financially struggling states to file for bankruptcy — a process that is not currently allowed — or tying funding to a provision that would provide businesses and employees legal immunity to coronavirus-related claims.

Beshear said he appreciated McConnell hearing him out.

“Now I hope he’ll be able to act in this next CARES Act to make sure this type of relief that’s needed is provided,” Beshear said. — Ryland Barton

4:27 p.m.: Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear’s schedule to restart the economy appears to contradict his administration’s own benchmarks for when it is safe to reopen.

Just ten days ago, Beshear said it would not be enough to flatten the curve before reopening. Following guidance from the White House, Beshear said Kentucky would need to see 14 days of declining cases before making any announcements.

“If we are there, that’s great, but remember what the White House has said and what we know is we actually need two weeks of going down,” he said.

But on Wednesday, Beshear announced a phased reopening of the Commonwealth while acknowledging confirmed cases of coronavirus have “plateaued,” but not yet declined. Here’s more.

12:39 p.m.: Indiana health officials have added 43 confirmed coronavirus-related fatalities to the state’s death toll as the governor nears an announcement on changes to the statewide stay-at-home order. The state has recorded 1,007 confirmed COVID-19 deaths through Thursday since the outbreak hit Indiana in early March. Six more presumed COVID-19 deaths added to the state statistics give Indiana 107 such fatalities. Gov. Eric Holcomb has said he would announce changes Friday to the statewide stay-at-home order that has been in effect since March 25. — Associated Press

12:00 p.m.: New unemployment insurance claims in the Ohio Valley began to taper off this week as states make their way through the backlog of applications amid business closures forced by the coronavirus pandemic. But local economies still face a staggering number of unemployed, and many of those who are out of work are still awaiting help.

About 211,000 people in Kentucky, Ohio, and West Virginia joined those seeking help during the economic downturn caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Here’s more.

Wednesday, April 29

5:48 p.m.: Gov. Andy Beshear has unveiled a plan to ease restrictions on several industries and activities as Kentucky begins to reopen during the coronavirus pandemic.

Starting May 11, Beshear said manufacturing, construction, car dealerships, professional services and pet grooming and boarding will be able to reopen as long as they follow requirements to help prevent the spread of coronavirus.

Beshear also said horse tracks will be able to hold races, but they won’t be allowed to have fans yet.

Beshear said businesses will be required to meet several safety standards, including masking employees, enforcing social distancing rules and sanitizing work areas.

Starting May 20, retail stores and houses of worship will be able to reopen to in-person traffic, though Beshear said the final rules—to be unveiled later—will likely only allow a limited percentage of patrons to be in the building at a time.

Beshear said on May 25, social gatherings of fewer than 10 people will be allowed, and barbers, salons, cosmetologists will be allowed to reopen.

5:25 p.m.: Mayor Greg Fischer said there were 37 new confirmed cases of coronavirus in Louisville as of Wednesday, bringing the city’s total up to 1,226. Almost half of them, 606, have recovered. But Fischer also said five additional people had died from causes related to COVID-19. Louisville’s death toll tied to the disease now stands at 89. The mayor said African Americans continue to make up a larger portion of cases and deaths than they represent in the population. — Amina Elahi

“Deaths in our African American community are running 30 to 32% of total deaths versus 22 to 23% of our overall population,” he said.

11:30 a.m.: University of Louisville Health is asking for plasma donations from patients who have recovered from COVID-19. Plasma from recovered patients may contain antibodies that could help provide others fight off the virus.

“It’s not a cure, but there is a tremendous amount of hope that convalescent plasma can assist more patients to beat COVID-19,” said Jason Smith, chief medical officer at U of L Health.

Kentucky Blood Center is holding a special plasma drive to help with the effort on Thursday and Friday at 5406 Antle Dr., Louisville, KY 40229.

“To donate, a donor must have a positive lab test indicating the disease was present and complete resolution of the symptoms for a minimum of 28 days, OR a positive test as described and no symptoms for at least 14 days PLUS a negative lab test confirming the donor is no longer infected,” according to a press release. — Ryan Van Velzer

10:40 a.m.: The Louisville Urban League will host a one-day free coronavirus testing event on Thursday, April 30 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. The drive thru tests will take place at the league’s offices, 1535 W. Broadway, for its clients, partners and residents of west Louisville. The nonprofit expects to test about 500 people at the event, its chief engagement officer Lydon Pryor said in an email. Norton Healthcare is partnering with the league to perform the nasal swab tests, which should return results within two and four days. The tests are meant to tell if the person had the coronavirus at the time of testing. Register online to be tested by clicking here. — Amina Elahi

Tuesday, April 28

5:26 p.m.: Gov. Andy Beshear apologized for erroneously saying that an unemployment claim filed by a Kentuckian named Tupac Shakur was fraudulent.

Beshear said on Monday that there are “bad apples” who have filed for unemployment benefits during the coronavirus pandemic using fake names, highlighting a claim filed by Tupac Shakur — the same name as the famous rapper who was assassinated in 1996.

The Lexington Herald-Leader reported Tuesday that a man named Tupac Malik Shakur, who goes by Malik, is in fact very real and worked as a cook in local restaurants until they were shut down due to the pandemic.

Beshear said he apologized to Shakur over the phone on Tuesday.

“I owned it, it’s my fault, he was gracious,” Beshear said.

Kentucky has experienced a record number of unemployment claims since restrictions were imposed to try and stymie the spread of coronavirus.

Beshear said that the state is working to address a backlog of claims and that there are still 37,000 people who filed in March waiting to get benefits. — Ryland Barton

5:17 p.m.: Louisville has 70 new confirmed coronavirus cases, for a total of 1,189 to date. Almost half of those have recovered, according to a press release from Mayor Greg Fischer’s office. The city’s official death toll related to COVID-19 is 84, including one new reported death today.

4:23 p.m.:  Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron is threatening a lawsuit against the state challenging the constitutionality of an order barring all mass gatherings, including in-person church services. Standing at a podium on the steps of the state capitol, Cameron asked Gov. Andy Beshear to rescind the order as it applies to in-person church services.

“The governor should allow churches to resume in-person services consistent with the Constitution and CDC guidelines,” Cameron said. “And if he doesn’t, then we will be forced to file a lawsuit and allow a judge to determine if his order, as it pertains to religious groups, is constitutional.”

On March 6, Beshear signed an executive order prohibiting all mass gatherings including community, sporting and faith-based events.

https://governor.ky.gov/attachments/20200319_Order_Mass-Gatherings.pdf

Cameron said in-person church services are protected by the First Amendment. He said it’s “inherently wrong” that big box, grocery and liquor stores remain open while churches are closed. — Ryan Van Velzer

2:10 p.m.: State health officials say Indiana’s death toll from confirmed coronavirus cases has topped 900, with nearly 100 other people having died with presumed infections. The Indiana State Department of Health on Tuesday reported 57 additional deaths, boosting the state’s confirmed COVID-19 death toll to 901 since the first fatality was recorded seven weeks ago. Indiana’s confirmed COVID-19 death toll has more than doubled since the 437 recorded as of April 12 while Gov. Eric Holcomb has continued discussing steps toward easing business restrictions imposed under the statewide stay-at-home order. — Associated Press

11:30 a.m.: As members of Congress push for allowing payday lenders to access federal loans, data show that their business in Kentucky dropped precipitously when the pandemic struck.

The industry processed about 20% fewer loans in March than it did the previous March, according to a monthly report provided to the Kentucky Department of Financial Institutions by the loan processing firm Veritec Solutions. That represents a drop in lending of $8.3 million in the short-term, typically high-interest loans.

The industry turned to Congress for help to manage the downturn, and a group of lawmakers asked Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Small Business Administration head Jovita Carranza last week to allow short-term, high-interest lenders to access funding from the Paycheck Protection Program.

No decline in business was mentioned in the letter; Kentucky Rep. Andy Barr, a Republican from Lexington, was among those who signed it.

Read more from KyCIR’s Jared Bennett.

8:27 a.m.: Remember back in early March, when the first confirmed cases of coronavirus were detected in first Harrison County, then Fayette County and Louisville? That first Louisville case was Donn Adams, who had just returned from traveling to Mexico. Now recovered, he shares his story about the ordeal.

Monday, April 27

6:38 p.m.: Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear announced that the state would start to “bring some groups and industries back online” beginning May 11.

“We’re going to need every industry and every group to stay patient with us,” he said during his Monday briefing, stressing that it will be a gradual lifting of restrictions. “Work can’t be the same when we go back.”

The governor said they’ll ask everyone to wear cloth masks outside of their homes, and that businesses will need to do regular temperature screenings, continue teleworking when possible and to keep a safe distance between employees.

“It’s going to look strange,” he said.

Beshear reported 87 new cases and one new probable case of coronavirus, bringing the state total to 4,146 with a total of 48,799 people tested in Kentucky. He also reported five new deaths.

5:11 p.m.: There were 27 additional confirmed cases of coronavirus in Louisville today, bringing the city’s total to 1,119, Mayor Greg Fischer said. Nearly half of those have recovered. One additional person died related to COVID-19, which puts Louisville’s death toll at 83.

Fischer said Louisville is not expected to have a major spike in cases, unless something “odd” happens. He described the city as being in a “rolling plateau.”

Today, Gov. Andy Beshear cleared some non-urgent, not-emergent health providers to resume practicing, including optometrists and dentists, who must use advanced protection. Beshear said yesterday that providers that cannot follow the state’s safety rules cannot open.

Fischer said Louisville preparing for what he calls “phase two” of the outbreak, which is the gradual reopening of businesses.”That’s going to begin in earnest once our health experts and the data make it clear that it’s safe to gradually ease the social distancing restriction,” he said. — Amina Elahi

5:05 p.m.: The Kentucky Department for Public Health has confirmed 220 employees at meatpacking plants across Kentucky have tested positive for the coronavirus, with one employee death related to the virus in Louisville. Here’s more.

10:28 a.m.: Museums are “complicated machines.”

“They exist not just to welcome the public and to share the art, but to secure the art, to keep it safe in perpetuity,” said Speed Art Museum director Stephen Reily, describing the physical aspect of museums.

The museum has been essentially on “lockdown” since it closed to the public in mid-March. But just because the lights are dimmed, that doesn’t mean that there’s nothing happening inside. Here’s more.

Sunday, April 26

6:30 p.m.: Gov. Andy Beshear reported three new deaths and 202 new cases in Kentucky as of Sunday, bringing the state’s total to 4,074 out of nearly 48,500 tested. Altogether, 208 Kentuckians have died related to COVID-19. To date, about 1,500 people have recovered, he said. See more from the governor’s Sunday briefing.

4:15 p.m.: There are now 1,092 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Louisville, Mayor Greg Fischer tweeted Sunday afternoon.

That marks an increase of 22 cases since Saturday.

With one additional death related to COVID-19, the total of Louisville residents lost related to the virus is now 82. Fischer said 519 people had recovered, a rate of about 48%.

In his tweet, the mayor encouraged people to continue staying home, and to wear masks and practice social distancing if they go out. — Amina Elahi

10 a.m.: LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) — Doctors at the University of Kentucky Chandler Hospital’s emergency department say they believe sick people are avoiding the hospital for fear of catching COVID-19.

The daily arrivals at the emergency department have fallen by more than half to about 130 on average since early March. Doctors held a news conference Friday. The ER has performed 1,800 tests for the coronavirus so far with only about 80 positive results.

Dr. Daniel Moore says the risk to patients of contracting COVID-19 at the hospital is exceedingly low right now.

Saturday, April 25

5:45 p.m.: Gov. Andy Beshear says that Kentuckians who still haven’t received unemployment benefits but applied in March can expect to hear back from the state next week.

Kentucky has received a record number of applications — more than 500,000 filed since the pandemic began.

Beshear said the state is working to upgrade its computer system to be able to process more requests and expects “significant progress” next week.

“This is a tough time for everybody. The number of claims has been greater than ever in our history. If you signed up in March and you haven’t been helped, that is absolutely unacceptable,” Beshear said.

The state has hired more than 1,000 people to staff the unemployment call center.

Beshear announced 171 new coronavirus cases in Kentucky on Saturday, for a total of 3,905. There were 5 new deaths, for a total 205. — Ryland Barton

11:26 a.m.: Up until recently, coronavirus testing has not been widespread; the way most people have found out they’ve had COVID-19 was from going to the doctor or a hospital. Now, experts agree widespread testing will help get the virus under control. People who believe they may have COVID-19 can still get a test by seeking medical care, but there are a number of other options — both for people with and without symptoms. Here’s a list of current testing sites; we’ll update as more information becomes available.

9:45 a.m.: Here are the current curves, as of this morning, for number of cases confirmed and tests in Kentucky and Indiana:

Here’s a closer look at positive tests:

Here’s the current death count:

Friday, April 24

6:35 p.m.: Gov. Andy Beshear announced 322 new cases of coronavirus in Kentucky, the largest daily increase so far. Beshear said the increase is partly due to the state’s efforts to expand testing and that he still believes Kentucky is in the “plateau” of the pandemic.
There are now 3,779 confirmed coronavirus cases in Kentucky. Beshear reported nine new deaths associated with the illness, for a total of 200.

Beshear said that the uptick in cases shows that Kentuckians need to keep practicing social distancing guidelines.

“We’ve got to stay at it, we’ve got to stay strong,” Beshear said. “This is a reminder, or even a wakeup, of what we’re dealing with.”

Nursing homes have been hit especially hard by the pandemic, with 578 residents and 268 staff testing positive for coronavirus. There have been 91 coronavirus deaths in Kentucky long-term facilities.

Beshear also announced that an additional 352 state prisoners convicted of non-violent, non-sexual crimes near the end of their sentences have been released from state custody. He said all of the prisoners had five years or fewer remaining on their punishments and that 339 of them were state inmates serving out their punishments in local jails. — Ryland Barton

4:26 p.m.: Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb has signed an executive order allowing elective and non-urgent surgical and invasive procedures to resume in the state as of 11:59 p.m. on Sunday. On Wednesday, Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear made a similar announcement in Kentucky.

3:04 p.m.: Festival producer Danny Wimmer Presents has canceled the three music festivals that were planned for Louisville in September: Hometown Rising, Louder Than Life and Bourbon & Beyond.

In a press release, the company said it would try to bring as much of the 2020 lineups as possible back in 2021.

“We are truly heartbroken it has come to this,” the press release said. “We want to thank you for your patience, support and loyalty. We hope you are staying safe as well as physically and mentally well. We are blessed to have such an amazing Festival Family, and together, as a community, we will get through this.”

The company is offering full refunds to ticket holders.

12:00 p.m.: Kentucky is expanding absentee voting during the coronavirus pandemic, allowing every voter to cast a ballot by mail or vote early during the state primary elections on June 23.
Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear and Republican Secretary of State Michael Adams announced the changes on Friday.

In a statement, Beshear said that the State Board of Elections is working on a plan to also conduct limited in-person voting with the possibility of a drive-through option.

“While there will be significant education and work required, we are committed to making sure this election will be held in a safe manner, while we are in this worldwide health pandemic,” Beshear said. Here’s more.

8:19 a.m.: Join our coronavirus Facebook group to discuss the COVID-19 outbreak with other people in your community. We also stream Gov. Andy Beshear’s daily briefings, and you can directly ask reporters and editors questions about coronavirus. — Ashlee Clark Thompson

Thursday, April 23

6:24 p.m.: Gov. Andy Beshear during Thursday’s daily update mentioned news reports that say Kentucky is among the top states with the most new jobless claims. Data collected by Smartasset.com found that nearly 400,000 Kentuckians — 19% of the state’s workforce — signed up for unemployment insurance between March 15 and April 11. The website ranked Kentucky 6th in the country for the most jobless claims.

Beshear said that’s a sign the state is effectively signing people up for unemployment insurance.

“What we are doing is we are signing more people up per day than other states are, even with the claims and applications they have,” Beshear said.

He also said that doesn’t mean the state will stop working to provide unemployment to those who still have trouble with the system.

“We are still suffering from a legacy system that is designed to tell people no,” he said.

Beshear announced 161 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the state’s total to 3,481. Six more Kentuckians have died from the illness for a total of 191 deaths related to coronavirus. — Ryan Van Velzer

6:12 p.m.: Louisville has crossed 1,000 confirmed coronavirus cases, Mayor Greg Fischer tweeted Thursday evening. He said there have been 74 new cases since yesterday. In total, 474 of the total 1,005 Louisville residents with COVID-19 have recovered. Fischer said there was one additional fatality, bringing the city’s total to 78. — Amina Elahi

1:00 p.m.: Indiana’s coronavirus death toll has topped 700 people in about five weeks with 45 additional fatalities announced by state health officials. More than half of the newly recorded COVID-19 deaths reported Thursday occurred Tuesday or Wednesday, but they dated as far back as April 6. Indiana’s death count of 706 could jump by several dozen on Friday as state officials plan to start including deaths that doctors blame on COVID-19 without test confirmations. Meanwhile, Indiana had about 75,000 new jobless claims filed last week. About 515,000 people in Indiana have now sought unemployment benefits since mid-March. — Associated Press

10:14 a.m.:  More than 4,000 people in Kentucky could die over the course of the coronavirus pandemic if social distancing and other mitigation tools were abandoned, according to a “best guess” model created by federal health officials in early April.

The virus has so far claimed 185 Kentuckians, and the state is on track for far fewer deaths than scenarios outlined in the federal models. Here’s more.

8:38 a.m.: As many of us have transitioned into working from home, that’s also true for the people running to unseat Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in November. Here’s what campaigning in the age of coronavirus looks like for Democrats Amy McGrath, Charles Booker and Mike Broihier.

Wednesday, April 22

5:44 p.m.: Gov. Andy Beshear announced some hospital and health care services that have been shut down during the coronavirus pandemic will reopen on Monday as part of the state’s gradual reopening.

Diagnostic radiology, in-person doctor visits and pre-anesthesia testing appointments will be allowed starting Monday. Beshear said there would be a broader reopening of health care providers in the coming weeks. He said health care will look different going forward and that people will have to pay special attention to social distancing guidelines.

“The new waiting room is your car,” Beshear said.

Beshear also announced new drive-thru coronavirus testing sites that will open next week in Louisville, Lexington, Owensboro and Bowling Green. Tests will be available to anyone who wants them, Beshear said. Previously the drive-thru tests were only available to health care workers, first responders, people over age 65 or those with pre-existing health conditions.

Beshear said the sites in Louisville and Lexington will be located in predominantly African American neighborhoods — Louisville’s will be set up in Shawnee Park and Lexington’s will be at the Bluegrass Community and Technical College campus on Newtown Pike. Beshear said each of the sites will try to conduct 1,500 tests per week for the next two weeks.

The governor announced 196 new cases of coronavirus in Kentucky, bringing the state’s total to 3,373. Beshear announced 14 new deaths related to the illness. A total of 185 Kentuckians have died from COVID-19. — Ryland Barton

5:13 p.m.: There are now 931 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Louisville, an increase of 24 since Tuesday, Mayor Greg Fischer said. Of them, 447, or almost half, have recovered. But another six Louisville residents have died related to the virus, bringing the city’s total to 77.

“I wish it wasn’t this way, but there are going to be more deaths from COVID-19,” Fischer said. “The way we can honor these victims and keep us all safe is continue practicing our social distancing.”

The need for social distancing will continue to affect events and recreation in Louisville for some time. Fischer said the annual Festival of Faiths would be held virtually this year, for example. Also, amenities such as public pools may not be able to reopen next month since people would gather there, and since the virus could live on surfaces outside of pools or possibly persist in water that isn’t sufficiently chlorinated, said Dr. Sarah Moyer, Louisville’s chief health strategist.

Moyer said that Louisville’s testing capacity is, like the state’s, is below what is needed to reopen the city.

“Right now we have enough testing to be able to be testing the people that are sick and in the hospital, that would change medical management,” she said. “But in order to know who’s positive, to allow people to be close together, congregating, again, we definitely have a long ways to go with testing capacity.”

Yesterday, Dr. Steven Stack, Kentucky’s public health commissioner, said the state’s testing capacity is about a quarter to a third of what is needed. — Amina Elahi

3:46 p.m.: Indiana’s coronavirus death toll has grown by 31 as state health officials say that the statewide total has reached 661 in just over five weeks. Most of the newly recorded COVID-19 deaths occurred between Friday and Tuesday, but they dated back as far as April 2. Those deaths involve COVID-19 infections confirmed by tests. The state health commissioner has said Indiana’s total number of deaths could rise significantly later this week as the official count starts including deaths that doctors blame on COVID-19 without test results. — Associated Press

11:00 a.m.: The state reports that there have been more than 521,500 unemployment claims filed in Kentucky since March 16. That unprecedented flood of applicants includes newly eligible workers, independent contractors, self-employed, freelancers, substitute teachers and others who were able to apply for benefits after Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear expanded unemployment eligibility through an executive order on March 25.

Yet, for some arts workers, like Theatre [502]’s Diana Grisanti, the application itself felt a bit like a riddle to solve. Here’s more.

Tuesday, April 21

6:10 p.m.: Four new drive-thru coronavirus testing sites opened up today in Kentucky and tested more than 700 people. As part of the rollout, 138 people were tested in Paducah, 118 in Pikeville, 226 in Madisonville and 201 in Somerset. By Thursday, the state hopes to test 1,000 people at each location. Kentucky already has drive-thru sites set up in Kroger parking lots in Frankfort and Kenton County.

Gov. Andy Beshear announced 17 new deaths due to coronavirus, the highest daily increase to date. There have been 171 deaths total. Beshear said 13 of the new deaths were nursing home residents and that 42 percent of the state’s coronavirus deaths have been in nursing homes. But he said Kentucky’s new coronavirus cases are leveling off. There were 177 new coronavirus cases for a total of 3,192. — Ryland Barton

4:48 p.m.: Louisville has had a total of 907 confirmed coronavirus cases as of Tuesday, which reflects eight new cases, according to a press release from Mayor Greg Fischer’s office. Another 3 people have died related to COVID-19 for a total of 71. Nearly half of the Louisville residents confirmed to have contracted the virus have recovered, the release said.— Amina Elahi

2:00 p.m.: State health officials say 61 more Indiana residents have died from COVID-19, pushing the state’s pandemic death toll to 630 as statewide coronavirus cases surpassed 12,000. The Indiana State Department of Health says the 61 new deaths it reported Tuesday occurred between April 7 and Monday. The state agency says another 431 Indiana residents have been diagnosed with COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the virus, bringing Indiana’s total to 12,097, following corrections to the previous day’s total. A total of 67,264 tests have now been reported to the state health department, with the addition of another 2,641 tests reported Tuesday. — Associated Press

1:07 p.m.: Jefferson County Public Schools’ (JCPS) last official day of school will be May 27, pending approval by the Jefferson County Board of Education. In a call with reporters Tuesday morning, JCPS superintendent Marty Pollio said the district will follow Gov. Andy Beshear’s recommendation to keep schools closed to in-person classes for the rest of the school year, and continue to use non-traditional instruction, or NTI, to meet the 1,062 instructional hours required each year by state law. Until today, JCPS’s last day was scheduled for June 3. But policy changes at the Kentucky Department of Education will allow the district to meet their 1,062 hours a week earlier, through NTI. The Jefferson County Board of Education is meeting Tuesday night to consider the calendar change. — Jess Clark

12:28 p.m.: Kentucky’s unemployment claim system is temporarily unavailable online or by phone, according to the Kentucky Career Center. The agency said it’s experiencing “a state- wide network issue that is disrupting Unemployment Insurance phone and online platforms.”

The most recent state data shows nearly 522,000 Kentuckians had filed unemployment insurance claims since Kentucky declared a state of emergency. The unprecedented demand has stressed the state’s antiquated system.

The state has asked people to file on certain days of the week based on their last initial; Tuesday is for those with last names that start with I-L. — Kate Howard

11:51 a.m.: When the first of the month came, Katrice Gill couldn’t make rent.

The part-time, in-home health aide and single mother usually has no trouble paying the $200 monthly contribution to her Section 8 subsidized rent, plus utilities. But with schools closed, she’s home with her four young kids, and the grocery bill has ballooned.

Gill, 32, said she tried to call her landlord, but didn’t get a call back. Then, on April 7, the landlord sent an email with the subject line in all caps: PAST DUE NOTICE.

With the message came an added charge: she was assessed a late fee of $91, nearly 45 percent of what she usually pays in rent.

“I’m just really stressed out,” she said. “It’s unbearable. You just don’t know what’s going to come next.”

Gill does know she can’t be evicted right now. Gov. Andy Beshear last month ordered an eviction moratorium during the COVID-19 pandemic, and court officials have suspended all eviction court proceedings until later this summer. But those orders don’t prevent late fees from piling up. What’s resulted is a new paradigm in the relationship between landlords and tenants: landlords have lost their tried and true enforcement mechanisms as many tenants can’t pay. Here’s more.

Monday, April 20

5:42 p.m.: Gov. Andy Beshear announced that Kentucky has surpassed 3,000 confirmed coronavirus cases, but that the state is still likely in the “plateau” of the pandemic.

Beshear announced 102 new cases of coronavirus on Monday, bringing the state’s total to 3,050. He also announced six new deaths, for a total of 154. Beshear said that it would be great news if Kentucky’s curve has flattened, but the state still hasn’t shown the decline of cases required to ease business closures and other restrictions.

“If we are there that’s great. But remember what the White House has said and what we know, we need two weeks of going down,” Beshear said.

Beshear also announced that he has recommended schools continue remote instruction and not reopen to in-person classes this school year. He said the news will be especially hard on seniors looking forward to graduation and prom.

“It’s not fair, if you’re watching, it’s not,” Beshear said. “A worldwide pandemic has hit us. Those of us missing out on these opportunities, we need your help, we need your sacrifice. This shouldn’t have to be asked of you, but it is.” Ryland Barton

5:00 p.m.: There are now 899 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Louisville, Mayor Greg Fischer said. With two new deaths since Sunday, a total of 68 Louisville residents have now lost their lives after contracting the coronavirus. Fischer said 395 Louisville residents have recovered. He acknowledged that the daily reporting of new cases has varied wildly recently. On Friday, he reported 768 cases. On Sunday, 890. And today, just 9 more. He said that does not reflect the spread of the virus, but rather is a result of labs’ test processing and reporting capacity. — Amina Elahi

3:26 p.m.: Kentucky students will not be returning to the classroom this school year. On a call with Kentucky school superintendents today, Governor Andy Beshear recommended keeping schools closed the rest of the school year. Many had expected the governor to make the call, as cases of coronavirus continue to rise across the state. But that doesn’t mean school is out. According to a Kentucky Department of Education spokeswoman, the governor is recommending districts continue non-traditional instruction, or NTI, to reach the yearly 1,062 instructional hours required by state law. Beshear joins the governors of Ohio, Indiana and other states in ending in-person classes for the remainder of the school year. The governor is expected to make a formal announcement during his briefing tonight. Jess Clark

3:00 p.m.: Of the nearly 300 people tested for coronavirus during a free west Louisville testing event on Saturday, six have tested positive for COVID-19, according to an organizer. DeVone Holt, Goodwill’s vice president of external affairs, said that, though it’s a relatively small pool, it shows that the people who came to the HOPE Wellness Center drive-through event are doing a great job of protecting themselves.

“Most of the ones who tested positive were individuals who were still working, or not able to fully quarantine because they were out working in the community,” Holt said.

Of those who arrived early to wait in line for a test, Holt said they were mainly senior citizens who had been carefully quarantining and otherwise might not have been able to obtain testing. The testing, led by the Black Community Development Corporation and Goodwill, was held in west Louisville and intended for those residents, who are mostly Black and disproportionately more likely to be impacted by coronavirus. Holt said many in the line for testing were not from west Louisville, indicating the demand for testing for people without symptoms was high.

Another testing event is planned for next Saturday; the group still has about 1,700 tests, donated through Frank and Teresa Bridgewaters. Holt said the Bridgewaters, who founded The Mardrian Group construction firm, had a relationship with a test manufacturer and put in a request for tests early in the pandemic to facilitate testing in west Louisville. Holt said the organizers have heard from organizations across the state who want to host similar testing events, and they’re evaluating whether they can assist other efforts. Kate Howard

1:00 p.m.: State health officials say tests have confirmed that another 505 Indiana residents are infected with the coronavirus, bringing the state’s total number of cases to nearly 11,700. Seven new COVID-19 deaths occurred between Wednesday and Sunday, boosting the statewide death toll to 569 in little more than five weeks since Indiana’s first known death. About 89% of Indiana’s deaths have been among people ages 60 and older, but the state health department website shows at least one person in their 20s has died. Gov. Eric Holcomb announced Friday he would be extending the statewide stay-at-home order until May 1 . — The Associated Press

Here are the current curves, as of this morning, for number of cases confirmed and tests in Kentucky and Indiana:

Here’s a closer look at positive tests:

Here’s the current death count:

 

Sunday, April 19

6:16 p.m.: Kentucky’s increase of 273 new COVID-19 cases is the biggest one day increase during the pandemic, Gov. Andy Beshear said during his Sunday evening briefing. The total number of positive tests is now at 2,960. Four more people have died making the death toll for the state 148.

According to the governor there have been 32,319 tests administered, a number that he expects to increase next week when four new testing sites open up around the state. The governor also addressed the cases of COVID-19 in long term care facilities. He reported that 33 more residents have tested positive for the virus, along with eight staff members. There have been four additional deaths. According to Dr. Steven Stack, Commissioner of Public Health, there have been cases reported at 46 long term care facilities.

Beshear and Dr. Stack both addressed the notion of the ‘new normal’ and what life in Kentucky will be like once restrictions on businesses and gatherings are loosened. Increased hand washing and mask wearing are going to be part of that new normal, according to Dr. Stack. Coronavirus will not go away, but “it will not be a surprise next time.”

But things are going to look different in the future, Stack said. —Staff

12:10 p.m.: Indiana’s death toll from COVID 19 continues to climb. According to the latest figures released Sunday, 562 people in Indiana have died from the virus. That’s a one-day increase of 17 fatalities. The overall number of confirmed cases in Indiana has risen to 11,210.

9:17 a.m.: A Kentucky church that held in-person services on Easter in defiance of the state’s coronavirus restrictions on gatherings has sued the governor to block enforcement against houses of worship. Maryville Baptist Church and its pastor, Jack Roberts, filed the federal lawsuit Friday in Louisville, claiming that Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear’s administration is infringing on the congregation’s constitutional rights. In a separate federal lawsuit, three attendees of the church have likewise asked a federal judge to declare Beshear’s order relating to churches to be unconstitutional. Beshear has said his mass gathering orders do not single out churches. — The Associated Press

UPDATE:  The Courier Journal reports this morning that a federal judge has refused the Maryville Baptist Church’s request to block Gov. Beshear’s order barring mass gatherings.

Saturday, April 18

6:16 p.m.: Gov. Andy Beshear announced 206 new cases of coronavirus and seven additional deaths on Saturday, the second highest one-day increase so far. Beshear said the three-day average indicates that the state is still in a plateau, but he reiterated once more that social distancing and hygiene efforts will continue to flatten the curve.

The state also provided additional details on its Long Term Care Task Force, made up of experts who will advise Kentucky nursing homes and residential facilities on how to prevent and slow the spread of coronavirus. There are 40 more residents and 6 more staff infected, and 3 more deaths in these facilities as of Saturday.

The task force is planning to release some recommendations on Monday or Tuesday, according to Cabinet for Health and Family Services Acting Secretary Eric Friedlander. They are working with Norton Healthcare to create a 24/7 hotline staffed by medical professionals to advise these facilities if they think they may have a case of coronavirus.

Friday, April 17

6:34 p.m.: Gov. Andy Beshear announced criteria Kentucky will be looking at when deciding when to ease coronavirus restrictions.

The benchmarks fall in line with what the federal government has recommended—states need to show a consistent decline of new cases, increased testing capacity and wider availability of personal protective equipment.

The seven benchmarks are:
-Decrease in the number and rate of new cases
-Increased testing capacity
-Increased availability of personal protective equipment
-Ability to protect at-risk populations
-Ability to socially distance
-Preparedness for a future spike
-Status of a vaccine

On Thursday, the federal government recommended that states wait to ease restrictions once they show a downward trajectory of coronavirus cases for 14 days. States also need enough testing kits and capacity to test all people with symptoms, and those they’ve come in contact with.

Beshear announced 134 new coronavirus cases on Thursday for a total of 2,522. There were also 8 new deaths reported for a total of 137.

Beshear also announced that a 49 year-old state prisoner at Green River Correctional Complex died due to coronavirus.

5:13 p.m.: Starting May 3, Louisville Metro will put about 280 employees on unpaid leave indefinitely, Mayor Greg Fischer announced Friday.

He said the furloughs will apply mainly to those who cannot telework, including library staff and school crossing guards. Some workers have been reassigned, such as parks and recreation workers who have been shifted from community centers to maintaining parks and mowing vacant lots.

Fischer also announced an increase of 47 in confirmed coronavirus cases, for a total of 768 since early March. One of those is a Louisville Metro Police officer. That department has so far had three other confirmed cases.

The COVID-19 death toll in Louisville has reached 61, with the addition of four deaths since Thursday, Fischer said.

He said 310 Louisville residents with COVID-19 have recovered. Here’s more.

12:53 p.m.: State health officials say Indiana’s death toll from the coronavirus pandemic has topped 500 and its confirmed cases of COVID-19 has swept past 10,000. The Indiana State Department of Health reported Friday that 42 new deaths from COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the virus, had raised the state’s death toll to 519. The state agency says 30 of those 42 new deaths had occurred Wednesday and Thursday. Indiana also reported another 642 confirmed coronavirus cases, boosting its total cases to 10,154, following corrections to the previous day’s total. The state says that as of Thursday, 54,785 Indiana residents had been tested for the coronavirus. — The Associated Press

12:48 p.m.: Public transit riders in Louisville will have to wear face coverings and exit through the back door of buses starting April 26, TARC announced Friday. The changes came after a bus driver tested positive for COVID-19 earlier this month. Rear-door exits could cut rider-driver interactions in half, according to a TARC press release.

There are exceptions to the new rules. Those with mobility issues may use whichever exit is better for them, and children under two or those with breathing difficulties will not be required to cover their noses and mouths. The CDC currently recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where social distancing may not be possible.

TARC has already limited routes and asked riders to only use buses for essential trips, such as grocery shopping or traveling to essential work, as defined by the governor.

“These additional requirements improve the level of safety for our riders and drivers, and support the best practices for COVID-19 prevention for our entire community,” said Laura Douglas, interim co-executive director of TARC. — Amina Elahi

12:30 p.m.: Leaders of several Louisville-based corporations are on President Donald Trump’s “Great American Economic Revival Industry Groups,” which the president has also referred to as an “Opening Our Country Council.” The council includes leaders from various industry groups, as well as “thought leaders.” The list includes the following CEOs whose companies are either based in Louisville or have major operations here:

  • YUM! Brands – David Gibbs
    Papa Johns – Rob Lynch
    Humana – Bruce Broussard
    UPS – David Abney

According to a White House press release, these members “will work together with the White House to chart the path forward toward a future of unparalleled American prosperity.” The New York Times has reported that some members did not receive any notice that they were included in the group until the president announced their names in a press conference Tuesday, and therefore could not attend the group’s first conference call on Wednesday. —  Jess Clark

8:30 a.m.: Our communities in Kentucky and Southern Indiana are losing people we love to COVID-19. WFPL News wants to do more than document the number of people who have died from coronavirus. We want to report on who we’re losing.

We know these deaths are more than numbers. Each one marks the loss of a mother, a father, a grandparent, a sibling or a friend.

We would like to start telling the stories of the lives of people who have died during the pandemic. What did they accomplish? What obstacles did they overcome? How did they meet their spouse or partner? What did they like to cook or eat? What tune were they always humming? What was that one little piece of advice they gave that you’ll always remember?

If you have lost someone you love to COVID-19, and would like to share the story of their life with WFPL News and your public radio community, please email us at news@wfpl.org, and one of our reporters will be in touch.

Thursday, April 16

6:00 p.m.: Gov. Andy Beshear says Kentucky is expanding drive-thru testing at Kroger locations and next week will open up sites in Madisonville, Paducah, Pikeville and Somerset.
The sites will be open Tuesday through Thursday, with the goal of conducting about 1,000 tests at each location.

Beshear says coronavirus is still on an upward trajectory in Kentucky and that the state will have to expand its testing capacity before restrictions can be lifted.

“We know we have to have more testing in Kentucky, both right now as we’re dealing with our surge, but also as we look to step out of this, it’s going to take significant contact tracing and testing,” Beshear said.

Beshear said that Kentucky will be partnering with a group of states to share best practices and coordinate coronavirus response efforts, including Minnesota, Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, Michigan and Ohio.

But Beshear said that individual states will still ultimately make the call of when to ease business and crowd restrictions.

Beshear said that Lake Barkley and Lake Cumberland state resort parks will be used to quarantine people who can care for themselves, but don’t have a home to self-isolate or live with someone vulnerable to coronavirus.

Beshear announced 159 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, for a total of 2,429. One of the new cases includes a 10 day-old baby from Lincoln County. There were 7 new Kentucky coronavirus deaths on Thursday, for a total of 129. — Ryland Barton

4:29 p.m: Seven Midwestern governors announced that they will coordinate on reopening their state economies, after similar pacts were made earlier this week in the Northeast and on the West Coast. Thursday’s announcement covers Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Illinois, Indiana and Kentucky. The governors say they will work with experts and take a “fact-based, data-driven approach to reopening our economy in a way that protects families from the spread of COVID-19.” All together, the 17 states covered by the three pacts are home to nearly half of the country’s population.—The Associated Press

4:17 p.m.: There are now 721 confirmed coronavirus cases in Louisville, an increase of 34 since yesterday, Mayor Greg Fischer said. He also announced an additional two deaths, one a 78-year-old male and the other an individual in their 90s. To date, 57 people have died in Louisville related to COVID-19.

Fischer said one-third of the deaths were African Americans, while they make up only about a quarter of the city’s population. A number of interconnected factors driven by institutional racism including unequal access to health care, education and wealth contribute to African Americans faring worse at this time, Fischer said.

“While this pandemic did not cause all of that to take place, the pandemic is revealing it in its full horror,” he said. — Amina Elahi

11:31 a.m.: Nearly 400,000 Kentucky residents have filed for unemployment benefits in the past four weeks. The U.S. Labor Department on Thursday reported another round of massive layoffs in the Bluegrass State. It says 115,763 Kentuckians filed unemployment claims last week. That was down slightly from the prior week. Kentucky has dramatically increased the number of employees handling unemployment insurance claims. Meanwhile, a donation fund run by the state that offers help during the coronavirus outbreak has raised nearly $2 million. More than half has come from a contribution by the Kentucky Colonels. — The Associated Press

Plus, here’s more on the unemployment stats for the region.

10:25 a.m.: Forecastle Festival, the waterfront music festival that attracts some 65,000 attendees each year, is canceled for 2020, organizers announced. They said the festival would return in 2021. It is the latest in a slew of major events canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“While we are disappointed to share this news, the health and safety of our fans, artists, staff, and community are always our number one priority,” they wrote in a statement on their website.The three-day event was scheduled for mid-July. All tickets will be automatically refunded. This year’s headliners would have been Jack Johnson, Cage The Elephant and The 1975. — Amina Elahi

9:45 a.m.: Although the COVID-19 peak for both Indiana and the U.S. as a whole may have already happened, Kentucky’s is expected to come in 15 days, according to projections from the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation

Here’s what the confirmed cases (and testing) look like right now for Kentucky and Indiana:

Here’s a closer look at the confirmed cases;

And here’s the current count of COVID-19 deaths:

Wednesday, April 15

6:19 p.m.: During Gov. Andy Beshear’s daily briefing, dozens of protesters gathered outside the state capitol building in Frankfort to protest closures of businesses in response to the coronavirus.

At times it was difficult to hear the governor over chants and what sounded like a horn blaring outside the Capitol.

“Open up Kentucky!” and, “Let us work!” were some of the chants protesters shouted while gathered in direct defiance of Beshear’s order banning groupings of more than 10 people.
Video footage posted by the Courier Journal shows protesters standing closer than the recommended 6 feet apart.

Over the din, Beshear announced 88 new cases of coronavirus, though he said the state is moving into a new reporting system, and there are at least 50 additional cases that haven’t been added to that new system yet. The official total is now 2,291 cases of coronavirus in Kentucky.

Beshear also announced seven new deaths, bringing the state’s total to 122.
Asked to respond to protesters’ demands to “open up Kentucky,” Beshear responded:
“Folks, that would kill people. It would absolutely kill people.” — Jess Clark

4:18 p.m.: Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer says there are 67 more confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Jefferson County, bringing the county total to 687. There have now been 54 deaths related to the coronavirus in Louisville.

Fischer also released more information about where the cases are in Louisville, and the racial breakdown of current cases. In Louisville, the hotspots are in ZIP codes 40041, 40203 and 40059, and are driven by outbreaks in long-term care facilities like Masonic Homes, Treyton Oak Towers and River’s Edge.

In Louisville, as they are statewide, Black residents are disproportionately more likely to both be confirmed to have COVID-19 and to die from the virus. Considering 81% of the city’s people with confirmed cases, 61% are white, 31% are Black, 8% are Asian.

Of the 86% of Louisville’s COVID-19 deaths where race and ethnicity data was known, white people accounted for 64%, Black people 34%, Asian people 2%.

In Louisville, about 69% of the population is white. 23% is Black or African American and 2.7% is Asian.

  Confirmed COVID-19 Cases (81% of cases) COVID-19 Deaths (86% of cases) Louisville Population
White

61% 64% 70%
Black 31% 34% 24%
Asian 8% 2% 3%

Fischer says the racial disparity among COVID-19 cases and deaths is due to historical inequities that have left communities of color to typically be more densely populated, rely more on public transportation and work hourly jobs without paid sick leave. — Erica Peterson

4:05 p.m.: Treyton Oak Towers reported the death of two additional residents on Wednesday, bringing the total of COVID-19 related deaths at the Louisville facility to 11.

The residents — two women ages 92 and 88 — died after being transferred to Norton hospital last week.

A statement from Treyton Oak Towers administrator Mike Wideman says several residents who were transferred to the hospital are improving and may be discharged soon.

The facility also announced five residents who tested positive for the coronavirus have been separated from other residents on the West Wing of the skilled nursing floor. A total of 29 residents and 14 staff of Treyton Oak Towers have tested positive for the virus. — Jared Bennett

1:15 p.m.: Indiana’s death toll from the coronavirus outbreak has nearly quadrupled since the beginning of April as state health officials have reported 49 additional deaths. The new COVID-19 deaths reported Wednesday occurred between March 28 and Tuesday, increasing the state’s total to 436 deaths. Agency statistics show that 111 coronavirus deaths occurred through March 31. Tests also confirmed 440 more COVID-19 illnesses, boosting Indiana’s total number of cases to nearly 9,000. Indiana’s state health commissioner expects the coronavirus illness peak in late April for the Indianapolis area and the first weeks of May for rest of the state. — The Associated Press

9:38 a.m.: Join our coronavirus-related Facebook group to discuss the pandemic with other members of the community, share resources and ask questions to WFPL reporters and editors. Today at 1 p.m., reporter Eleanor Klibanoff will host a Facebook Live Q&A in the group to discuss the state’s crisis standards of care plan and how workplaces are reacting to COVID-19. — Ashlee Clark Thompson

8:30 a.m.: For seven months, Ronald Nelson has been serving time for drug charges in the Clark County Jail in Jeffersonville, Indiana. He’s got just four months left on his sentence. But as the COVID-19 pandemic spreads, Nelson, 38, said every day he’s locked up seems like an unnecessary risk to his well-being.

“We’re scared,” he said in a recent interview via video call. “We’re all scared to death.”

Here’s more.

Tuesday, April 14

7 p.m.: As other states discuss plans to reopen, Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear told residents on Tuesday the Commonwealth has not yet reached its peak of coronavirus cases.

The decisions of when and how to reopen the economy will be left in the hands of public health officials, Beshear said during the daily press briefing.

“Regardless of some of the other things that are being talked out there, understand that we are on the slope up,” Beshear said. “We have not reached the top and we are not on the way back down.”

Beshear reported a total of 2,210 confirmed cases as of Tuesday, including 115 deaths and 653 Kentuckians who have recovered from COVID-19. The state continues to see a disproportionately high number of fatalities among black residents, who account for about 23 percent of all coronavirus deaths where race is known.

On testing, Kroger Health completed 178 tests at its drive-thru in Frankfort on Tuesday with a goal of ramping up to at least 250 tests per day. Beshear said they plan to open a second facility in Kenton County on Wednesday. That facility will be open for four days and will conduct 1,000 tests.

Kentuckians continue to face challenges receiving unemployment as the state receives between 14,000 and 16,000 calls per day. More than 520,000 people have signed up for unemployment insurance in Kentucky since March 16.

6:40 p.m.: WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump says he has directed a halt to U.S. payments to the World Health Organization pending a review of its warnings about the coronavirus and China.

Trump says the outbreak could have been contained at its source and spared lives had the U.N. health agency done a better job investigating reports coming out of China.

The president says the world depends on the World Health Organization to work with countries to make sure accurate information about health threats are shared in a timely manner.

Trump claims the organization failed to carry out its “basic duty” and must be held accountable.

But Trump says the U.S. will continue to engage with the organization in pursuit of what he calls meaningful reforms. -Associated Press

5:01 p.m.: Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer says the city has 54 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 since yesterday, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 623. Fischer also said three more Louisvillians have died of the disease: an 84 year old man, an 89 year old woman and a 74 year old man. A total of 48 people in Louisville have now died from the disease. The mayor’s numbers do not yet reflect two new deaths announced today at Treyton Oak Towers.

Fischer said the city will start flying the American flag at half-mast over Metro buildings to recognize those lost to the virus. Governor Andy Beshear ordered flags to fly at half-mast yesterday [Monday], as the state’s death toll surpassed 100 people. — Jess Clark

3:50 p.m.: Two more residents of the skilled nursing floor at Treyton Oak Towers died on Tuesday after being transferred to Norton hospital last week, according to a press release. The deaths — an 89-year-old woman and a 93-year-old woman — bring the total of COVID-19 related deaths from the facility to nine.

Six more residents and one more staff member from the Old Louisville retirement community have also tested positive for the virus, bringing the total to 29 residents and 14 staff members. 

Treyton Oak Towers administrator Mike Wideman said those residents have been relocated to private rooms. 

“We continue to test residents who have received direct care from COVID-19 positive staff members as well as most of our staff members who have direct contact with residents,” Wideman said in the press release.

Treyton Oak Towers confirmed it was following the recommended protocols for containing the virus, including screening employees for symptoms, sanitizing public facilities and restricting visitors. The facility says it is testing anyone who exhibits COVID-19 symptoms. So far, 59 residents and 88 staff have been tested. 

A spokesperson for Treyton Oak Towers told KyCIR that the facility has implemented a universal mask policy for staff and that residents have been provided protective masks they are encouraged to wear.

Yesterday, Louisville officials confirmed a staff member of Treyton Oak Towers has been placed under court-ordered quarantine after testing positive and violating her self-quarantine. -Jared Bennett

1:30 p.m.: Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer joined other leaders from small and large cities to continue calling on the federal government for direct financial support today. While Louisville is among the cities receiving federal reimbursements for coronavirus response, officials say they need funds for regular operations. Mayor Brian Barnett of Rochester Hills, Mich., said his city of 75,000 near Detroit is a COVID-19 hotspot.

“It’s important to understand that most cities under law cannot run a budget deficit. So the options to raise revenue, as you might imagine, are pretty slim,” he said. “Which means that really the only option cities are forced to consider our cuts cuts to city services, furloughs and layoffs.”

Louisville has yet to see such reductions, though officials say to expect them as part of Fischer’s budget proposal on April 23. He said whether the city gets direct general fund relief would be the difference between thousands of people keeping their jobs or not.

Fischer is the vice president of the United States Conference of Mayors, which hosted today’s conference call along with the National League of Cities. He said any reductions would be separate from cities’ increased need to hire public health workers for virus testing and contact tracing.

“We’re about ready to see a new army of public health workers that we haven’t had in our country, so those financial obligations will be on top of the already declining revenues that we’re all being hit with,” he said.

Together, the city leadership organizations are asking the federal government to direct $250 billion of relief to all cities, not just the larger ones who qualified for coronavirus reimbursements. Yesterday, Fischer joined other mayors in signing a letter in support of an interim aid package proposed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer that would include some emergency funding for cities. — Amina Elahi

12:02 p.m.: Indiana is reporting a total of 8,527 people in the state have tested positive for COVID-19. The death toll from the virus has reached 387 people as of Tuesday at noon.

11:53 a.m.: Fund for the Arts today announced the launch of the “Culinary Arts Strategic Relief Fund,” in partnership with Ashbourne Farms and through the support of owners Austin & Janie Musselman.

According to a release, the fund includes a $20,000 grant for The LEE Initiative, which offers food and basic needs to restaurant workers and chefs, who have experienced layoffs or pay or hour reductions. A $10,000 grant will be distributed to Apron, which provides temporary financial help for those working in the Louisville Metro food and beverage industry.  

The initiative will also send a $15,000 grant to the James Beard Foundation Food and Beverage Industry Relief Fund to bolster its work in Kentucky and the region. The relief program offers financial help to independent restaurants experiencing economic hardships due to the pandemic. And $15,000 grants will go toward “strategic culinary institutions that have been pillars to the local Louisville and Kentucky communities,” the release said. You can learn about how to apply here

“The Culinary Arts Strategic Relief Fund provides timely support to this talented group of culinary artists, who not only enrich our lives and community daily with their craft, but also employ performing and visual artists within the broader Fund for the Arts family,” Fund for the Arts president and CEO Christen Boone said. — Stephanie Wolf

Monday, April 13

6:17 p.m.: Gov. Andy Beshear announced that Kentucky has surpassed 2,000 coronavirus cases, and 100 deaths associated with the disease. At least 629 people in Kentucky have recovered from the virus. Kentucky has 87 new coronavirus cases today, for a total of 2,048.

Beshear said the flag at the state capitol will fly the flag at half-mast for the next week to mark the 104 coronavirus-related deaths.

Beshear also announced that Kentucky has begun drive-thru testing through its partnership with Kroger. The first location opened today in Frankfort, and conducted 97 tests. The goal is to expand the program and ramp up to 250 tests per day.

For now, testing is still only available to health care workers, first responders, and people with coronavirus symptoms who also have underlying health conditions. –Ryland Barton

5:26 p.m.: A seventh resident of Treyton Oak Towers has died after testing positive for COVID-19, according to a statement from administrator Mike Wideman.

The 89-year-old woman was one of those transferred from Treyton Oak Towers skilled nursing floor to Norton Hospital last week.

According to the most recently released numbers, 23 residents and 13 staff members from the Old Louisville facility have tested positive for the coronavirus.

Also on Monday, Louisville’s director of public health and wellness Dr. Sarah Moyer confirmed during a briefing with Mayor Greg Fischer that an employee of Treyton Oak Towers has been placed on a court-ordered quarantine after testing positive for the coronavirus and refusing to self-isolate. “If you have the virus and you think you are going to be going out and about, it literally is like going out with a knife or a weapon of some kind and just saying ‘I don’t care, I’m going to hurt people.’ And we can’t have that,” Fischer said. — Jared Bennett

5:09 p.m.: Mayor Greg Fischer announced there are now 569 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Jefferson County, an increase of 33 since his last update on Saturday. He said another 5 people have died related to the coronavirus, for a total of 45 deaths.

Dr. Sarah Moyer, the city’s chief health strategist, said at least 170 Louisville residents confirmed to have COVID-19 have recovered.

Fischer also said a new free online program will allow Louisville residents to gain skills for the data economy. The COVID-19 Reskilling Initiative is part of the larger Microsoft Future of Work Initiative run by Ben Reno-Weber in Louisville. It offers courses on topics including data analysis and digital marketing, and range from a couple of hours to weeks or months of instruction.

“Amidst all that is crazy and real hard times for a lot of people, I think there’s a real opportunity for us to come out of his a better community than we were when we went in,” Reno-Weber said. “This is a great moment for us to be investing in ourselves as a community.”

Fischer and Reno-Weber are encouraging people to take this time to potentially secure better jobs in the future.

Scores of Louisville residents are currently out of work due to the pandemic. On top of that, a report last year said nearly half the jobs in the city could be at risk of automation. — Amina Elahi

3:49 p.m.: Metro Council members say the budget process will take place remotely this year, with department heads speaking via Webex to explain their fiscal needs and pressures. The members said they are confident they will get the answers they need from leaders such as police chief Steve Conrad. But they will lose out on the public pleas that are fixtures of budget meetings.

“There is something about having somebody standing at that podium and speaking to us many times in a very passionate way about what they think is important in this community,” said budget committee chair Bill Hollander (D-9).

He said concerned community members will be able to write in or leave messages in support of the services or departments they believe deserve funding, but it won’t be the same as in-person interaction. As for the budget overall, Hollander said it’s not known yet how much Louisville’s economy will suffer during the pandemic but with high unemployment, the city’s largest source of tax revenue will be challenged. He echoed other city leaders’ calls for federal relief for city operations not related to coronavirus.  — Amina Elahi

12:00 p.m.: Indiana is reporting a total of 8,236 people in the state have been confirmed to have COVID-19. Seven more people have died, bringing the state’s total to 350. According to a model from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, today could be the day Indiana’s deaths peak. The model is predicting 26 deaths today. Under the same model, Kentucky’s deaths aren’t projected to peak until later this month — April 25 — when 28 COVID-19 deaths are predicted.

Here’s a full look at confirmed cases and testing in Indiana and Kentucky:

Here’s a close-up of confirmed cases:

And here’s the current count of deaths in the two states:

8:15 a.m.: If Kentucky’s healthcare facilities become overrun with coronavirus patients, tough decisions may have to be made about who gets access to limited resources. But hospitals won’t be making those decisions in a vacuum — they’ll be guided by the state’s crisis standards of care plan. Here’s what you should know.

Sunday, April 12

6:30 p.m.: Limited drive-thru coronavirus testing will be available beginning this week for residents that qualify as high-priority, Gov. Andy Beshear announced Sunday during his regular coronavirus evening briefing.

The first testing site will open Monday in Frankfort and will be offered only to healthcare workers, first responders, people 65 years old or older, and residents with certain chronic health conditions, Beshear said.

The drive-thru testing will be done in conjunction with Kroger Health, and the company will administer an online portal for signups. The tests will be self-administered, which is a less invasive method and helps save personal protection equipment.

At least 250 people will be tested each day at the drive-thru facility, which will be open Monday through Thursday. Beshear said this addition of drive-thru testing could double the state’s testing capacity. The tests will be free, and Kroger is providing the staff and personal protective equipment, he said. Read the whole wrapup from Beshear’s briefing here.

5:30 p.m.: Gov. Andy Beshear announced 134 new cases today across more than a dozen Kentucky counties. The new total is 1,963 statewide. Three deaths were announced today, from Jefferson, Hopkins and Pike counties, for a total of 97.

“We’re still not seeing the type of increases we are seeing in other states and we are very grateful for that,” Beshear said. “Still, we are in that phase the coronavirus is increasing day by day, spreading through the commonwealth, and we have to do everything we can to stop it.”

3:15 p.m.: Officials at Treyton Oak Towers in Louisville have asked for a moment of prayer at 5 p.m. for those suffering from COVID-19 as they mourn the sixth death of a resident from the disease.

In a press release Sunday, officials announced the death of one of the 17 residents transferred to the hospital earlier this week.

“We are keeping the memories of the six friends we have lost in our thoughts,” administrator Mike Wideman said in the release. “On Easter Sunday, we ask for prayers for their families and for the residents and staff members who continue to battle this disease.”

To date, 23 residents and 12 staff members of the Old Louisville nursing home and retirement community have tested positive for COVID-19.

2 p.m.: A symphony of car horns erupted as Chuck Salvo climbed onto the stage to preach.

Salvo faced the cars and lifted his arms to the sky.

“Happy Resurrection Day,” he said. And the horns blared.

Salvo, the pastor of On Fire Christian Church, then began his Easter Sunday sermon. He was on a stage in a parking lot. He had no choir, only speakers to play music from a laptop and a microphone to amplify his voice.

The On Fire Christian Church, unlike many churches across Kentucky, opted to hold service on Sunday against the urging of city and state government officials. About 100 cars pulled into the parking lot off New Cut Road Sunday morning and were guided to parking spots — each about five feet apart — by a crew of men wearing surgical masks. The men ordered people to stay in their cars, and keep their windows only cracked.

Everyone, it seemed, followed directions.

But by holding the service, Salvo was going against the wishes of Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer, who strongly encouraged faith leaders to halt Easter services as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to spread and sicken. As of Saturday evening, Kentucky had recorded 1,840 coronavirus cases and 94 deaths.

Read the story here.

9:15 a.m.: It’s Easter Sunday, and Gov. Andy Beshear has asked churches to hold online services only — and promised that state troopers will record the license plates of violators to enforce quarantine of anyone who attends an in-person service or other mass gathering.

Beshear has said that people who decide to attend Easter services could negate the sacrifices that Kentuckians have made in recent weeks.

If you observe Easter, how are you spending this morning? Tag @WFPLNews in your Easter morning photos on Instagram.

Saturday, April 11

6:44 p.m.: The latest demographic information on Kentuckians who have died from COVID-19 reveal significant racial disparities. While Kentucky has a Black population of around 8%, according to Gov. Andy Beshear 21% of Kentuckians who have died of COVID-19 were Black. 78% were white, and around 1% were Asian.

“We are seeing what we are seeing in other places and that’s a disproportionate number of deaths falling in our Black or African American communities,” Gov. Andy Beshear said during his daily news briefing Saturday.

“I believe it stems from an unequal access to health care,” he said. “We have a lot more work to do, and we should have done it by now.”

The data Beshear shared only represented 81 percent of the state’s deaths, as officials are still in the process of collecting demographic information on cases.

Beshear announced 185 new confirmed cases and 4 new deaths. He urged Kentuckians to heed his order not to attend in-person worship services on Easter Sunday. According to Beshear there are still seven congregations that plan to hold in-person services, despite the risk of infection. Despite criticism from some conservatives, Beshear said he’s sticking to his plan to have Kentucky State Police take down license plate numbers of cars in church parking lots on Easter Sunday. Beshear said that information will be used to order churchgoers to self-quarantine for 14 days.  — Jess Clark

5:15 p.m.: Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer said the judge who issued the temporary restraining order against him did not allow the city to enter evidence in court showing there was not a law enforcement mechanism to enforce Fischer’s directive to churches not to hold drive-in services on Easter Sunday.

Fischer said Louisville Metro Police Department (LMPD) will not be at the drive-in worship service planned by On Fire Christian Church. But he urged worshippers not to attend, saying photos of previous drive-in services showed people did not practice adequate social distancing.

Fischer said LMPD officers will be at the few in-person church services that are still scheduled for Easter Sunday. He said officers will be handing out fliers detailing the health risks in attending the service. He said they will also be taking down license plate numbers of cars in church parking lots. Police will then turn that information over the Louisville Metro Department of Public Health and Wellness.

“Right now we’re just going to be collecting information,” Louisville Metro Public Health Department director Sarah Moyer said.

Moyer said the city will not use the plate numbers to order 14-day quarantines. By contrast, Gov. Andy Beshear said Kentucky State Police will be taking down plate numbers in church parking lots on Easter Sunday, and that the state will be following up to order 14-day quarantines for those churchgoers. — Jess Clark

3:00 p.m.: A district judge has issued a temporary restraining order sought by a Louisville church, which sued the city of Louisville and Mayor Greg Fischer yesterday over his directive for local churches to not hold services of any kind — including drive-in services — on Easter Sunday.

Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear said Friday that state police troopers will record license plate numbers in crowded church parking lots this weekend and local health departments will follow up and require churchgoers to quarantine for 14 days. He said he would leave whether to allow drive-in services up to local governments; Fischer said they would not be allowed in Louisville.

Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron also weighed in yesterday, saying drive-in services were allowed, as long as participants followed social distancing guidelines.

10:00 a.m.: As of this morning, there are 1,693 people with positive coronavirus tests in Kentucky. Indiana’s case count was more than four times that, despite only having about 1.5 times as many people as Kentucky. So, when you break it down by population, here’s what it looks like:

That’s a big difference: in Indiana, more than 100 people have been diagnosed with COVID-19 for every 100,000 people. In Kentucky, it’s about 38 people for every 100,000 residents.

There are a lot of unknown factors here, including how widely testing is being deployed and the fact that scientists believe there are many people who have COVID-19 who either aren’t showing symptoms or haven’t been tested. There are also vast disparities in the percentage of state tests that are turning up positive (in Indiana, an average of 16% of the state’s tests have been positive; in Kentucky, it’s only about 6%), which could mean the way Indiana is deploying its tests is allowing the state to ID more potential cases.

Friday, April 10

6:00 p.m.: Gov. Andy Beshear says state police will record license plate numbers in crowded church parking lots this weekend and report individuals for ignoring social distancing guidelines during the coronavirus pandemic.

Beshear said that local health departments would then go to the homes associated with the license plates and order individuals to quarantine for 14 days. He said that the new order would apply to all mass gatherings, but it’s especially significant for churches celebrating Easter this weekend.

“This is by no means intending to single out churches. It’s making sure we’re not having any type of mass gathering,” Beshear said.

Beshear said most churches are following social distancing guidelines, but that he knows of seven churches planning to meet this weekend.

During his daily press briefing Friday, Beshear announced 242 new cases of COVID-19 in Kentucky, bringing the state’s total to 1,693. He said 11 more Kentuckians have died of the illness, bringing the death toll to 90. — Ryland Barton

4:59 p.m.: Mayor Greg Fischer says there are now 520 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Louisville, a one-day increase of 25 cases. Another six people confirmed to have COVID-19 died since Thursday, bringing the city’s total to 42 lives lost.

He continued to ask people not to attend in-person religious services this weekend. His comments followed Attorney General Daniel Cameron’s statement that religious organizations should not be treated differently than other entities utilizing drive-thru’s.

“You might have the legal right to do something but it doesn’t make it the right thing to do,” Fischer said.

He said allowing in-person services would lead to an unsafe number of people — he estimated tens of thousands — out of their homes at one time. Fischer said police officers will hand out literature about the crisis at churches holding in person services. They will also record the license plate of cars. Dr. Sarah Moyer, the city’s chief health strategist, said that information will be useful for investigating any confirmed cases of individuals who attend those services. — Amina Elahi

3:36 p.m.: Drive-thru Easter services are acceptable as long as the participants follow CDC guidelines for social distancing, said Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron in a statement, apparently overriding Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer’s call for local churches and others not to hold in-person services this weekend.

Cameron said preventing individuals from celebrating religious holidays would be unnecessary if they do so safely.

“Religious organizations should not be treated any differently than other entities that are simultaneously conducting drive-through operations, while also abiding by social distancing policies,” he said. “As long as Kentuckians are permitted to drive through liquor stores, restaurants, and other businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic, the law requires that they must also be allowed to participate in drive-in church services, consistent with existing policies to stop the spread of COVID-19. “

Here’s more.

3:25 p.m.: University of Louisville Health expects to have tested about 370 people for COVID-19 at its drive-thru testing center in downtown Louisville by the end of Friday.

U of L Health began a limited rollout for drive through testing about two weeks ago. Emergency Medicine Physician Hugh Shoff says the drive thru testing is still limited, and only available for patients who receive care with University of Louisville Physicians.

“These are patients that are coming that are mild symptoms otherwise health, able to take care of themselves at home by their providers are really looking to see what kind of results they get. Do they have the COVID-19 or not?,” Shoff said.

Shoff says 36 people have tested positive so far and the average turnaround time for results is just about three days. U of L Health hopes to expand testing in the coming weeks, but are still dealing with limited testing resources. — Ryan Van Velzer

11:36 a.m.: The number of police calls for domestic violence are similar to this same time last year, which is a concern for police and advocates. Domestic violence and child abuse are expected to increase during the coronavirus pandemic, due to increased isolation, financial hardship and families being stuck together in close quarters.

In a Facebook Live video hosted by the mayor’s office, LMPD Lt. Shannon Lauder said she has heard from some victims that they believe the police aren’t responding to 911 calls. But, she said, nothing could be further from the truth.

“If you are in an abusive situation, if you don’t feel safe, if abuse has occured, please call 911,” said Lauder. “There are runs that LMPD has stopped responding to, but it has nothing to do with domestic violence, so please call 911 if you need us and we will come.”

The Center for Women and Families is also still open and their crisis line is available 24/7. CEO Elizabeth Wessels-Martin said the call volume has only increased slightly, but the calls are lasting much longer as they help people to safety plan during the pandemic. If you or someone you know wants to speak to advocate, you can reach the Center for Women and Families confidentially, 24/7, at 844-237-2331. — Eleanor Klibanoff

11:28 a.m.: State health officials say 55 more Indiana residents have died from COVID-19-related illnesses, pushing the state’s death toll during the coronavirus pandemic to 300. The 55 deaths reported Friday by the Indiana State Department of Health were the largest number the state agency has reported to date in its daily pandemic updates, followed by 42 deaths it reported Thursday. The department has said the additional deaths it reports each day occurred over multiple days. The agency says an additional 568 Hoosiers have confirmed cases of COVD-19, increasing Indiana’s total confirmed cases to 6,907 following corrections to the previous day’s total. — The Associated Press

Thursday, April 9

8:39 p.m.: A Valley High School employee has tested positive for coronavirus, according to a letter sent from Jefferson County Public Schools (JCPS) to Valley High School staff Thursday. The letter said the employee tested positive on Mar. 27, and that their “last known possible contact” with other staff was Mar. 25.

“The employee does not work in the nutrition services department and had limited contact with staff,” the letter reads.

According to the letter, Louisville Metro Health notified JCPS of the test results on Thursday.

“This is the first time JCPS has been notified by public health officials of a confirmed case within our district,” the letter said. No details were offered about the condition of the employee.

JCPS students have been out of in-person school since Mar. 16. — Jess Clark

6:38 p.m.: Gov. Andy Beshear has issued an executive order expanding disability benefits for essential workers like grocery store employees, postal workers and child care providers who are still working during the coronavirus pandemic. The benefits would apply if an employee is infected with coronavirus or takes time off because a health care provider recommends quarantining due to possible exposure.

La Tasha Buckner, Beshear’s chief of staff, said that coverage already applies to first responders and health care workers, but it needed to be expanded.

“Now we have a larger category of people who are required, because of their jobs, to have a lot of interaction with other people, and because of that they’re at a higher risk for COVID exposure,” Buckner said.

During his update Thursday evening, Beshear also said he talked to Vice President Mike Pence about trying to get more personal protective equipment and supplies for Kentucky first responders.

“He said he would start working on it, what would have been this morning. We haven’t heard back,” Beshear said. “Our requests are pretty reasonable.”

Beshear announced 134 new cases of coronavirus, bringing the state’s total to 1,452. 79 people have died. — Ryland Barton

5:03 p.m.: Mayor Greg Fischer says there are now 495 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Louisville, an increase of 17 compared to yesterday. That’s much lower than the 76 new cases reported Wednesday.

Fischer also regularly announces new deaths related to COVID-19. Today, he said five more people had died, bringing the city’s total to 36 lives lost.

Fischer said the national peak in cases could arrive in the next week or two, citing health experts. He said that although the numbers of deaths of those confirmed to have COVID-19 may be lower than projected, the numbers are still appalling. More than 16,000 Americans with the disease have died so far. — Amina Elahi

2:58 p.m.: The University of Louisville says its furloughing employees and cutting salaries to stave off the budget impacts of COVID-19.

In an email Thursday, U of L president Neeli Bendapudi said the university is projecting a $40 million hit from the impacts of COVID-19 for this fiscal year, “unless we take immediate, strategic and necessary steps to resolve it.”

The university is suffering financially from a lack of elective medical procedures, a cancelled March Madness, and lower tuition rates as classes move online. The university says it’s putting some employees on furlough, but didn’t say how many or which employees. They’re also instituting a hiring freeze, and cutting pay for employees making over $100,000 dollars a year. Those pays cuts will last through at least the end of June. — Jess Clark

1:45 p.m.: Baptist Health is furloughing some workers, and reassigning others as the eight-hospital health system grapples with the financial, medical and logistical challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Like other hospitals across the country, Baptist Health is striking a delicate balance between maintaining a strong front line of skilled caregivers to battle the COVID-19 pandemic, while grappling with the resulting drain on resources,” Baptist Health CEO Gerard Colman said in a written statement sent out Thursday.

According to the statement, temporary unpaid furloughs will affect employees in jobs that “do not support caregivers or are not critical to clinical operations related to COVID-19.”

The system does not have a final count as to how many employees will be impacted.

The statement also says “top leaders” will take a 20 percent pay cut, and that other vice presidents and executive leaders will take a 15 percent pay cut. — Jess Clark

10:43 a.m.: Indiana is reporting another 398 people have tested positive for COVID-19, bringing the state total to 6,341. Forty-two more people have died, bringing the state’s death total to 245.

Here’s a full look at confirmed cases and testing in Indiana and Kentucky:

Here’s a close-up of confirmed cases:

And here’s the current count of deaths in the two states:

9:45 a.m.: It’s been a few weeks where we’ve all seen our lives change dramatically as the city, state and region shut down in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus. We want to hear your stories and include your voices on this Friday’s episode of “In Conversation” as we discuss how much our everyday lives have changed amid a pandemic. Here’s how you can help:

  1. Record a voice memo on your phone in which you tell us your name, what you do and how your life has changed.
  2. Email the voice memo to news@wfpl.org.
  3. Listen to “In Conversation” Friday at 11 a.m. on WFPL.

Laura Ellis, WFPL’s senior producer and podcast editor, created this video if you’re not sure how to create and send a voice memo (and it features at least one cute dog).

Wednesday, April 8

6:27 p.m.: Without major debt relief from the federal government, Louisville will face massive budget cuts that will make the $25 million slashed last year look “like a walk in the park,” Mayor Greg Fischer warned during his daily news conference.

The pandemic and related job losses have led to a large drop in the city’s revenue through occupational and net profits taxes, which one economist projects could amount to nearly 3% of lost revenue. Fischer urged Congress to provide more relief to local governments. — Amina Elahi 

6:11 p.m.: Only one adult per household will be allowed to go to the grocery store and other essential businesses under a new executive order issued by Gov. Andy Beshear.

The measure is intended help slow the spread of coronavirus and includes exceptions for people who can’t shop by themselves or who don’t have childcare.

Latasha Buckner, Beshear’s chief of staff, said that the order would help reduce crowds at essential businesses and limit exposure to families. She said that people shouldn’t treat a shopping trip like “date night.”

Beshear also announced a ban on door-to-door solicitation and a renewal of an order allowing people to get a 30-day refill on prescriptions and allowing pharmacists to use telehealth to meet with clients.

“This is just a way to keep everybody healthy and to make sure we’re getting everybody what they need without exposing them unnecessarily to the coronavirus,” Beshear said.

Kentucky again surpassed its previous daily increase of coronavirus cases, with 204 new cases confirmed on Wednesday and 1,346 total cases. Beshear announced eight new deaths, bringing the state’s total to 73. — Ryland Barton

5:45 p.m.: Louisville experienced its largest single-day jump in coronavirus cases Wednesday, Mayor Greg Fischer said. The total is now 478, an increase of 76 since Tuesday. Mayor Fischer also reported an additional four deaths related to COVID-19, bringing the city’s total to 31.

For the first time, Fischer shared more detailed demographic information about Louisville’s coronavirus cases and deaths. He said the data were incomplete because racial information is sometimes delayed or not provided by the patient. The city has race data for 77 percent of coronavirus cases, he said. Nearly two-thirds of those confirmed to have the virus are white, 27% are Black and 9% are Asians. Fischer was only able to share these details for the 27 people who had died as of Tuesday. Of them, 75% were white, 20% were Black and 4% were Asian. About 70 percent of Louisville residents are white, according to Census data. Almost 24% are Black and less than 3% are Asian.

Across the country, reports indicate that the virus is resulting in a disproportionately high number of deaths of Black people. The numbers for Louisville, though incomplete, so far seem to indicate the impact on various racial groups is more in line with their percentage of the local population than in some other places. For example, in Illinois, Blacks make up nearly 28% of confirmed cases and more than 43% of deaths, despite representing less than 15% of the state’s population. Fischer said Metro has always worked on addressing the social factors that contribute to varying health outcomes in different parts of the city.

“We will continue to do that because in Louisville, just like in cities all over America, there’s a 12 years life difference between those in the most advantaged areas of town in resources and those to the least advantaged,” he said.

3:31 p.m.: At least 113 healthcare workers in Jefferson County have tested positive for COVID-19 as of Monday, according to information from the county’s three major hospital systems.

There were 1,008 cases across the state on Monday — meaning about 11 percent of all those who have tested positive in Kentucky are healthcare workers in Jefferson County. Here’s more.

10:41 a.m.: Twelve residents of the Treyton Oak Towers senior living facility in Old Louisville have tested positive for coronavirus along with one staff member, a spokesperson for Gov. Andy Beshear has confirmed.

Treyton Oak Towers houses people requiring a range of services, from independent apartments to skilled nursing care. The nursing home is designated a four-star facility by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid, which means the facility’s overall rating is above average for long-term care facilities, but inspections have found problems with infection control in recent years.

Treyton Oak Towers has yet to provide comment and further confirmation regarding deaths or hospitalizations at the facility. Here’s more.

10:15 a.m.: Indiana is reporting another large increase of cases: 436 more people have tested positive for COVID-19, bringing the state total to 5,943. Thirty more people have died, bringing the state’s death total to 203.

Here’s a full look at confirmed cases and testing in Indiana and Kentucky:

Here’s a closer look at confirmed cases:

 

Here’s where deaths stand as of this morning:

 

Tuesday, April 7

5:54 p.m.: Gov. Andy Beshear announced 147 new coronavirus cases Tuesday, bringing the state’s total to 1,149. Beshear also announced seven new deaths from the illness, for a total of 65.

New coronavirus test kits have arrived in Kentucky and are being distributed regionally to 32 partner hospitals outside of Louisville, Lexington and northern Kentucky. The new tests are being processed by Gravity Diagnostics, which Kentucky is paying $2.5 million to expand its testing capabilities across the state.

Kentucky Public Health Commissioner Dr. Stephen Stack said the development will allow the state to expand its capabilities by 2,000 tests per day, but is still subject to the availability of special swabs used in the tests.

Because tests are still so limited in Kentucky, they will be reserved for people exhibiting symptoms over age 60 or with chronic health conditions, as well as health care workers and first responders.

Officials also announced an expansion of Kentucky’s unemployment call center to try and handle a massive influx of claims over recent weeks.

Josh Benton, deputy secretary of the Education and Workforce Development Cabinet, said that the center had 12 people answering phones a few weeks ago and will soon have more than 1,000. He encouraged people who have received letters denying their claims to disregard them. — Ryland Barton

5:09 p.m.: Mayor Greg Fischer is encouraging those celebrating Christian and Jewish holidays this week to stay home rather than gathering with their communities in houses of worship or at home, like they would in normal years. Unlike other parts of the state, Fischer said “drive-in” services are banned in Louisville due to how dense the city’s population is.

“This is not the time to put large numbers of people in the same space. That would create a tinderbox for the virus and create way too many opportunities for people to contract the disease,” he said.

Churches went from saying they would offer drive-up services, to adding on communion and Easter Bunny visits.

Fischer encouraged worshipers to contact their ministers about not holding in-person services, and said it would be appropriate to report non-compliant churches to 311. He did not say there would be active enforcement by police of preventing such gatherings.

As of Tuesday, there have been 402 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Louisville, an increase of 30 since yesterday, Fischer said. He reported an additional four deaths related to the disease, bringing the total for the city to 27. — Amina Elahi

2:45 p.m.: Louisville Metro Government officials are refusing to disclose documentation that would show how public money is being spent during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting on March 31 requested all contracts, purchase orders and invoices recorded since March 6. In a response on Monday, city officials denied the request for documents that would shed light on government spending since Kentucky’s first coronavirus case, and Gov. Andy Beshear’s declaration of a state of emergency.

City officials said fulfilling the request for about three weeks of spending records would create an “unreasonable burden” on the government agency.

“The staff necessary to respond to this request are also devoted to assisting in the city’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic; thus, it would be a burden not only to them, but also to the residents of Louisville Metro relying on Metro’s work if they were to respond to this request at this time,” the response stated. Read the whole story here.

12 p.m.: Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul announced Tuesday that he has tested negative for the coronavirus. Paul first tested positive about two weeks ago and was asymptomatic, according to a statement release by his office.

10:23 a.m.: Indiana is reporting another large increase of cases: 563 more people have tested positive for COVID-19, bringing the state total to 5,507. Thirty-four more people have died, bringing the state’s death total to 173.

Here’s a full look at confirmed cases and testing in Indiana and Kentucky:

Here’s a closer look at confirmed cases:

And here are the death totals:

Monday, April 6

6:33 p.m.: Gov. Andy Beshear said that cabins in state parks will be used to quarantine health care workers who are exposed to coronavirus while responding to the pandemic.
“Once they are in quarantine but haven’t tested positive, needing to be away from their family or others that they could spread it, it’s a good use of those state parks and we’re excited to do it,” Beshear said.

Beshear also said that, if necessary, state park lodges will be used to house and treat coronavirus patients, with room for about 1,200 beds across the state. State parks have been closed to overnight visitors since last week.

Last week, Beshear announced plans to convert the state fair grounds in Louisville and Nutter Field House in Lexington into field hospitals.

During his update, Beshear highlighted cases where coronavirus was spreading rapidly. Two inmates and five staff members at Green River Correctional Facility tested positive for coronavirus. Nine patients and three staff members at Western State Hospital in Hopkinsville have tested positive.

Monday marks one month since Kentucky’s first coronavirus case was reported.

5:15 p.m.: Louisville has now lost 23 residents to coronavirus, including three new deaths announced Monday by Mayor Greg Fischer. He said there have been 372 cases confirmed in the area to date.

Fourty-four Louisville first responders were off work today for issues related to coronavirus. Four of them — three police officers and one corrections officer — were previously reported to have tested positive. There are 22 employees across police, fire, corrections and EMS in self-quarantine due to exposure to someone who has COVID-19, and 18 are in isolation either waiting to be tested or for their test results.

Fischer continued to encourage everyone to wear masks in public, in accordance with recent CDC guidelines. The city’s mask ordinance, which prohibits wearing masks that cover a “substantial portion of the face” will not be enforced since the facial coverings recommended to protect against coronavirus are for the nose and mouth area only.

Dr. Sarah Moyer, the city’s chief health strategist, offered tips for mask-wearing, saying it is essential to wash hands before putting on and removing your protective mask. The masks should be thrown in the laundry or, if disposable, the trash immediately after wearing, she said.

“If you’re touching your face and your hands are dirty or if you get the inside of the mask dirty and put it back on your face, that’s worse than no mask at all,” Moyer said.

Fischer provided updates on the One Louisville COVID-19 Response Fund, which will provide grants to families and businesses economically affected by the crisis. The Fund has raised $8 million through donations and more than 3,000 households have signed up to apply for $1,000 grants.

He also said he is working with Metro Council to shift half a million dollars from the Louisville C.A.R.E.S. program, which funds construction of below market rate rental housing, to provide grants for renters who make less than half the area median income and who are facing eviction. Although evictions are currently suspended in Kentucky, renters will still be responsible for paying their rents at some point.

Metro Council will resume meeting this week following its spring break, and the CARES resolution is set to be read into the record on Thursday, which will allow it to be considered by the budget committee as soon as next week. — Amina Elahi

4:30 p.m.: Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb has extended the state’s Stay At Home order for two weeks. This also includes a two-week extension on the orders that limit operations for restaurants and bars.

“Hoosiers have done a great job adapting to the new rules put in place during this public health emergency, but I believe the next two weeks to month could be the most critical for all of us,” Holcomb said in a press release. “So I am asking you to take even more precautions: only make in-person purchases when absolutely needed and use other delivery and pickup options when available. Limit who is traveling with you and entering stores.”

Essential retail stores including grocery stores, pharmacies and home repair stores can stay open, but they have to limit the number of customers inside, limit hours and designate certain hours for the elderly and other vulnerable populations. They also have to comply with certain measures to protect both workers and the public.

As of midnight tonight, all Indiana campgrounds will be closed, but state parks remain open.

Read Holcomb’s order here.  — Erica Peterson

3:40 p.m.: Kentucky will pay Covington-based private lab Gravity Diagnostics to test for the coronavirus at a rate of $51 per test, according to the Master Agreement between the state and company.

That’s the same rate that labs can bill Medicare for coronavirus tests.

The initial term of the contract runs April 7 through April 31. Gravity Diagnostics has agreed to test 50,000 samples during that time period. That amounts to 2,000 samples a day, 6 days a week and a total cost of $2.55 million. Here’s more on the state contract.

1:17 p.m.: Have you seen drive-thru coronavirus testing around Louisville? If so, know that all of these sites may not be legit. Here’s what to know before you let a stranger stick a swab up your nose.

10:00 a.m.: New numbers are out from Indiana, showing 4,944 people in the state have confirmed cases of COVID-19 as of this morning. That’s an increase of 533 over yesterday. There have also been an additional 12 deaths, bringing the state’s death total to 139.

Here’s a full look at confirmed cases and testing in Indiana and Kentucky:

And here’s a closer look at confirmed cases:

Here’s where the deaths stand as of this morning:

Sunday, April 5

5:53 p.m.: Gov. Andy Beshear has announced a testing arrangement with Gravity Diagnostics that could double the amount of  coronavirus testing capability in Kentucky. The arrangement could result in up to 2,000 tests a day. The testing results could be returned the following day. However, Beshear said the capacity is dependent on the availability of swabs, which are in short supply. He said the tests are meant to expand capacity outside the so-called Golden Triangle of Louisville, Lexington and Northern Kentucky, where Gravity Diagnostics is based. He said “tier one” patients will be the priority. Tier one patients include medical professsionals, first responders and people who are symptomatic or at high risk. Beshear said the tests will be sent out beginning on Monday. —Jared Bennett

4:08 p.m.: Louisville Greg Fischer says Louisville hospitals have “adequate capacity” for COVID-19 patients as of Sunday. He made his comments during his Sunday afternoon briefing, when he announced 313 cases with 20 fatalities.

The mayor donned a face mask during his briefing to encourage everyone to follow new CDC guidelines about wearing cloth masks in groceries and other public places when making essential trips outside the home.

Jared Bennett | wfpl.org

Mayor Greg Fischer urged Louisville residents to wear masks when making essential trips out into the public.

Fischer also said three Louisville Metro Police Department officers have tested positive for the virus. Three other tests are pending.

3:21 p.m.: Some Kentucky churches have held Palm Sunday services in defiance of Gov. Andy Beshear’s warning against in-person worship. News outlets report dozens of people were at Maryville Baptist Church in Louisville on Sunday. And Louisville’s Our Savior Lutheran Church streamed its in-person service live on YouTube. The church had required online registration beforehand and restricted seating to every other pew. Beshear has warned that mass gatherings are spreading the coronavirus. Beshear first issued guidance that churches cancel in-person services on March 11. According to health officials, Kentucky has at least 917 positive cases and 40 deaths.   —Associated Press

Saturday, April 4

6:31 p.m. Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear says his administration is doing everything it can to prepare hospitals to be inundated with cases of COVID-19, but nearly every time the state has placed an order for medical protective gear, the federal government has prevented its transfer.
Kentucky is scaling up the number of hospital beds, enlisting state manufacturers to make protective equipment and doing its best to acquire supplies for medical workers amid a critical shortage.
State officials have also requested additional gloves, masks and other protective equipment from the Strategic National Stockpile, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and through private contracts. But in most cases, Beshear said the federal government has either bought it first or has told the supplier not to send the equipment.
“Our biggest problem is that just about every single order that we have our there for PPE, we get a call right when it’s supposed to be shipped, and it’s typically the federal government has bought it,” Beshear said during a Saturday press conference. –Ryan Van Velzer

6:10 p.m.: TARC has announced that one of their bus drivers has tested positive for COVID-19.

According to TARC’s statement, the operator drove Route 10 from 12:20 p.m. until 9:22 p.m. on March 27. The driver became ill on March 30. In the statement, TARC recommends that anyone who rode route 10 on March 27 monitor themselves for symptoms, and self-isolate at home if symptoms occur.

The statement continues with a reminder that TARC is now operating for essential services only and should only be taken to get groceries and necessary supplies, or to go to work. TARC’s statement ends with an all-caps warning: “DO NOT TRAVEL ON TARC DURING THIS TIME UNLESS ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY” –Laura Ellis

11:25 a.m.: At least four people associated with a western Kentucky nursing home have now tested positive for COVID-19.

The River’s Bend Retirement Community is in Lyon County. A 94-year-old resident tested positive on Tuesday. She’s now receiving care in her granddaughter’s home in Tennessee, and her diagnosis spurred county officials to seek widespread testing.
On Friday, the Lyon County Judge Executive said 50 people who live or work at the nursing home were tested after the initial positive case was announced. By Friday evening, a dozen test results had been returned — with a quarter of them positive.
Judge Executive Wade White confirmed that three more people tested positive at the facility — one resident and two staff members.
The staff members who tested positive worked with the 94-year-old woman who first tested positive earlier in the week, White said. Both staffers are now under quarantine. The resident who tested positive on Friday is still at the facility, White said.
Read the whole story here–Jake Ryan

11:10 a.m.: New federal guidelines recommend everyone wear cloth face masks in public to help limit transmission of the coronavirus.
Why?
The latest understanding of the virus is that it mainly spreads through close contact between people through respiratory droplets from an infected person. That means sneezing, coughing and even having a conversation in close proximity are enough to spread the virus to another person, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
People don’t necessarily need to show symptoms to spread the virus, either. Recent studies have shown that people who have COVID-19 can transmit it without showing any symptoms—while asymptomatic—or before developing them—while presymptomatic.
Wearing a cloth mask does not provide the same level of protection as wearing a surgical or N95 mask, but it does limit droplets from leaving one person’s nose and mouth and reaching another person.
What Kind of Mask?
The CDC says medical-grade masks need to be reserved for health care workers and medical first responders working the front lines. That’s why the CDC recommends making cloth masks out of everyday materials including scarves, bandanas, hand towels and old T-shirts.
The CDC provides instructions on making masks out of household materials. Other websites have more in-depth videos.
When do I wear a mask?
The CDC recommends wearing a mask in public settings like the grocery store and the pharmacy where it can be difficult to maintain social distancing, and in areas where there is a significant risk of community-based transmission. –Ryan Van Velzer

Friday, April 3

6:21 p.m.: During his regular evening briefing on Friday, Gov. Andy Beshear said 90 more people have tested positive for the COVID-19 disease, bringing the total number of positive cases to at least 831.

He said six more people — four women and two men — have died. The total number of deaths from the coronavirus is 37. 

At least 228 people have fully recovered.

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 ordered state parks to shut down 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,” he said, “and we want to protect them the best we can.”

He also encouraged residents to avoid any travel, and to venture out of their homes only if they can maintain space from others. –Jake Ryan

5:22 p.m.: Since yesterday, five people from Jefferson County with COVID-19 have died, the largest single-day figure to date, said Mayor Greg Fischer in his daily press briefing. A total of 14 people in Louisville with the disease have died and Fischer said there have been 274 individuals confirmed to have coronavirus here.

Like Gov. Andy Beshear did yesterday, Fischer said nice weather this weekend is not an invitation to crowd together in public or elsewhere. He warned that if people do not maintain a safe distance in public, he may be forced to shut down parks or other popular spots. Some places, like the Big Four Bridge, would be easier to close than others, such as Cherokee Park or Chickasaw Park.

“We’re evaluating all that type of stuff. We’re evaluating closing the roads that go through Iroquois Park or Cherokee Park because as cars go through there, if there’s a lot of people on the road, people have to be closer together,” Fischer said.

He did not provide a timeline for when such measures may be implemented, though he said the city would evaluate each “as they come.” Dr. Sarah Moyer, the city’s chief health strategist, said the health department has closed seven non-essential businesses and cited three essential businesses for not complying with social distancing.

Leaders of two quasi-governmental agencies joined Fischer to urge responsibility at this time. Tony Parrott, executive director of the Metropolitan Sewer District, said people at home should not flush anything other than toilet paper. And Laura Douglas, the interim co-director of the Transit Authority of River City, said bus riders should limit trips for essential reasons such as work and grocery shopping.

Both Douglas and the mayor said fare-free rides, which bus systems such as Cincinnati’s have recently done, are not yet in the plan for TARC. Douglas said suspending fares could attract more riders and inhibit social distancing. — Amina Elahi

2:12 p.m.: The Kentucky National Guard has activated about 200 guardsmen to help provide support across the state.

They’re stationed at hospitals, helping with food distribution, staffing call centers and setting up a field hospital at the State Fairgrounds in Louisville, said Major Stephen Martin, spokesman.  The Kentucky Guard is not enforcing martial law, despite rumors to the contrary.

“The guard is there to support state agencies within our state of Kentucky,” he said. “We’re there at the governor’s direction to help state agencies come up with solutions that will help people.”

Kentucky guardsmen from both the Air Force and the Army are helping provide support in several ways:

  • Assisting law enforcement at more than 20 hospitals as of Friday (they do not have the power to detain or arrest, but can provide assistance to law enforcement).
    Staffing call centers including one where residents can call-in to donate personal protective equipment such as gloves and masks. That number is 502-607-6844. The system was overwhelmed with calls Thursday, but is now operational.
    Coordinating with four food banks in Louisville, Lexington, Elizabeth and Wilder, Kentucky.
    Working to setup a field hospital at the State Fairgrounds over the next couple weeks in conjunction with the state and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. — Ryan Van Velzer

11:39 a.m.: Jefferson County Schools Superintendent Marty Pollio said the district will follow the governor’s guidance and close through May 1 to in-person classes. Pollio told WFPL In Conversation host Rick Howlett the district has tentative plans to open May 4, but expressed skepticism conditions would allow the district to reopen at all to in-person classes this academic year. An official announcement from the district is scheduled to come this afternoon. — Jess Clark

10:00 a.m.: Indiana is reporting new numbers for today: there are now 3,437 people with confirmed COVID-19 in the state (that’s an increase of 398 since yesterday). There have been an additional 23 deaths, bringing the state’s death total to 101. Here’s what the case and testing data looks like this morning (note that large increase in Kentucky testing):

 

Here’s a closer look at the confirmed cases:

Copy: Coronavirus Total Count
Infogram

And here’s a graph of the COVID-19 deaths so far:

9:00 a.m.: During normal times, the nurses at Family First Health Care in Adair County handle 6,000 visits a year for everything from preventative care to chronic treatment for diabetes and heart disease to farm injuries.

But these are not normal times.

Many of the services rural health clinics like Family First provide have been put on hold. That helps with social distancing and preserves medical capacity for a potential surge in COVID-19 patients, but it also means fewer patients coming through the door and paying for health care.

At a time when they are needed perhaps more than ever, clinics like Family First are worried about making ends meet. Read more here.

Thursday, April 2

8:10 p.m.: About 40 people who live or work at a western Kentucky nursing home will be tested for the COVID-19 disease after a woman who lived at the facility tested positive this week, according to county officials.

The River’s Bend Retirement Community is located in Lyon County. The 94-year-old woman is one of three people that have tested positive in the county. Her granddaughter told KyCIR that the family was first told the test was negative, and other family members were exposed. Now she’s caring for her grandmother at home. “She is declining and my heart is breaking,” she said. Read the whole story here.

5:43 p.m.: Gov. Andy Beshear announced 11 new deaths related to coronavirus on Thursday, extending back to March 31. He said test results indicating the deceased’s COVID-19 status are sometimes delayed. All but one of the cases were people with other medical conditions.

Beshear also revised the number of positive cases from Wednesday down to 670, and said test results come from different sources and that the state verifies the results before reporting them. The number of new cases today were 100, for a total of 770 as of Thursday afternoon.

Beshear also said the state has not been tracking how many confirmed COVID-19 patients have recovered, but that it would start now.

“We know the number is above 60,” he said. — Amina Elahi

4:55 p.m.: Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer announced one new death from coronavirus in Jefferson County on Thursday bringing the total number of fatalities to nine.

All of the individuals who have died were in high-risk categories over the age of 60 with chronic medical conditions, according to a city health official.

Fischer confirmed a total of 241 cases of COVID-19 in the city Thursday — an increase of 13 cases over Wednesday.

Fischer reminded residents to stay home as much as possible to reduce the spread of the virus including limiting trips to the grocery store, pharmacy and even family gatherings.

“The bottom line folks is we have to restrict mobility even more,” Fischer said.

Fischer encouraged people to still get outside, exercise and enjoy the spring weather but also said he will consider closing parks if people continue to gather in groups.

More than 1,100 people have called in with complaints to the city about businesses operating in violations of Gov. Andy Beshear’s orders.

All non-essential businesses are required to close and even essential businesses could be ordered to close if they are not following social distancing requirements, said Environmental Health Administrator Connie Mendel.

The city has closed seven businesses so far, Mendel said.

Fischer also announced the city has already raised about $7.5 million through the One Louisville: Covid-19 Response Fund to provide financial assistance for communities, households and businesses impacted by the virus and its economic impacts.

“I know that we are resilient people, we are compassionate people and we will do what it takes to get through this and we will get through this,” Fischer said. — Ryan Van Velzer

4:13 p.m.: Gov. Andy Beshear has asked Kentucky school superintendents to keep their districts closed to in-person classes until May 1, according to information on Trimble County Schools webpage. The Kentucky Department of Education said Beshear had a call with district superintendents at 2 p.m. The governor is expected to make an official announcement during his 5 p.m. briefing. Meanwhile, across the river, Indiana Gov. Eric  Holcomb signed an executive order today calling on all Indiana schools to remain closed through the end of the academic year, according to the Indiana Dept. of Education.
“The last thing that we want to do is kid ourselves about our kids’ health and safety,” Holcomb said during an afternoon press conference. — Jess Clark

1:36 p.m.: A few weeks ago, a medical interpreter at the University of Louisville Hospital says she was interpreting for a Spanish-speaking patient. As she translated the healthcare professional’s questions and the patient’s answers, it dawned on her.

“She had clear respiratory symptoms, she could hardly stop coughing, she had traveled outside the country,” said the interpreter.

She realized she was standing in close quarters with a possible coronavirus patient. She said she was completely unprotected.

Several staff interpreters told KyCIR that this experience is not unique. They say the University of Louisville Hospital is endangering them, healthcare providers and patients by not implementing appropriate protections amid the coronavirus outbreak. Here’s more.

10:45 a.m.: New numbers out from Indiana show an increase of 474 people with confirmed COVID-19 tests since yesterday morning, for a total of 3,039 positive cases. Seventy-eight people have died from the new coronavirus. Here’s the latest information:

7:45 a.m.: Wondering how to parse out the numbers of people with positive coronavirus tests in Kentucky? Where are they? And how many people are potentially at greater risk in each Kentucky county? Data Reporter Alexandra Kanik has built a tool to help with that. Check it out below.


Wednesday, April 1

7:23 p.m.: Gov. Andy Beshear said he’s frustrated that Kentucky is struggling to compete with the federal government in buying up the country’s limited supply of personal protective equipment (PPE), like face-masks.

“I know that every day that we can’t get it [PPE] we are putting people’s safety on the line. Yes, it is a major problem,” he said during his daily briefing.

Beshear said the state has made progress in increasing the number of hospital beds and ventilators. He said he expects agreements to temporarily convert two hotels into hospitals will add 8,000 beds to the state’s existing 18,000. He also expects the state to get an additional 71 ventilators to add to the state’s 1,352 – short of his goal to double the number of the critical devices.

Beshear announced 93 new cases of coronavirus today, and two new deaths: a 60-year-old man from Daviess County, and a 76-year-old woman from Hopkins County. Beshear said although Louisville announced one death today, the state hadn’t yet confirmed it. He said Kentucky has a total of 20 deaths. As of Wednesday evening, Kentucky has 680 confirmed cases of the disease.

While trying to prepare for an influx of patients, state officials say they’re also working to address a huge backlog of unemployment insurance claims. Beshear said he has heard the reports about long wait times and problems with the website.

“We haven’t been able to move fast enough. It’s unprecedented times. It’s an amount of claims that we’ve never seen before,” he said. “But you know what, it’s our job to fix it.”

Officials say they’ve updated the website and are trying to hire more people to work the phones. The state is asking those seeking unemployment insurance to use the online application to file and check claims if possible, and save the phone lines for people who have a disability or who are having technical issues with the website.

5:13 p.m.: Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer said the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Louisville is up to 228, from 206 on Tuesday. An additional person died, making the city’s total coronavirus-related fatalities eight. Fischer said a new report from the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington predicts Kentucky will hit its coronavirus peak in mid-May. “There is a brutal reality to this. And part of what we have to do as a community is obviously keep the spread from happening, but we also have to prepare ourselves for potentially what could be happening in terms of fatalities from this COVID-19 virus,” he said. The University of Washington tool predicts Kentucky could have 815 deaths by early August. Fischer said Louisville could experience 150 to 200 deaths in that time period based on its proportion of the state’s population. — Amina Elahi

3:32 p.m.: Metro Council member Marilyn Parker (R-18) is in self-quarantine following exposure to a person who subsequently tested positive for COVID-19. Parker is a registered nurse in Louisville who said she cared for a patient who was later diagnosed.

A press release from the council’s minority caucus said Parker has some coronavirus symptoms but has not yet been tested. A representative did not immediately respond to emailed questions.

“As a Metro Council representative, I had already moved my daily activities away from City Hall and have been working through digital communications with my colleagues. I will continue working to serve my constituents and get results for the people of this community despite these challenges,” Parker said, according to the press release.

She is the second council member known to have been exposed to coronavirus. Over the weekend, Paula McCraney (D-7) was diagnosed with COVID-19 and hospitalized. — Amina Elahi

3:20 p.m.: Renters make up 33 percent of Kentucky’s households — and despite the pandemic, the rent is due. Today, the Supreme Court issued a new order stopping landlords from filing eviction cases until at least mid-May. But what does this mean practically for renters? Jacob Ryan explains.

12:55 p.m.: Jefferson County Public Schools still has about 12,000 Chromebooks available for JCPS families who need a computer. The district has collected 25,000 existing Chromebooks from classrooms across the district, sanitized them, and boxed them up to ship to JCPS families who are eligible for free or reduced-price lunch, or families of special education students. Families have already claimed about 13,000 of them. The district is extending the deadline for families to request a Chromebook to Thursday at 5 p.m. Families eligible to receive a Chromebook should have received an email with a link to make the request. You can also call 502-313-HELP. Wait times for that line are about 5 minutes due to a large volume of calls. Interpretation is available.

Families of students receiving special education can also request a WiFi hotspot with 3 months of unlimited data. Jefferson County Schools Superintendent Marty Pollio said the district has purchased 6,000 hotspots from T-Mobile, at a cost of $871,200. He expects the district could be reimbursed for most of those costs by private foundations and the federal government.

“All the guidance we’ve gotten from [The Kentucky Department of Education] on [Exceptional Child Education], and special education services is about how important it is to have the connectivity and the device,” Pollio said.

Pollio said he’d like to get more hotspots, but there is a national shortage as districts across the country are buying them up.

The district does not know how many students are without adequate internet access or a device, both of which are necessary to access the digital version of JCPS’ remote instruction plan, or nontraditional instruction (NTI). NTI begins April 7 for JCPS students.
Pollio said district survey’s show the vast majority of JCPS students have at the very least a smartphone.

“What we don’t know is how many have limited data or enough Wifi capability to have this online instruction,” he said.

Spectrum is providing 60 days free WiFi to homes of K-12 students, college students and teachers who were previously without access. AT&T is providing two months of free service to families who qualify for free and reduced-price lunch.

The district will also be providing paper materials to families at meal sites, if they are unable to get internet access or a device. — Jess Clark

12:47 p.m.: A Louisville metro corrections officer has tested positive for the coronavirus. Here’s the statement from metro government:

A Louisville Metro Department of Corrections officer has a confirmed case of the COVID-19 virus. The officer last worked a shift on Tuesday, March 24 and, after experiencing symptoms, was tested by the officers’s physician on March 25. The employee was notified today that the test was positive.  The officer continues self-isolating at home. Metro Corrections is in communication with Louisville Metro Health & Wellness and is working to identify and notify individuals who worked with the officer recently. The department also is cleaning and sanitizing the officer’s work area.

10:14 a.m.: New numbers this morning from Indiana: There are now 2,565 people with positive coronavirus tests in the state, and 65 people have died from COVID-19.

9:45 a.m.: Yesterday marked sharp increases in the number of people with confirmed cases of COVID-19 in both Indiana and Kentucky.

Here’s a look at where we stand:

And so it’s clearer, here’s the same case data with the testing data omitted:

And here’s the current count of deaths related to the virus in Kentucky and Indiana:

 

Tuesday, March 31

7:42 p.m.: An employee at GE Appliance Park in Louisville has a probable but unconfirmed case of coronavirus. According to a release from the company, the employee is under quarantine, and the company is notifying anyone who was in close contact with the worker, and asking them to stay at home.

GE Appliance Park just reopened yesterday after having been closed for a week to implement safety measures and deep clean the facility. On March 28, employees held a protest asking for hazard pay and other accommodations. When they returned to work on March 30, some said they still did not feel safe at work.

Now the company says Building Three at the appliance park will close for 48 hours while high traffic areas are cleaned. According to the release, no work will be performed “in the affected area of the building” for the next 14 days.

GE did not name the affected employee. In a letter to union members on March 31, IUE-CWA Local 83761 President Dino Driskell said he was in quarantine awaiting the results of a COVID-19 test. Driskell said he had been coughing for a few days and running a fever since the day before.

5:55 p.m.:  Gov. Andy Beshear announced a “tough day for us on just about every metric” during his briefing. Kentucky had 114 new positive cases and seven deaths Tuesday, the largest single-day increase in cases and the highest death toll yet. “We knew this was coming,” Beshear said. “There will be days where we have more than 114 new cases and days where we have more than six new deaths. We are prepared for this.” One additional death, a Campbell County resident in their 80’s, was announced in the middle of the press conference.

Beshear announced that grocery store workers would now be able to send their children to the state-run child care centers that are currently serving the children of first responders and healthcare providers. Additionally, retired police officers, firefighters, EMS responders and corrections officers can be hired back with no penalty to their retirement.

He said the state was going to be piloting a drive-thru testing model in Franklin County starting Wednesday as a “proof of concept.” And he chided county fiscal courts for having in-person meetings, encouraging them to instead meet virtually in a way that allowed the public to attend and participate.

5:30 p.m.: Mayor Greg Fischer said Louisville’s total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases is 206 as of Tuesday, an increase of 43 from Monday. He also announced there were three new deaths related to the coronavirus, plus one from March 23 that officials now know was also linked to the virus. Dr. Sarah Moyer with the city’s health department said all of those who passed away were in high-risk categories, meaning they were over 60 or had chronic medical conditions.

Fischer said the community is doing well overall with social distancing. He said he wants the community to police itself rather than have to issue a stay at home order for the city. He has already directed Louisville residents to remain indoors except for work, essential business and exercise. “That’s about as far as we can take this without the next steps being, you know, a curfew or other restrictive measures, which we really don’t want to do,” he said. “Our community should be good enough to come together to figure this out by ourselves so we’re going to give that a couple more days and see how it goes.”

The mayor also announced a new program to help small businesses with fewer than 10 employees. The small business continuity loan program will offer up to $25,000 for 12 months to businesses that have been affected by the COVID-19 emergency. The program has a $900,000 fund for the zero-interest loans. More details and how to apply are available here. —Amina Elahi

1:25 p.m.: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial distracted the federal government from paying attention to the novel coronavirus as it reached the United States in January. The Kentucky Republican told conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt on Tuesday that the deadly virus “came up while we were tied down on the impeachment trial.” McConnell said impeachment “diverted the attention of the government.” The Trump administration has been severely criticized for its slow response to the spreading pandemic, especially the shortage of coronavirus testing kits when the infection first spread to the U.S. from China. Trump initially downplayed the crisis, comparing it to the seasonal flu. —Associated Press

10:18 a.m.: The Indiana State Department of Health announced an additional 14 deaths related to the coronavirus, bringing the total up to 49 as of Tuesday. The number of confirmed cases grew by 373 to 2,159, and state health officials say 13,373 people have been tested to date.

Here’s the current confirmed cases and testing, in graph form:

And here’s a look just at confirmed cases:

8:15 a.m.: As coronavirus cases continue their surge in Kentucky, nursing home residents are particularly vulnerable. Yesterday, Gov. Andy Beshear announced the first confirmed cases in nursing homes in the state.

In Louisville, one family has been visiting their mother in a nursing home regularly…but they can’t go in. They stand outside, looking at her through the glass. Here’s more.

Monday, March 30

10:59 p.m.: Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear has signed legislation offering relief to workers and employers suffering economic damage from the coronavirus pandemic. The bill was put on the fast track by lawmakers. It comes as the state deals with rising numbers of coronavirus cases and deaths linked to the illness. The governor thanked the legislature for its quick action. Beshear said the legislation codifies many actions already taken by his administration. The measure includes relaxing access to unemployment insurance. It also prevents a business owner’s unemployment insurance rate from being impacted by layoffs due to the virus. — Associated Press

7:22 p.m.: Governor Andy Beshear issued a new executive order on Monday limiting travel from Kentucky.

Chief of Staff La Tasha Buckner said the order will not apply to residents who must leave the state for work, court, necessary supplies, or the health care needs of themselves or family members.

“The moment that you go across the border […] and you have that extra contact, you can bring it back to a person in your family that’s working in a nursing home,” Beshear said during his daily briefing.

Beshear also announced that a staff person and a resident at a Campbell County nursing home contracted COVID-19 — the first confirmed case in a Kentucky nursing home since the virus spread here. Beshear said the resident is hospitalized, and four other people at the nursing home are being tested.

The governor also announced on Monday that two more people in Kentucky have died of the coronavirus: An 88-year-old Kenton County woman and a 90-year-old woman from Simpson County. That, along with 42 new cases, brings the state’s total to 11 deaths and 480 confirmed cases of COVID-19.

Beshear said cases of coronavirus are expected to peak in Kentucky this May.

5:32 p.m.: There are now a total of 163 confirmed coronavirus cases in Jefferson County, Mayor Greg Fischer said as he continued urging Louisville residents to stay at home. He also said 32 COVID-19 patients had been discharged from the hospital, while another 35 are now without symptoms. “Everybody’s behavior should be changed by the COVID-19 world…through our actions,” he said. “Everybody please, stay home, stay home, stay home. As much as you possibly can, stay home.”

Dr. Lori Caloia, medical director at Louisville Department of Public Health and Wellness, described during the mayor’s briefing how the city will approach cases at this stage. Each person who tests positive will still undergo a dedicated case investigation, which will include lots of questions about symptoms, and the health department will continue to monitor those people. But with the number of cases increasing, she said contact tracing — the process of identifying everyone a COVID-19 patient interacted with — will be cut back.”We will be asking those individuals who are infected to notify their close contacts themselves,”  Caloia said, citing limited resources. The city will take care of this for those who are hospitalized or otherwise unable to alert their contacts themselves. She said anyone who has been exposed to someone with COVID-19 should continue with the recommendation of self-quarantining at home for 14 days, monitoring symptoms and contacting their healthcare provider. — Amina Elahi

2:41 p.m.: Arrests and citations by Louisville police have dropped following measures that limited police interactions with people amid the global pandemic.

The Louisville Metro Police Department’s weekly crime trend report found that citations the week of March 15 decreased by 56% when compared to the previous week. Arrests decreased by 39%.

The drop follows special orders issued on March 16 from LMPD Chief Steve Conrad to forward calls for non-violent offenses and hit-and-runs to the LMPD Service Center. The order is meant to limit in-person interaction between police and residents in order to limit the spread of COVID-19.

LMPD and other public safety workers in Louisville get high priority for protection from COVID-19 — they fall in the second tier for distribution of personal protective equipment behind hospitals and EMS workers.

There have been 439 people with confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Kentucky, and a third of them are in Jefferson County. Mayor Greg Fischer announced that an LMPD police officer is among 14 new cases reported in Louisville Sunday. — Kyeland Jackson

1:45 p.m.: Norton Healthcare executives said the hospital system is still adequately staffed after 45 employees have tested positive for the COVID-19 disease and about 280 others are on paid furlough after showing symptoms.

The executives would not say specifically where those employees worked. During a virtual press conference Monday, Steven Hester, Norton’s chief medical officer, said the employees worked “across the system.”

The Norton Healthcare system includes 16,000 employees at five hospitals, seven outpatient centers and more than a dozen immediate care centers and hundreds of clinics, according to information on the nonprofit’s website. Read more here.

12:11 p.m.: State health officials say three more people have died in Indiana from coronavirus-related illnesses, increasing the state’s virus death toll to 35.

The Indiana State Department of Health said Monday that Indiana’s number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 grew by 273 to 1,786. The state now has nearly seven times the number of confirmed cases as a week ago, while the number of deaths is five times greater. Two of the new deaths involved Indianapolis residents, while the other person who died was from southeastern Indiana’s Franklin County.

The state health commissioner said last week that Indiana’s peak of coronavirus illnesses is expected in mid- to late April. — Associated Press

Here’s the current confirmed cases and testing, in graph form:

And here’s a look just of confirmed cases:

 

9:45 a.m.: So far, Kentucky has tested about 6,000 people for COVID-19; as of Sunday night, 439 of those people tested positive for the coronavirus. But testing capacity is limited and per federal guidelines, only certain people even qualify. One researcher at the University of Louisville makes a case that it’s time for randomized testing: getting a large enough sample that it’s representative of the population. Here’s more.

Sunday, March 29

6:20 p.m.: Legendary songwriter John Prine has been diagnosed with coronavirus, according to a statement shared on his Twitter account.

Prine was hospitalized on Thursday, intubated on Saturday and remains in critical condition, according to the statement.

“This is hard news for us to share. But so many of you have loved and supported John over the years, we wanted to let you know, and give you the chance to send on more of that love and support now. And know that we love you, and John loves you.”

Born and raised in the Chicago area, Prine has become tightly associated with Kentucky because of his hit “Paradise,” a tribute to western Kentucky’s Muhlenberg County and struggles with the coal industry. Prine’s parents grew up in Kentucky and he grew up visiting the area.

 

Prine also recorded a version of “My Old Kentucky Home” in 2004 for the Beautiful Dreamer compilation, which won a Grammy in 2004.

Prine’s first album debuted in 1970 and he has released 13 albums total. His most recent, Tree of Forgiveness, was released in 2018.

Earlier this year, Prine canceled several international shows due to a hip injury. 

6 p.m.: Gov. Andy Beshear says there were 45 new cases of coronavirus in Kentucky, bringing the state’s total to 439.

During an evening update Sunday, Beshear reported no new deaths associated with the disease, which has killed nine in Kentucky so far. The daily increase of cases is less than half of the increase reported yesterday which was the largest to date at 92 but Beshear said that the state and country are escalating right now.

“It’s going to continue. There are going to be days where we have more positive tests than we did yesterday, when we had ninety-something,” Beshear said.

Read more on Sunday’s briefing.

4:30 p.m.: Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer said that there are now 140 positive cases of coronavirus in the city, an increase of 14 since Saturday, though he said that “significantly understates” the total number of people infected because of a lack of testing.

“We’re not seeing the kind of explosion of new cases that’s happening in New York and other parts of the country because we’re not testing as much,” Fischer said during a video press conference Sunday afternoon.

“Hopefully the strategies that we’ve been employing at the state level and the city level and the personal level have been working.”

As of Saturday evening, there were 394 coronavirus cases across the entire state with more than 5,500 people tested.

In recent weeks, Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear has issued several orders restricting in-person traffic from non-essential businesses, schools and government buildings and has strongly advised against people gathering in groups to help prevent spread of the disease.

Fischer criticized people who flouted “social distancing” guidelines in Louisville over the weekend, including reports of people going to parties, drag racing and golfing.
Fischer said he would have to order the closure of public golf courses if people don’t properly distance themselves from others.

Basketball hoops and tennis nets have already been removed from public parks across the city.

“We’ve allowed golf courses to remain in operation because golf’s one of the few sports in which you can play and maintain six feet of separation,” Fischer said. “Please don’t put me in a position of having to shut our golf courses down too.”

Fischer also announced that an LMPD officer has tested positive and is being treated at a hospital. — Ryland Barton

4 p.m.: Kentucky will receive about $1.7 billion from from the federal government as part of the coronavirus relief bill signed into law on Friday, according to the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities.

State government will receive about $1.6 billion and Louisville will receive an additional $134 million under a provision that gives extra funding to cities with populations over 500,000. It’s the only city in the state big enough to qualify. Read more.

11 a.m.: Meal sites have been offering service each weekday. But starting Monday, Mar. 30, they will go down to three days a week to reduce contact between staff and families.

Sites will be open Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. On Monday and Wednesday, students can take extra meals to get through the off days in between. Read more on this and plans for remote instruction here.

Saturday, March 28

9:41 p.m.: NPR is reporting that a census worker at the Jeffersonville, Indiana field office has tested positive for COVID-19.

NPR has learned an employee at the site has tested positive for COVID-19. The bureau found out about the diagnosis on Friday, and the employee, who is now in quarantine, has not been at the facilities since March 17, Michael Cook, a spokesperson for the bureau, confirmed.

“We strongly encourage all employees to practice ‘social distancing’ to slow the spread of this coronavirus,” the bureau said in a message distributed to employees at the agency’s National Processing Center.

The building where the employee worked in Jeffersonville — which is located across the river from Louisville, Ky. — will receive a “deep cleaning,” according to the message, and employees have been advised not to enter it “until further notice.” Cook says “out of an abundance of caution,” the bureau canceled overtime work in Jeffersonville that was scheduled this weekend for the 2020 census.

Here’s more.

6:51 p.m.: Paula McCraney, the Metro Council representative for District 7, found out Saturday she tested positive for COVID-19, making her the first Louisville lawmaker confirmed to have the coronavirus.

Council President David James (D-6), speaking on her behalf, said McCraney is hospitalized but recovering. He said she had been in self-quarantine for the past two weeks after believing she may have been exposed to coronavirus at an event. Here’s more.

5:13 p.m.: Gov. Andy Beshear announced there are 92 new confirmed cases of coronavirus in Kentucky, the largest single-day increase to date. That brings the state’s total to 394, with more than 5,500 people tested. Of the new cases, 23 are in Jefferson County for a total of 126. He said there were no new deaths related to COVID-19 to report today, but right after his news conference, the Northern Kentucky Health Department announced its first death: a Kenton County resident. — Amina Elahi

3:50 p.m.: GE Appliances is coming off a one-week shutdown at the company’s plant in Louisville, and workers protested going back to work at the site today. A big crowd of members of the local union (IUE-CWA Local 8376) drove cars and honked this afternoon, demanding the company continue the shutdown to protect workers’ health amidst the pandemic.

“While being ordered to go back to work on Monday, the company has no plan in place for workers needing to take care of children or family at home due to the shut downs, as well as plans for workers who need to be out for extended periods of time due to illness,” the union said in a press release.

Amina Elahi
Amina Elahi | wfpl.org
Amina Elahi | wfpl.org

12:25 p.m.: 21c Museum Hotels is temporarily closing all nine of its properties, including those in Louisville, Lexington and Cincinnati. In an email, founder Steve Wilson said the hotels, restaurants and art galleries would open as soon as it’s safe to do so.

“This is a day none of us could have imagined a month ago, and although it is heartbreaking in many ways, we know this is the best decision for the health and welfare of our guests, our teams and our communities,” Wilson wrote. “Temporarily closing our properties is the most important thing we can do to help slow the spread of Covid-19.”

11:18 a.m.: Indiana is now reporting 1,231 Hoosiers have tested positive for COVID-19. Thirty-one people in the state have died as a result of the virus.

9:00 a.m.: As of this morning, Indiana is reporting about three times as many people with positive coronavirus tests than Kentucky; the state’s population is about 1.5 times larger than Kentucky. Testing, however, is ramping up at both states. Here’s what that looks like:

But without the testing date, you can see the trajectory both state’s curves are taking:

This analysis from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, a global health research center at the University of Washington, suggests Kentucky is showing some success in flattening the curve; it shows the outbreak will peak on April 29, and 585 people will die of COVID-19 in the commonwealth by August 4.

But in Indiana, the curve rises much more sharply. The analysis finds the state is facing a 1,973 hospital bed shortage. The virus will peak sooner — on April 14 — but in total 2,440 Hoosiers will die by August 4. Here’s the methodology researchers used.

Friday, March 27

7:00 p.m.: Gov. Andy Beshear said there are three new deaths related to coronavirus in Kentucky. During his 5:00 press briefing Friday Beshear announced the deaths of two people: one, a 75-year-old woman tested in Fayette County, and a 77-year-old man tested in Hopkins County. Later in the evening, Beshear tweeted about a third person who died from the illness:

During his press briefing earlier in the evening, Beshear announced 54 new confirmed cases of coronavirus in Kentucky, bringing the state’s total to 302. The governor urged Kentuckians living near the state’s southern border not to travel into Tennessee, where he said some bars and restaurants may still be open.

“I need you to not go to Tennessee for anything other than work, or helping a loved one, or maybe to the grocery,” Beshear said. “I cannot control that Tennessee has not taken the steps that we have,” Beshear said.

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee ordered all bars and restaurants to close to in-person traffic for two weeks, starting Monday Mar. 23, a week after similar measures were taken in Kentucky.

As of Friday, Tennessee had more than 1,200 confirmed cases and six deaths, with higher concentrations of cases in counties bordering Kentucky. — Jess Clark

5:00 p.m.: President Trump has signed a $2 trillion coronavirus relief package into law. Here’s more from NPR.

4:57 p.m.: Thousands of inmates held in county jails have been released since the Kentucky Supreme Court Chief Justice issued an order last week effectively closing the courts, according to data provided by the Kentucky Department of Public Advocacy.

The order to close the courts came in response to the spreading COVID-19 disease. In response to the order, the state’s public advocate, Damon Preston, called for defendants held on cash bail be released. On Friday, Preston praised his department’s efforts to secure the release of more than 3,200 inmates from county jails — marking a 28 percent reduction in the state’s county jail population.

Most of these inmates were on pretrial detainment or serving sentences for misdemeanor crimes, according to Preston. Here’s more.

4:15 p.m.: State officials shared new numbers on how many supplies they’ve gotten from the Strategic National Stockpile operated by the federal government. It’s not enough.

3:08 p.m.: State health officials say Indiana’s coronavirus cases have surged by more than 300 to nearly 1,000 statewide as seven more deaths were reported, bringing the state’s death toll to 24 amid the pandemic. The Indiana State Department of Health said Friday that the state’s number of confirmed case of COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, grew by 338 to 981 across Indiana, following corrections to the previous day’s total. State officials insisted Thursday that Hoosiers abide by Gov. Eric Holcomb’s stay-at-home order to rein in the coronavirus’ spread and not take advantage of its travel and work exemptions. Holcomb’s order took effect Wednesday. — Associated Press

12:55 p.m.: The Omni Louisville Hotel has closed temporarily, according to a statement from Peter Strebel, the president of Omni Hotels & Resorts. Strebel said the intent is to “reopen the hotel as quickly as possible,” but as of now, the hotel is closed through June 1, 2020. The hotel is “working diligently to minimize the impact” for employees, according to the statement, though Strebel did not provide specifics on how they would do so. According to a 2015 WFPL story, almost half of the funding to build the Omni came from city and state sources. — Eleanor Klibanoff

10:42 a.m.: Indiana has updated its statewide numbers for the day; there are 981 people in the state who have tested positive for COVID-19. That’s an increase of 336 over yesterday’s numbers. Twenty-four people have died from the virus; 7 since yesterday.

10:09 a.m.: President Donald Trump took to Twitter to publicly disparage Kentucky’s 4th district Congressman Thomas Massie, who has been threatening to delay a vote on a massive coronavirus relief package.

“Looks like a third rate Grandstander named @RepThomasMassie, a Congressman from, unfortunately, a truly GREAT State, Kentucky, wants to vote against the new Save Our Workers Bill in Congress. He just wants the publicity. He can’t stop it, only delay, which is both dangerous & costly,” Trump tweeted.

“Workers & small businesses need money now in order to survive. Virus wasn’t their fault. It is ‘HELL’ dealing with the Dems, had to give up some stupid things in order to get the “big picture” done. 90% GREAT! WIN BACK HOUSE, but throw Massie out of Republican Party!”

Massie has publicly signaled he doesn’t approve the coronavirus bailout, expressing worries about its $2 trillion price tag and amount it would add to the national debt.

The House is scheduled to vote on the bailout today. Lawmakers initially hoped to approve the bill by voice vote — a method that would allow most members to stay at home amid the pandemic.

But Massie has threatened to raise an objection to the vote if a majority of House members don’t show up, which would delay the vote further.

Massie is a Republican from Lewis County in northern Kentucky. He is running for reelection this year and has a primary opponent: Todd McMurtry, an attorney who represented students at the center of the Covington Catholic High School controversy. — Ryland Barton

8:28 a.m.: And you thought your last move was tough. What was it like to move across the country in the midst of a pandemic? WFPL’s new Arts Reporter Stephanie Wolf says it involved a lot of disinfectant.

Here’s where the numbers stand as of this morning:

 

 

Thursday, March 26

8:46 p.m.: The Kentucky legislature has passed an emergency bill to expand unemployment benefits, allow the governor to waive several business and tax fees and expand telehealth services during the coronavirus pandemic.

The measure also requires Gov. Andy Beshear to declare in writing when he decides to end Kentucky’s current state of emergency. If he has not done so by the start of the next legislative session, the measure allows the the legislature to end it.

The chief purpose of the bill is to provide relief to Kentucky workers and businesses bruised by the pandemic and ensuing restrictions that have closed down much of the state. Lawmakers also hope the measure will help prop up the state’s economy. By one estimate Kentucky could lose 67,000 jobs by June.

Here is some of what the bill will do:

  • Extend unemployment benefits to self-employed workers and contractors, who were previously ineligible. Full-time workers who are knocked down to part-time would be eligible for unemployment as well.
  • Waive the seven-day waiting period before a laid off worker can apply for unemployment and expand the look-back period for determining benefits.
  • Allow restaurants to sell liquor by the drink with food takeout orders and sell grocery items to customers.
  • Allow Gov. Beshear to waive several business fees and penalties. It extends the tax filing deadline to July 15, in conformity with the federal government.
  • Ease privacy rules for health care providers, allowing them to be able to contact patients remotely instead of in person.
  • Allow agencies and local governments to use conference call and video to conduct open meetings. It also extends the deadline an agency has to respond to an open records request from three to 10 days.

— Ryland Barton

6:37 p.m.: Kentucky recorded its largest jump in new positive coronavirus cases on Thursday, Gov. Andy Beshear announced.

Beshear said the state now has at least 248 cases of the COVID-19 disease, that’s 50 new cases since the day before. He expects the total number of cases to surge in the next two to three weeks, but said he has no projections about the overall total number of people that will ultimately be infected.

As is common during the governor’s regular evening coronavirus briefings, he urged Kentuckians to practice social distancing and stay home, both efforts to help stem the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. He did not announce any new orders on Thursday, but warned people about gathering in public parks, playgrounds and campgrounds. County and city officials will be monitoring such areas, Beshear said, and will be shutting down public places if people continue to congregate.

Beshear expressed some disappointment that the state had not yet begun any drive-thru testing and said he expects to do so in the coming days. 

State officials have spent about $8 million in the plight to tamp down the spreading virus, Beshear said. He said hundreds of people are working on efforts to obtain personal protective equipment, or PPE, for frontline health workers and first responders, but supplies are running thin.

“It is an ongoing, daily process,” he said.

Beshear said no state inmates have tested positive, but one off-site correctional staff member did.

He encouraged state lawmakers to give him the flexibility to issue restrictive orders and spend public money to fight the virus. That, he said, is critical.

“We need the flexibility to move very fast,” Beshear said. “There are no Democrats or Republicans, there is only Americans versus the coronavirus.”

Though Beshear said during his briefing that there was also a 90-year-old man in Perry County who was living in a nursing home who tested positive, he later said in a tweet that the man had eventually tested negative for the virus. — Jake Ryan

3:26 p.m.: Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer says there are now 60 people with confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Jefferson County. Two days ago, there were 31. The city is taking additional action to try to limit social gatherings, including removing the rims and nets from city basketball courts and locking up soccer goals.

“To adults out there and everybody that has still not fully accepted the seriousness of this crisis, I would just say that it’s one thing to risk your own life and your own health, but this is a deadly and contagious disease,” Fischer said.

2:50 p.m.: Fort Campbell is reporting its first positive case of the coronavirus. The infected individual is a dependent of a military retiree at Fort Campbell, and is currently isolated at their home, which is outside the army post. Officials with Blanchfield Army Community Hospital are working to determine whether anyone else may have been exposed. While this is the first known case of COVID-19 at Fort Campbell, there are more than 200 tests pending. — Lisa Autry, WKU Public Radio

11:24 a.m.: Kentucky Attorney General on Thursday sent subpoenas to six third-party online retailers suspected of price gouging during the COVID-19 pandemic. The attorney general announced the enforcement in a press release issued Thursday morning.

The retailers are accused of using Amazon’s online platform to sell emergency and medical supplies at sharply inflated prices, according to the release.

Attorney General Daniel Cameron said Amazon assisted his office in identifying the retailers. At least three were issued cease and desist orders as investigations continue.

The state’s attorney general had received 860 complaints of price gouging as of Monday. The current state issued order prohibiting the practice is the first since 2008 that’s not related to severe weather. — Jacob Ryan

10:22 a.m.: Federal unemployment data show a massive jump in claims in Kentucky and across the country last week. Unemployment claims in Kentucky numbered 48,847 for the week ending on March 21. Jobless claims the previous week were at 2,785.

These numbers will likely rise again, as the reporting period ended before the governor’s order closing all non-life sustaining businesses.

The Department of Labor is reporting almost 3.3 million unemployment claims filed nationwide during the same time period.

Here’s how to file for unemployment claims in Kentucky. Yesterday, Gov. Andy Beshear announced these benefits have been expanded to cover more people, including independent contractors and small businesses. — Jared Bennett

10:07 a.m.: Indiana is reporting an additional 168 people with positive COVID-19 tests this morning, bringing the state’s total to 645. Seventeen people have died from the virus.

8:36 a.m.: Both Kentucky and Indiana announced increases in people with confirmed COVID-19 testing yesterday, as testing ramps up. Here’s what the count looks like in both states as of this morning:

 

Indiana is reporting nearly three times as many deaths from COVID-19 as Kentucky; here’s what those numbers look like:

 

Wednesday, March 25

7:43 p.m.: The full Kentucky legislature will return to work tomorrow even though the general public has been barred from the Capitol during the coronavirus pandemic, and despite warnings about group gatherings spreading the disease.

Nine committees are scheduled to hear bills ranging from a measure expanding the attorney general’s power to enforce abortion regulations, to a bill allowing home delivery of alcohol.

Gov. Andy Beshear has called on lawmakers to quickly pass a budget and coronavirus-related bills, and today criticized them for taking up measures that might get people “worked up.”

“In the midst of a worldwide pandemic and statewide emergency in Kentucky, they need to pass a budget and go home,” Beshear said.

So far the legislature has ignored Beshear’s request while access to the Capitol is restricted to only lawmakers, essential staff and reporters. — Ryland Barton

6:35 p.m.: Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear says the next two weeks are crucial in determining how far and how fast the coronavirus spreads in Kentucky. He called on Kentuckians to cut contacts with other people as much as possible to protect the state’s most vulnerable residents.

Beshear announced a fifth person has died from the virus in Kentucky; a 75-year-old man in Jefferson County.

In the next couple of days, he said additional law enforcement and the Kentucky National Guard will begin providing additional services at hospitals. The governor emphasized the National Guard will not be deployed to patrol neighborhoods, but to keep hospitals safe.

Unemployment benefits have been expanded to cover independent contractors, small businesses, workers in the gig economy, cosmetologists and other groups who have been affected by the state’s orders to cease business operations.

The state plans to open in its first drive-thru testing site next week, though Beshear said it will be for specific groups only, and will serve as a proof-of-concept for future testing sites.

Beshear also issued an executive order suspending evictions in the Commonwealth.

4:29 p.m.:  A Republican state representative has filed a measure that would allow people and businesses to sue the governor if they feel emergency restrictions are unnecessary, too broad or last too long.

The legislation comes after Gov. Andy Beshear, a Democrat, has ordered many businesses across the state to be shut down or closed to in-person traffic during the coronavirus pandemic.

Rep. Savannah Maddox, a Republican from Dry Ridge and the measure’s sponsor, said in an email that it would protect Kentucky workers and business owners from government overreach.

“Although the amendment does not interfere with the executive branch’s ability to issue executive orders pertaining to a state of emergency, it provides due remedy of law through a system of checks and balances designed to keep our government accountable for any action which is determined in a court of law to infringe upon civil liberty or unnecessarily restrict commerce,” Maddox wrote.

“My purpose in filing this amendment was not to criticize or undermine the Governor’s efforts, rather to ensure that any use of government force is appropriately balanced with the consent of the governed in accordance with our Constitutional rights.”

Here’s more.

1:17 p.m.: Gov. Andy Beshear on Wednesday issued an executive order suspending the execution of eviction orders across Kentucky.

The move comes as the state struggles to stop the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. Businesses and schools have closed and the governor has said in recent weeks that evictions should also cease.

But until now he’s yet to take formal action mandating such.

The governor’s order comes more than a week after the Kentucky Supreme Court Chief Justice issued an order postponing all eviction court cases. A Jefferson District Court judge followed suit and issued a separate order instructing the county sheriff from executing orders that had already made it through the court system.

In 2016, there were nearly 13,000 evictions in Kentucky, according to data compiled by Princeton University’s Eviction Lab. About a third of all households in the state rent, according to the data.

Beshear’s order does not relieve residents from their requirement to make rent or mortgage payments.

Wednesday’s order also lists a broad range of businesses that are considered “life-sustaining,” which are the only businesses presently allowed to operate. Those businesses include banks, gas stations, some professional services and more. — Jacob Ryan

11:12 a.m.: Later this afternoon, law enforcement officers will be stationed outside hospitals in Jefferson County, according to Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer’s spokeswoman Jean Porter.

“Governor Beshear earlier this week asked law enforcement and the National Guard in the state to have a presence at hospitals across the state, in preparation for them to get busier in coming days,” she said in an emailed statement. “Starting this afternoon, Louisville Metro Police and other local law enforcement officers will be stationed outside hospitals in Jefferson County.”

10:12 a.m.: Indiana now has 477 people with confirmed cases of COVID-19; that’s 112 additional positive tests since yesterday. Fourteen people have died from the virus in the state.

9:00 a.m.: The coronavirus pandemic has millions of children out of school across the country, and the world. Parents are stressed, and kids are too. But they’re finding ways to make it work. Listen to how a nine-year-old sees the situation here; we’ll also discuss how the pandemic is affecting children, youth and families on a special episode of In Conversation today at noon. You can listen here or on 89.3 FM.

Tuesday, March 24

6:25 p.m.: Gov. Andy Beshear announced that all non-life sustaining businesses in Kentucky will close to in-person traffic on Thursday. He said an executive order enforcing the closure will go into effect at 8 p.m that day.

Details specifying what businesses are life-sustaining will be released tomorrow, but Beshear said grocery stores, pharmacies, banks and gas stations are among those that will remain open.

The order is one of many that have temporarily shuttered some Kentucky businesses. Beshear ordered non-essential retail stores to close their doors to in-person business on March 23. An earlier order closed “public-facing” businesses like gyms and hair salons. Restaurants can continue to offer take-out, delivery or curbside service but dining rooms remain closed.

Beshear said the state is putting lives ahead of the economy — and residents must prepare to wait “however long it takes” before business and life returns to normal.

Thirty-nine new cases of coronavirus in Kentucky were confirmed today, marking the sharpest increase in cases across the commonwealth and bringing the total number of confirmed cases in the state to 163. Beshear said he believes four people have fully recovered, and four people have died as a result of COVID-19 in Kentucky. — Kyeland Jackson

4:41 p.m.: Mayor Greg Fischer has signed an executive order, extending Louisville Metro’s state of emergency through May 10. In an update Tuesday afternoon, Fischer said in addition to the extension, he’s closing additional facilities.

Effective today at 5 p.m., the following goes into effect:

  • All Metro Park playgrounds, soccer fields and basketball courts are closed;
  • All portable toilets in the parks will be closed and removed;
  • The campgrounds at Jefferson Memorial Forest will be closed;
  • All dog parks for dogs to run without leashes are closed.

Fischer said that group activities like soccer, basketball, tennis, pickleball or “any activity that promotes congregation” in parks are strongly discouraged. He said Metro Parks will continue to clean all open, permanent restrooms, pick up trash and mow grass. Golf courses will stay open, as long as they are abiding by the clubhouse coronavirus protocol.

Fischer says there are now 34 people with positive tests for coronavirus in Jefferson County; one is a Louisville fire fighter. He says some fire fighters will be quarantined as a result. — Erica Peterson

4:22 p.m.: Some employees at Chewy and Spectrum’s Louisville-based call centers will be allowed to work from home, in an effort to create social distance between the remaining employees.

Both companies have been the subject of complaints filed to city health officials, and scrutiny in the media, including KyCIR. Here’s more.

3:59 p.m.: A team of researchers including a mathematician from the University of Louisville are poring over the numbers trying to estimate how far the coronavirus will spread in states like Kentucky.

“If you know what is the worst case, what is the best case, then you know how to prepare for it,” said Dan Han, University of Louisville associate professor with a doctorate in applied mathematics.

As of Wednesday, 124 people have tested positive for COVID-19 in Kentucky with 32 of those cases coming from Jefferson County. Here are Han’s estimations for the next month:

Jefferson County

  • 7 days: 68
  • 15 days: 107
  • 30 days: 232

Kentucky

  • 7 days: 394
  • 15 days: 635
  • 30 days: 1,354

The researchers’ model assumed that the number of confirmed cases in Kentucky will peak after 150 days: on Thursday, August 20.

Here’s more about how Han built the model, and what we still don’t know about how it will work.

3:00 p.m.: Louisville city officials announced today that a firefighter has tested positive for the coronavirus.

According to a press release, the firefighter wasn’t symptomatic during his last shift on Friday, but began displaying symptoms at home on Sunday. The firefighter was tested Monday due to his job as a first responder, according to the release. The firefighter is self-isolating in his home.

City officials noted that each firefighter has vitals checked three times during a 24-hour shift, and anyone with a fever of more than 100 degrees, or other symptoms, is sent home.  —  Kate Howard

2:15 p.m.: Cancelled rooms and events in response to the spreading coronavirus are now estimated to have caused $94.6 million in losses for Louisville’s tourism industry.

Business leaders and tourism officials discussed the growing impact of the coronavirus in a conference call Tuesday morning. Some pitched ideas to mitigate the financial impact of the virus. Others proposed events that bring business back after the virus runs its course.

Zack Davis, the Vice President of Destination Services for Louisville Tourism, said they expect area hotels to have single-digit occupancy rates from April through June. Louisville Tourism is going to encourage more collaboration between businesses and will plan advertising leading up to when things return to normal so that they can bring in a lot of business immediately, Davis said.

Louisville Tourism President and CEO Karen Williams last provided an update on the economic impact of the coronavirus on March 12, saying that cancelled events at that point had cost the city $57.6 million. Some Airbnb businesses have lost big because of the virus, with one manager in Louisville losing around $200,000 within a week. — Kyeland Jackson

1:23 p.m.: A new data-driven analysis of how well states are doing with social distancing gives both Kentucky and Indiana a “B” grade.

The interactive tool by tech company Unacast uses smart phone data to detect how far people are traveling. It then calculates changes in the distance traveled.

Unacast’s data shows that in both Indiana and Kentucky, residents have reduced their average distance traveled by 34 percent. Jefferson County did even better, reducing average distance traveled by 42 percent.

In a blog post, Unacast CEO Thomas Walle wrote the company intends to make several data tools available to help experts deal with the ongoing pandemic.

“The first toolkit element, live today, is a new Social Distancing Scoreboard, which we are making available to help raise awareness of and reinforce the importance of social distancing,” Walle wrote. “We also believe it will not only help make sense of what’s happening now, but unearth trends that will help project scenarios in the short- and mid-term future.”

12:15 p.m.: The Kentucky Attorney General’s Office is “all hands on deck” to investigate more than 800 price-gouging complaints so far. But the office hasn’t released any details yet on the complaints. Read the whole story here.

11:12 a.m.: The weeks of standardized tests Kentucky schools spend all year preparing are being canceled. The Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) says the federal government will grant the state’s request to cancel testing for the 2019-2020 school year because of closures and other challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic.

“The Kentucky Department of Education has been informed by the U.S. Department of Education that we meet the requirements for the waiver of assessment & accountability for the 2019-20 school year and that formal approval is forthcoming. As a result, we are canceling the administration of 2020 K-PREP,” KDE spokeswoman Toni Konz Tatman wrote in an emailed statement.

The federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) requires all states to carry out standardized testing in public schools to determine how well schools are serving students and teaching them important skills and concepts. Kentucky’s tests are called K-PREP, and students’ scores determine the rating each school gets on the state’s new 5-star rating system. Schools with low ratings can face consequences from the state, like changes in staffing and management takeovers. — Jess Clark

11:05 a.m.:

J. Tyler Franklin | wfpl.org

 

 

 

 

Gov. Andy Beshear announced on Sunday that non-essential retail stores would have to close their doors by Monday at 8 p.m. Gun stores aren’t included in that; although Beshear’s order doesn’t categorize gun stores as either “life-sustaining” or “not life-sustaining” businesses, the order does contain language that it should not “interfere with the lawful sale of firearms and ammunition” as long as they observe social distancing and hygiene guidelines.

On Monday, Biff’s Gun World (pictured above) maintained a steady flow of customer traffic, reflecting a boom in firearm and ammunition sales seen nationally since the coronavirus outbreak.  — J. Tyler Franklin

10:49 a.m.: Indiana is reporting a sharp increase in the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the state since yesterday. There are 106 additional people who have tested positive for COVID-19 since the numbers were updated yesterday; this brings the state’s total to 365 positive cases. Twelve people have died from the virus.

10:42 a.m.: Amazon has temporarily closed a Kentucky warehouse after an unspecified number of workers tested positive for the coronavirus.

The online retailer said Tuesday that the warehouse at Shepherdsville was undergoing “additional sanitization.” Amazon says it is supporting the “individuals who are now in quarantine and recovering.” The company says it is following all guidelines from local officials and is taking “extreme measures” to ensure the safety of employees at the site.

The company did not specify how many employees have been infected with the virus. — Associated Press

10:00 a.m.: The Tokyo Summer Olympics will be postponed a year, officials announced this morning. Here’s the latest from NPR.

Monday, March 23

6:50 p.m.: Governor Andy Beshear announced the establishment of a Team Kentucky Fund. The fund will be overseen by the Kentucky Public Protection Cabinet and will provide financial assistance to Kentuckians who have lost income related to the coronavirus.

At his 5:00 p.m. briefing on Monday, the governor also said people can now call a hotline to report employers or other groups not following state orders or CDC guidelines. The number is 1-833-KYSAFER (1-833-597-2337). The line will be answered from 7:30 a.m. until 9 p.m., but callers can leave a message if they call outside business hours.

6:50 p.m.: Mayor Greg Fischer announced that the One Louisville Fund has now raised $5.6 million to help organizations with their immediate operational needs, and to help people and families in financial distress. The mayor also announced that people can now call 311 to report business and groups of people not complying with social distancing guidelines.

Kentuckiana Works and Greater Louisville, Inc. have partnered on a job board to list employers that are still hiring.

5:45 p.m.: Louisville health officials have received 114 complaints about businesses since the state of emergency was declared, many alleging restaurants were still allowing dine-in service and businesses require workers to stay in close quarters. More here.

12:38 p.m.: Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb has issued a “Stay at home” order, calling on all those in Indiana to stay at home unless absolutely necessary. The order begins Wednesday, Mar. 25 and runs through April 7.

Holcomb says the order, “calls on all Hoosiers to hunker down, stay at home. Unless you’re going out on an essential errand, essential work or essential business.”

Holcomb also announced an order closing all state government offices to in-person activity until April 7. He says state-issued licenses will be automatically extended.

Indiana’s number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 rose to 259 on Monday. Seven people have died from the virus in the state, according to Indiana’s official count.

“Make no mistake, this disease is killing people. Time is of the essence,” Holcomb said during a speech Monday.

Holcomb also said 54,000 people filed for unemployment last week alone. — Jess Clark

11 a.m.: A Louisville man is under court-ordered home isolation after testing positive for the COVID-19 disease.

The man, identified in court records as W.N., refused to comply with directions from the Louisville Metro Department of Public Health and Wellness to self-isolate and went shopping on Saturday, according to court records.

Because of that, Jefferson District Judge Angela McCormick Bisig signed an order mandating the man to remain in his residence until April 4.

This is the second known case of forced isolation in Kentucky as the COVID-19 pandemic spreads across the world. The Courier-Journal first reported the case of the Louisville man on Sunday. People who test positive for the case are encouraged to isolate themselves from others to avoid spreading the disease.

The Louisville man is wearing a home monitoring ankle-bracelet and is under supervision of the Louisville Metro Department of Corrections, according to Jefferson County Sheriff Lt. Col. Carl Yates. The sheriff’s department served the order, and has the power to arrest the man if he violates the home isolation order.

The order can be extended, if necessary, after the mandated 14 day period expires.

8:55 a.m.: Indiana officials announced 76 new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday, bringing the number of cases statewide to 201. From the Associated Press:

State officials say two more people in Indiana have died from the coronavirus, bringing the total number of deaths statewide to six. The total number of COVID-19 cases statewide is 201. The 76 newest cases announced Sunday have been reported in 22 counties. The highest number was in Marion County, which is reporting 35 new cases. After that there were eight new cases in Hamilton County. Gov. Eric Holcomb has delayed Indiana’s May 5 primary election until June 2. But he’s holding off on ordering residents to stay home as governors elsewhere, including Illinois, have done.

Sunday, March 22

5:29 p.m.:  Gov. Andy Beshear announced Sunday that all non-essential retail businesses will have to close by Monday at 8 p.m. He said that will not include grocery stores, liquor stores, pharmacies or gas stations, but will require clothing stores, sporting good stores, florists, book stores and similar businesses to close. He also announced that healthcare providers will be required to stop elective procedures; this had previously been a recommendation, but Beshear said non-compliance on the part of some healthcare providers required this to become an order. — Eleanor Klibanoff

4:40 p.m.: Mayor Fischer asked everyone to stand on their porches and ring bells or bang pots or pans as part of what he’s calling Stand in Solidarity tonight at 7 p.m. Think of it as a way to vent frustration at our need to stay at home because of the coronavirus, Fischer said. He also announced the Big 4 Bridge will be lit in green as a symbol of compassion and urged everyone to fly a U.S. flag as a symbol of patriotism and hope. —Mike Edgerly

4:25 p.m.: There have been no confirmed cases of COVID-19 among Louisville’s homeless population, according to Vincent James, chief of Louisville’s Community Building. James said steps will be taken starting Monday to provide additional shelter space for unsheltered people who may need isolation or quarantine. During his Sunday afternoon briefing Mayor Greg Fischer said he is aware some people are still congregating and some ‘public facing’ businesses have not closed. Starting Monday citizens can report businesses who are not complying with the order by using the 311 line.  —Mike Edgerly

1:46 p.m.: Kentucky Senator Rand Paul has tested positive for COVID-19 from the new coronavirus, according to a statement. He is in quarantine, but is asymptomatic and was tested “out of an abundance of caution due to his extensive travel and events.”

Paul will continue to work for the people of Kentucky at this difficult time, according to the statement. On March 7th, Paul attended the Speed Ball in Louisville; three attendees later tested positive for coronavirus. — Eleanor Klibanoff

Saturday, March 21

6:30 p.m: A third person in Kentucky has died from coronavirus. In his nightly press conference Saturday, Governor Andy Beshear said a 67-year-old man from Anderson County died from COVID-19. Beshear said he’s lighting up the governor’s mansion green in honor of the deceased.

“Green is the color of compassion, it’s a color of empathy, it’s also a color of renewal,” he said.

The governor said the state has now confirmed 87 cases the virus, with new cases in many parts of the state, including Jefferson County, Fayette County, Warren, and counties that are served by the Green River Health Department.

Beshear said with more labs coming online that are not run by the state health department, he’s not sure how many total people have been tested. However he believes it, “significantly exceeds 1,000.”

He also encouraged small businesses effected by the COVID-19 pandemic to apply for relief from the federal Small Business Association. Businesses who believe they are impacted may be eligible for low-interest loans from the federal government. You can apply here. Or call 1-800-659-2955.

Friday, March 20

6:30 p.m.: Jefferson County Public Schools Superintendent Marty Pollio announced Friday that the district would go to distance learning starting April 7th after spring break. The district is working on a plan to get internet access and laptops to students who otherwise would not be able to participate in online learning. Pollio said they’re working on a way to get 25,000 chromebooks distributed to students who qualify for free and reduced lunch. He also made a promise that all students in the class of 2020 would have commencement ceremonies whenever it was safe to do so. Eleanor Klibanoff

6:15 p.m.: Businesses who have received loans from Louisville Metro government can now seek to have payments deferred for up to three months, under a plan approved Friday by the Metropolitan Business Development Corporation board of directors.

6:00 p.m.: Gov. Andy Beshear announced Kentucky is up to 63 positive coronavirus cases, though he said that number could change as additional information becomes available from the lab. The new cases are in Henderson, Jefferson, Warren, Pulaski, Calloway and Fayette counties.

Beshear announced new changes: he has asked Kentucky superintendents to keep schools closed through at least April 20, and said the state’s tax deadline would be extended to July 15, to align with the new federal deadline. He also announced that the state’s bourbon distillers would be helping by making hand sanitizer. Beshear asked anyone with access to personal protective equipment — particularly respirators — to reach out to the state. He alluded to forthcoming changes, including access to unemployment for independent contractors and setting up a hotline for people whose employers are not complying with CDC guidelines. Eleanor Klibanoff

5:30 p.m.: There are 8 new coronavirus cases in Jefferson County, bringing the total to 25, Mayor Greg Fischer said. He took a serious tone as he encouraged residents to take precautions to help slow the spread of the virus.

“We do have to start preparing ourselves for the increase in the number of cases and also potential deaths that can come with that. People are aware that they’re saying there could be two million deaths in the United States. If there’s two million deaths in the United States, and we get our share of deaths here in Louisville, that could equate to thousands of our fellow citizens,” he said on a call with media.

He said Louisvillians need to get ready for an expected surge in cases, but could not say when that surge would arrive. For now, the three local hospital systems currently have the capacity to administer tests, said the city’s chief health strategist Dr. Sarah Moyer. Hospitals prioritize patients for testing based on the severity of their symptoms; their age or underlying medical conditions; and whether they are health care workers or have a travel history that includes coronavirus hotspots.

She said Metro is working closely with the hospitals to set up logistics to allow for drive-thru testing, which has in recent days become available in Lexington and Floyd County, Ind., which may happen if labs expand their criteria for testing beyond the sickest patients, or if hospitals are overwhelmed. Experts say widespread testing through means such as drive-thru testing would allow for a better understanding of how many cases are actually in the state. Amina Elahi

4:15 p.m.: The Kentucky Education and Workforce Development Cabinet has released a new schedule for applying for unemployment insurance.

If you are planning on applying for unemployment insurance, the cabinet is asking that you apply on the day corresponding with the first letter of your last name. You can apply at the Kentucky Career Center’s unemployment benefits page at https://kcc.ky.gov/career or call 502-875-0442.

Here is the schedule:

Sunday: A-D
Monday: E-H
Tuesday: I-L
Wednesday: M-P
Thursday: Q-U
Friday: V-Z and if you missed your day.

Deputy Secretary for the Cabinet for Education and Workforce Development Josh Benton said the schedule is meant to ease the burden on the application system. -Jared Bennett

3:20 p.m.: The Kentucky Department of Education plans to ask the U.S. Department of Education for permission to skip accountability testing in light of the coronavirus. U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said in a statement today that the feds will “grant a waiver to any state that is unable to assess its students due to the ongoing national emergency.” KDE spokesperson Toni Konz Tatman said the department plans to request the waiver on Monday, and has “every reason to believe” it will be granted. Eleanor Klibanoff

3:00 p.m.: Coronavirus testing in Kentucky is still reserved for those who need it the most.

Until the test becomes more widely available, doctors are following federal guidelines that prioritize people who have been hospitalized, those with the worst symptoms and those who are at highest risk of mortality.

“If you’ve got a very sick person in the [Intensive Care Unit], they are going to get their test, yes, within 24 hours,” said Dr. Forest Arnold, University of Louisville Hospital epidemiologist. “But if you’ve got somebody who’s not, or maybe they came and left and are at home they may not have their test for several days if at all.”

Read more here.

1:46 p.m.: School closures due to the coronavirus have millions of students out of school nationwide. But teachers are still trying to keep students engaged in learning. That’s what Lincoln Elementary Performing Arts teacher KeNiesha Watkins was doing in her downtown apartment yesterday: teaching a writing lesson through FaceTime.

“OK, so we’re going to be working on ‘What is your favorite time of the year?’” Watkins explained to Addison, a fourth grader smiling back at Watkins from her iPhone screen.

Read more here.

12:42 p.m.: Indiana political leaders say they decided to postpone the state’s May 5 primary because of concern about the coronavirus pandemic.

Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb said during a news conference with the state GOP and Democratic chairmen that the primary will instead be held on June 2. The announcement came shortly after Indiana health officials reported that the state had 23 new cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus.

That raised the state’s total count to 79, including two patients who died.
Neighboring Ohio and Kentucky are among at least seven other states that have postponed their primaries. Associated Press

11 a.m.: Kentucky’s Education and Workforce Development Cabinet says that, based on orders from the federal government, it cannot provide detailed information about the number of unemployment insurance applications.

Earlier this week, the cabinet disclosed that more than 34,000 had filed for unemployment over three days: 17,600 people on Wednesday 12,000 on Tuesday, and 4,800 on Monday. The cabinet’s executive director of communications, JT Henderson, said in an email that the message to stop disclosing unemployment numbers “was conveyed by the Department of Labor so I cannot communicate those numbers until further notice.”

The New York Times reported on Wednesday night that the Labor Department told state officials in an email to “provide information using generalities” and avoid giving specific numbers until national claims data is released next week. — Jared Bennett

10:35 a.m.: The Floyd County, Indiana Health Department has launched a pilot project to test some county residents for COVID-19 through drive-thru testing. In a news release, the health department said patients would have to first be screened by their primary care physician or the health department; then given a time to show up. Hours today will be 12 to 3 p.m. For questions, call the health department at 812-948-4726 x656.

8:30 a.m.: Here’s what you may have missed yesterday:

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear has signed an executive order banning large gatherings of people from meeting in the commonwealth; this includes in-person worship services.

Louisville Metro Council has voted to shift $2.7 million previously earmarked for pension payments to make funds available for COVID-19 relief.

One of the last remaining large gatherings of people — the Kentucky General Assembly — finally decided to adjourn for a week amid the growing coronavirus crisis. The legislative body had been facing mounting criticism, as it banned most visitors from the capitol and continued to consider controversial bills dealing with abortion and immigration enforcement.

Less travel and shuttered schools and businesses means there’s a lagging demand for energy in the region.  And that is causing energy producers, utilities and energy sector workers across the Ohio Valley to adjust operations and brace for continued economic impacts as the fast-moving coronavirus pandemic continues to unfold.

Previous Coverage

Thursday, March 19
Wednesday, March 18
Tuesday, March 17
Monday, March 16
Sunday, March 15
Saturday, March 14
Friday, March 13
Thursday, March 12
Wednesday, March 11
Tuesday, March 10

Thursday, March 19:

9:47 p.m.: The Louisville Metro Council voted to shift $2.7 million previously earmarked for pension payments to make funds available for COVID-19 relief.

The ordinance states that the money is intended to be used “as a fund of last resort,” to be accessed when other funding sources are insufficient. The legislation was fast-tracked this week because it was an emergency ordinance, meaning it was not heard in committee.

Twenty-three members voted yes, two voted no and one — Brent Ackerson (D-26) — voted present. Ackerson said he opposed the legislation because there is now federal aid on the way and because the city continues to face fiscal problems. Amina Elahi

7:47 p.m.: The Kentucky legislature will not meet for a week due to the coronavirus outbreak.

The news comes after state lawmakers continued to meet despite warnings about the seriousness of the disease and the need for people to not gather in large groups to prevent its spread.

Senate President Robert Stivers and House Speaker David Osborne announced Thursday afternoon that after the day’s business, the legislature would adjourn until March 26.

Osborne said that the legislature’s main focus would be passing a budget and bills that would help the state deal with the pandemic. Ryland Barton

6:21 p.m.: Gov. Andy Beshear said Thursday he has signed an executive order prohibiting all gatherings where people would come together, including in-person services held by houses of worship.

He announced the new order during his regular coronavirus briefing at the state capitol building. Beshear said there are approximately 47 people in Kentucky that have tested positive for COVID-19. Two people have died due to complications related to the disease.

Beshear did not specifically say what the penalties are if a place of worship violates the order, but he encouraged all religious leaders to heed the call.

“No one is going to be out there arresting people, that’s not the right thing to do,” he said. “The right thing is for everyone to do their duty, and for that see people not doing their duty, ask them to, but ask them to nicely.”

He said the order was not an easy decision, citing his own deep faith, but he said it was a necessary step to stem the spread of COVID-19. The order was not immediately available online. A spokesperson for Beshear said the order would be posted in the coming hours. Jacob Ryan

5:11 p.m.: GE Appliances plans to shut down operations at the Appliance Park in Louisville for at least a week, according to the Courier Journal.

On Tuesday the company announced plans to limit operations, and decided to close entirely on Thursday.

The CJ reports that there are no confirmed cases at the Appliance Park. Distribution Centers will remain open for delivery, installation and servicing of GE products.

Toyota too, plans to temporarily shutter its largest production plant in the U.S. through at least April 6, according to WDRB. — Ryan Van Velzer

5:10 p.m.: There are now 17 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Jefferson County, Mayor Greg Fischer said. That makes six new cases since Gov. Andy Beshear briefed the press yesterday evening.

“I just want to continue to prepare folks, there’s going to be more and more cases. As there’s more cases, there’s going to be more serious illness as well. And I hope and pray this is not the case but if we’re like other places in the world, people will lose their lives as a result of this virus,” he said during a press conference.

Fischer said, as he has before, that Louisville has the advantage of learning from how coronavirus has spread in other places and reiterated that people should practice social distancing, good hand hygiene and other best practices as much as possible.

His wife, Alexandra Gerassimides, who was confirmed as a new case yesterday, is “getting through it,” he said. — Amina Elahi

5:06 p.m.: Republican leaders of the Kentucky legislature have postponed this year’s legislative session by a week due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Senate President Robert Stivers and House Speaker David Osborne announced that after Thursday’s business, the General assembly will adjourn until March 26, though lawmakers will still meet to hammer out a final version of the two-year budget.

The news came as the Senate debated its version of the budget, which was unveiled on Wednesday evening.

Lawmakers have continued to meet despite warnings about the coronavirus and the need for people to not gather in large groups to prevent spread of the disease. — Ryland Barton

3:45 p.m.: Immigration cases for Louisville-area residents have been postponed through April 10 while the local immigration court is closed, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement will scale back opening new cases, according to various federal agencies. 

The Executive Office for Immigration Review has postponed non-detained immigration hearings and closed many immigration courts, including those in Louisville and Memphis, the two courts where local cases are most often routed

Immigration court in Louisville has been closed since August for “building condition” reasons, unrelated to the coronavirus. In the meantime, Louisville area hearings have been conducted via teleconference with a judge in Memphis, but now Memphis is closed.

Individuals whose hearings are postponed will receive a new notice when those hearings are scheduled. Hearings can range from setting schedules to deciding whether an individual gets asylum or another immigration benefit they have applied for.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) says it will adjust its enforcement posture starting March 18 and focus its enforcement operations on public safety risks and people with criminal backgrounds who need to be detained. For people who don’t fall into those categories, ICE says it will exercise discretion to delay enforcement actions until after the coronavirus crisis.

ICE says that during the COVID-19 crisis it will not carry out enforcement operations at or near health care facilities such as hospitals, doctors’ offices or health clinics except in what it calls “the most extraordinary of circumstances.”

“Individuals should not avoid seeking medical care because they fear civil immigration enforcement,” ICE said in an emailed notification.

Homeland Security says it will continue to carry out criminal investigations and enforcement actions that are necessary to maintain public safety and national security. — Jared Bennett

2:45 p.m.: Lyon County, in western Kentucky, had its first person test positive for the coronavirus on Tuesday. Here’s what people are saying in the county seat of Eddyville.

1:27 p.m.: Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb announced today that all schools in the state will remain closed through May 1.

11:41 a.m.: Health officials say 17 new coronavirus infection cases have been confirmed around Indiana, increasing the state’s total to 56. The virus causing COVID-19 illnesses has now been identified in 22 of Indiana’s 92 counties.

Eight of the new cases announced today (Thurs) by state health officials are in Indianapolis, with others confirmed among residents of Howard, Lake, Owen, St. Joseph, Tippecanoe and Wayne counties. Indiana has recorded two COVID-19 deaths, one each in Marion and Johnson counties.

As the economic fallout spreads, the owners of the two largest hotels in downtown Indianapolis are considering temporary closures as they’ve seen drastic declines in business. — Associated Press

10:45 a.m.: Tens of thousands of Kentuckians lost their jobs this week and are turning to unemployment insurance to help make ends meet as businesses close and restaurants transition to takeout and delivery service only.

The Kentucky Education and Workforce Development Cabinet says it processed over 17,600 applications on Wednesday — and that’s after processing 12,000 on Tuesday.

The cabinet says during a typical week, they process 2,000 applications.

If you lost your job this week you can apply for unemployment insurance at the Kentucky Career Center’s website,  kcc.ky.gov/career or call 502-875-0442.

More on unemployment is explained here. — Jared Bennett

9:00 a.m.: Businesses across Kentucky and Indiana are closed, factories are closing and some office workers are being told to work from home. But others are still going into work — and many are worried about their heath in the midst of the pandemic.

Wednesday, March 18:

9:15 p.m.: Starting Friday, Louisville’s public transit system is changing its schedule to reduce crowds. TARC will run most of its buses on a Saturday schedule every day but Sunday, when they will run on a Sunday schedule. The agency is also suspending certain routes: The U of L campus shuttle, the Second Street/airport service and the free LouLift circulator. TARC 3 paratransit service and some other routes, including to Riverport and UPS, will not change. The agency has already stepped up disinfecting practices on its buses. Real-time route updates are available at ridetarc.org. Amina Elahi

7:24 p.m.: Automakers across the Ohio Valley are temporarily closing their plants in response to the coronavirus pandemic. That includes the big three U.S. automakers — Ford, General Motors and Fiat Chrysler, and Toyota.

Kentucky is home to GM’s Corvette plant in Bowling Green, which employs about 1,400 people, and a Ford facility in Louisville which employs about 4,000 people assembling the Ford Escape and Lincoln Corsair.

Toyota’s facility in Georgetown, Kentucky, is Toyota’s largest vehicle manufacturing plant in the world, and employs more than 8,000 people. More on this story here. Becca Schimmel, Ohio Valley ReSource

6:15 p.m.: Gov. Andy Beshear unveiled two new steps to help people receive and keep their public assistance during Wednesday’s press conference: Anyone who is now unemployed may immediately sign up for Medicaid. And anyone who receives any form of public assistance such as SNAP (formerly known as food stamps) and Medicaid will automatically receive an additional three months of benefits without having to re-certify.

Beshear also suspended all charitable gaming licenses, AKA, he canceled bingo. He appeared to call out one parlor in particular:
“If you are a Bingo parlor in Pike County you ought to be closed by the end of the day,” Beshear said. “Those parlors cater to an older and more at-risk crowd. Do not, do not, engage in the kind of conduct that can put people at risk.” — Ryan Van Velzer

5:08 p.m.: Gov. Andy Beshear says Kentucky now has 35 people who have tested positive for COVID-19, and that includes an 8-month-old in Jefferson County. The virus most commonly affects older people and those who are immunocompromised, but in rare cases can affect children, he said. The child is currently in good condition, Beshear said.

4:58 p.m.: Alexandra Gerassimides, the wife of Mayor Greg Fischer, has tested positive for COVID-19 and is isolating.

Fischer has been in quarantine since Sunday, after learning that he was in contact with someone who later tested positive on March 7. He speculated Wednesday that his wife may have contracted the virus from the same source. Fischer, who remains without symptoms, said his quarantine will be extended until March 31. Gerassimides is doing well, he said. Amina Elahi

4:25 p.m.: Over the span of a few days, Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear issued orders that will grind business in Kentucky to a halt and increase quick access to unemployment benefits.

By 5 p.m. Wednesday, all “public facing” businesses including entertainment, hospitality and recreational facilities, gyms and exercise facilities and hair salons will close their doors. That’s on top of the bars and restaurants that have shuttered or reduced staff as they transitioned to take out and delivery services.

As a result, many in Kentucky have already lost their income source, and many more will in the coming days. Nationwide, nearly 1 in 5 Americans have experienced a layoff or a reduction in hours due to the coronavirus, an NPR/ PBS Newshour/Marist poll found.

Unemployment insurance is available for those who have lost their jobs to help ease the burden.

Beshear announced policy changes aimed at making unemployment insurance more available to people who lose their jobs due to the coronavirus, including waiving the one-week waiting period for receiving benefits and the requirement that recipients prove they are actively looking for work. But the process can be difficult to navigate. Here’s an explainer on how it works. Jared Bennett

3:26 p.m.: Attorney General Daniel Cameron unveiled an online form Wednesday for Kentuckians to report suspected price gouging.

The Attorney General’s Office has received 84 complaints of suspected price gouging since Governor Andy Beshear enacted state laws relating to price gouging on March 7. Cameron said the form will speed up investigations into people profiting from the spread of the coronavirus.

“Kentuckians are already facing changes and uncertainty as a result of the coronavirus, and we want to make sure that reporting suspected price gouging does not create additional stress,” Cameron said in a press release. “These changes allow us to access the information needed to more quickly investigate price gouging claims on behalf of Kentuckians.”

You can file a price gouging complaint online at ag.ky.gov/pricegouging, or by calling 1-888-432-9527. Kyeland Jackson

1:58 p.m: Ford Motor Company is suspending production amid growing spread of coronavirus, the Associated Press reports. Ford employs more than 12,000 people at its two Louisville plants: the Louisville Assembly Plant and the Kentucky Truck Plant. The facilities will close at the end of Thursday’s shifts and aims to reopen on March 30th, according to the AP. The closure comes amid pressure from the United Auto Workers Union; UAW Local 862 President Todd Dunn did not immediately return request for comment. Eleanor Klibanoff

12:25 p.m.: The Jefferson Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office and the public defender’s office are working together to identify inmates who can be released without compromising public safety.

So far, at least 117 agreed orders have been signed to releases inmates to home incarceration or on their own recognizance. That number does not include orders handled by individual prosecutors and private defense attorneys.

The measure is intended to reduce overcrowding and the potential for spread in Metro Corrections.

“We are reviewing [the public defender’s] list on a case by case basis and, in what our office feels are the appropriate cases, are agreeing that the defendants be released,” said commonwealth’s attorney spokesperson Jeff Cooke. “Those agreed releases may involve home incarceration, telephone monitoring or release on their own recognizance.” Jacob Ryan

12:00 p.m.: We’re live for a special “In Conversation” on 89.3 WFPL or streaming here. We’ll talk about coronavirus’ effects on the economy — in Louisville, Southern Indiana and around the region: everything from the delay of Derby to restaurant closures to job losses. Give us a call at 502-814-TALK to join the conversation.

10:51 a.m.: Here’s an update on the situation in Indiana from our friends at Side Effects Public Media:

“Religious groups are adjusting to restrictions on public gatherings. At St. Matthew Cathedral in South Bend, that meant no holy water, no hymnals and other changes in the mass.

Indiana joined neighboring states in closing bars, nightclubs and restaurants to dine-in customers. The restriction will last at least until the end of March.

The state gaming commission ordered casinos to close for at least two weeks.

More than 270 school districts have closed, and officials are working with the remaining 16 districts to determine their next steps.”

10:24 a.m.: With the closures of libraries and community centers and new recommendations against gatherings of people, people in substance abuse recovery are facing new challenges. Here’s how some groups and people in Louisville are coping.

9:40 a.m.: Gov. Andy Beshear has ordered additional closures to begin at 5 p.m. today: they include “entertainment, hospitality and recreational facilities, community and recreation centers, gyms and exercise facilities, hair salons, nail salons, spas, concert venues, theaters, and sporting event facilities.” That’s in addition to all bars and restaurants, unless they offer carry-out, drive-thru or delivery. Exempt from these closures are retail stores, grocery store, hardware stores, pharmacies, banks, post offices, pet stores and hotels.

In good news for some in the state, Beshear has also directed the Department of Revenue to pause enforced collection methods while the state deals with the economic fallout of the coronavirus.

Also, the Kentucky General Assembly is still in session, despite calls for adjournment amid the pandemic.

Tuesday, March 17:

7:58 p.m.: Gov. Andy Beshear is urging the state legislature to either quickly pass a two-year budget or adjourn and return for a special session in the coming months. Republicans say they won’t adjourn until they have a budget.

7:15 p.m.: The state Department of Revenue is halting all enforced collection methods, including wage garnishment and driver’s license revocations. Read more.

5:44 p.m.: Louisville Metro Police Chief Steve Conrad says calls for public intoxication, loitering, loud music and other non-violent offenses will be handled over the phone by LMPD’s Service Center. Conrad said the change is meant to minimize in-person interaction between officers and the public, to help slow the spread of coronavirus.

“For example: Calls for public intoxication, loitering, trespassing, loud music, found property, speeding, illegal parking, those are the kinds of things that are not going to necessitate a police response unless there is a known risk to a person,” he said during a call with reporters.

Other changes announced Tuesday affect the city’s fire department, emergency medical services and other public safety positions.

5:13 p.m.: After playing a video made for kids to help explain the coronavirus to them, Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear says there are now 26 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Kentucky. He also said he has signed an executive order that all “public facing businesses” that can’t comply with the CDC’s guidelines on social distancing must close by close of business tomorrow. Those include entertainment and recreation facilities, gyms, hair and nail salons and concert venues. There are exceptions, including hotels, pet stores, banks and hardware stores.

5:00 p.m.: Though all Louisville-area YMCAs are closed, the Y is offering free online classes for its members. There are more than 100 workout classes online here, to better help the community relieve some stress and get some physical activity as long as the coronavirus crisis disrupts daily life.

4:51 p.m.: Louisville Gas and Electric and Kentucky Utilities is expanding the suspension of disconnects to business accounts. In a press release today, the company said it was suspending disconnects and waiving new late fees for all business customers until at least May 1.

“We appreciate the contributions, economic value and character local businesses bring to our communities and, just as our residential customers, we know they’re struggling,” said Vice President of Customer Service Eileen Saunders. “We hope this policy will give them a bit of relief as they continue to try and navigate the uncertainty now and ahead.”

Earlier, the company said it would suspend residential disconnects during the coronavirus crisis.

3:30 p.m.: The COVID-19 pandemic is putting pressure on all of us. Whether or not we get sick, many of us are stressed financially and emotionally. Here’s a list of resources for the Louisville community during this time. — Jess Clark

1:43 p.m.: Two influential groups are calling on the Kentucky General Assembly to adjourn, and stop taking up legislation while access to the state capitol is restricted.

The Kentucky Education Association is demanding lawmakers pass a budget, “then go home.”

“Democracy does not work ‘virtually’ or in the dark. Bills and policies that would otherwise receive vocal outrage and opposition will pop up like mushrooms in that darkness. Educators have seen this before,” KEA president Eddie Campbell wrote in an emailed statement.

He’s asking lawmakers to pass an education-forward budget, as well as legislation to waive the requirement school districts make up many of the instructional days lost to the school closures.

Meanwhile the ACLU of Kentucky is calling on lawmakers to postpone hearing all legislation, even the budget.

“Lawmakers have the opportunity to pass a budget and work on other legislative matters at a later date,” ACLU-KY executive director Michael Aldridge wrote in an emailed statement.

“Continuing the legislative session behind closed doors exposes essential LRC employees to the novel coronavirus, endangers the safety of communities where legislators will return after working in close quarters at the Capitol, and violates Kentuckians’ right to participate in their Government,” he wrote.

The Republican leadership of both chambers sent out a statement Monday saying they are continuing the legislative process, limiting access to meetings to lawmakers, essential staff and reporters. — Jess Clark

12:20 p.m.: Starting this evening, Chef Edward Lee and Maker’s Mark will begin distributing meals tonight to restaurant workers affected by widespread closures. 

Gov. Andy Beshear on Monday ordered all restaurants and bars to close to inside customers and instead offer only takeout, delivery or drive-through service. Lee, a prominent chef who owns several Louisville restaurants, announced the restaurant worker’s relief program late Monday.

According to Lee’s Instagram, anyone with a restaurant pay stub can come to 610 Magnolia in Old Louisville and pick up to-go dinners, two per person. (610 Magnolia is both the address and the name of the restaurant.)

“There are so many restaurant workers suddenly out of work,” Lee wrote. “They are the backbone of our industry. They have always answered the call to work our kitchens and run our dining rooms. I am doing anything I can to make sure that they are not forgotten.”

The dinners will last as long as it’s financially feasible, Lee said. He is accepting donations to the program at LEEInitiative.org. The Omni Louisville announced this morning that it’s donating all the hotel’s perishable foods to the program this afternoon. Kate Howard

10:18 a.m.: Indiana has announced its second death as a result of COVID-19 from the new coronavirus. The state now has 30 confirmed cases.

9:30 a.m.: Because of the health concerns involving large gatherings of people, WFPK and Waterfront Park are delaying the launch of this year’s Waterfront Wednesday season. In a release, the groups said the first concert, planned for April 22, will be delayed.

Like WFPL, WFPK is part of Louisville Public Media.

9:05 a.m.: For only the second time in history, the Kentucky Derby will be postponed. Read the whole story here.

9 a.m.: The Jefferson County Sheriff has stopped executing eviction orders.

Lt. Col. Carl Yates said the agency “got word from the courts” to stop executing the orders late Monday evening.

He said Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer also announced the procedure change on the radio Tuesday morning.

Until now, the sheriff has continued to execute eviction orders, even as the COVID-19 pandemic spreads and government officials pressure residents to stay home.

The sheriff executed 14 eviction orders on Monday and had more than 60 scheduled for this week. The remaining orders will be put on hold until further notice, Yates said.

Monday, March 16:

9:05 p.m.: An evening release from Gov. Andy Beshear’s office said Kentucky’s total is now at 25 confirmed cases of COVID-19. Here’s a list of all of the patients thus far, with their ages, sex and location, if available:

  1. 66, Male, Bourbon, passed away March 15
  2. 40, Female, Fayette
  3. 46, Male, Fayette
  4. 31, Female, Fayette
  5. 47, Male, Fayette
  6. 31, Male, Fayette
  7. 27, Female, Harrison, fully recovered
  8. 67, Female, Harrison
  9. 68, Male, Harrison
  10. 54, Female, Harrison
  11. 60, Male, Harrison
  12. 51, Male, Harrison
  13. 69, Male, Jefferson
  14. 67, Female, Jefferson
  15. 68, Female, Jefferson
  16. 80, Female, Jefferson
  17. 73, Female, Jefferson
  18. 56, Male, Montgomery
  19. 53, Male, Nelson
  20. 49, Male, Clark
  21. 54, Male, Jefferson
  22. 34, Female, Jefferson
  23. 74, Male, Fayette
  24. 33, Female, Fayette
  25. 51, Male, Montgomery

“Again, we believe there are cases out there where people aren’t being tested because they are asymptomatic,” Beshear said in the release. “What we’re dealing with is serious. It shouldn’t scare you, but it should give you a commitment to make sure we are following the guidelines that we have to follow.”

7:04 p.m.: Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer announced the Louisville Zoo is now closed to the public and that visitation at Metro Corrections is now suspended.

“I wish this step was not necessary,” he said. Visitation is usually conducted on-site by video conference. Fischer said essential zoo staff would continue to care for animals, while others are being encouraged to work from home. He said the zoo would offer refunds and cancellations for events.

Dr. Sarah Moyer, the director of Louisville’s health department, said the city is about a week or two behind San Francisco and Seattle in terms of incidence of coronavirus. Today, officials in six Bay Area counties issued an order for all residents to shelter in place for three weeks and for most non-essential businesses to temporarily close. Moyer said that is the scenario Louisville is trying to avoid.

“We have implemented the social distancing orders much sooner, and as we’ve seen modeled in other pandemics over the past century, we’re hoping that our actions taken sooner will prevent something like that,” she said. — Amina Elahi

6:30 p.m.: A Louisville Metro Housing Authority spokesperson said via email Monday evening that the agency will suspend evictions and set outs for those evictions that were already signed by the court.

“We have reached out to participants to ensure they are reporting any losses in income to ensure sustained home security as well,” the statement said. “LMHA is continuing daily sanitation of high traffic areas, have closed all common spaces and are limiting visitors to encourage social distancing. Property managers and case managers are continuing to remind residents of the importance of good disease prevention habits.”

It’s unclear how many of the evictions scheduled for this week were LMHA tenants.  Jacob Ryan

5:10 p.m.: Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear says there are 22 cases of COVID-19 in Kentucky. The newest case is in Jefferson County; she is a 34-year-old woman.

Beshear is also asking child care centers across Kentucky to close by the end of the day Friday. “I know it’s going to be hard. Everything I’ve announced over the past several days is going to be hard,” he said.

There will also be a three-month extension on drivers licenses, to avoid in-person traffic coming into those facilities. By the end of the day tomorrow, all government offices will be closed to in-person traffic, Beshear said.

He also said the state had applied for a loan from the U.S. Small Business Administration to help small businesses suffering from the economic problems coming from the coronavirus. And Beshear confirmed that the state would postpone the state’s primary elections by the 35 days allowed by Kentucky law: until June 23.

5:00 p.m.: Republican leaders of the Kentucky legislature say that the 2020 legislative session will continue despite worries of large gatherings amid the coronavirus outbreak.

In a statement from House Speaker David Osborne and Senate President Robert Stivers announced that the they are restricting in-person access to meetings to lawmakers, essential staff and reporters.The news comes after the CDC recommended that Americans avoid gatherings of more than 50 people amid the coronavirus pandemic.

There are 138 members of the General Assembly, plus hundreds of staff, reporters and others who work on the state Capitol campus every day. — Ryland Barton

4:56 p.m.: Kentucky Secretary of State Michael Adams is recommending that the state move its primary elections from May 19 to June 23.

The request comes in response to the coronavirus epidemic. So far 21 people have been confirmed with the disease in Kentucky.

Authority to delay an election ultimately resides with the governor. In a letter to Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear, Adams asked Beshear to delay the primary election by 35 days. In this year’s primary contest, Kentuckians will weigh in on who to nominate for U.S. Senate, Congress and the state legislature. — Ryland Barton

4:20 p.m.: At the end of the day today, all Louisville area YMCA branches will be closed through March 29.

“This is an unprecedented event in our nation’s history, as well as for the YMCA of Greater Louisville. We are extraordinarily grateful for you and appreciate your patience and understanding while we navigate this challenging time,” YMCA of Greater Louisville President Steve Tarver wrote in an email.

3:24 p.m.: Mayor Greg Fischer does not have coronavirus per a test result Monday afternoon, he said in an emailed statement.

“Per Health Department guidance, I will continue to self-quarantine for 14 days from the date of exposure, which runs through March 21. In the meantime, I’m working from home, in constant communication with my staff and others in the community as we work through this crisis. I urge all to adhere to the health department guidelines about protecting yourself and your community,” the statement said.

Fischer started quarantining yesterday after learning he had been in contact with someone at the Speed Ball who tested positive for COVID-19. At least two attendees have tested positive.

Another attendee, Rep. John Yarmuth, announced earlier today his test came back negative as well.

— Amina Elahi

2:27 p.m.: The Jefferson County Sheriff will continue to execute eviction orders, even as the COVID-19 pandemic spreads and sparks cancellations and closures across the state.

On Monday the sheriff’s department had 14 eviction orders scheduled, according to Lt. Col. Carl Yates, the department’s public information officer. There are more than 60 eviction orders scheduled for this week.

Yates said the department is following judges’ orders.

“These are not decisions made by us, these are decisions made by judges,” he said. “Our duties are to carry out those orders until we are told to stop.”

Read the story here. — Jacob Ryan

1:25 p.m.: By now, you’ve heard it a lot: a lot of people who come down with COVID-19 from the new coronavirus have mild or moderate symptoms. But what do these terms actually mean as it relates to the epidemic? NPR breaks it down here.

12:45 p.m.: Many events in the Louisville area have been canceled or postponed in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Some of the larger events that have been impacted include:

  • Festival of Faiths
  • Actors Theatre’s Humana Festival of New American Plays
  • Anastasia at Whitney Hall
  • An Evening with Michael Bublé at the KFC Yum! Center
  • Events at the Speed Art Museum
  • Events at Louisville Free Public Library branches
  • The Moth Storyslam at Headliners Music Hall

For an updated list of events that have been canceled or postponed, visit Do502.com. Do you know of an event that we haven’t listed yet? Send us an email.

— Ashlee Clark Thompson

11:54 a.m.: Kentucky utilities announced Monday they will suspend disconnects for residential customers until May 1 and waive late fees incurred between now and then.
The announcement applies to Louisville Gas and Electric (LG&E), Kentucky Utilities Company (KU) and Old Dominion Power. Louisville Water also suspended its shutoffs last week.

“While we’ve historically taken similar measures during extreme weather conditions, we are in unprecedented times with this virus and we want to ensure that our residential customers, who may need some extra time to make payments, have the additional grace period,” said Eileen Saunders, vice president of customer services, in an emailed statement. “We are committed to working with our customers who may be having difficulty paying their energy bills and connecting them with available resources that can further assist them.”

All LG&E, KU and ODP business offices and facilities remain open and some offer service through a drive-through window. —  Kate Howard

11:50 a.m.: Indiana’s governor is ordering restaurants and bars closed to in-person customers in another step toward stemming the spread of the coronavirus.

The order Monday from Gov. Eric Holcomb follows each of Indiana’s adjacent states taking the same step in recent days. The governor’s office says 273 public school districts have decided to close to students and that the state education department is working with the 16 others to determine their next steps. Indiana’s hospitals and surgery centers are being asked to cancel or postpone elective and non-urgent surgical procedures to help free up resources and personnel for possible virus illnesses.

More than two-thirds of Indiana’s school districts have closed their doors to students as all public schools in surrounding states have done so in an attempt to slow the coronavirus spread. — Associated Press

11:39 a.m.: The Indiana health department says the number of confirmed COVID-19 illnesses in Indiana reached 24 Monday in 13 counties.

That is five more than reported on Sunday and double Friday’s number. The state Department of Education said 218 of Indiana’s some 300 public school district have reported closure or switching to online classwork because of the virus outbreak.

Statewide school closings are occurring in Kentucky and other states. — Associated Press

11:01 a.m.: University Of Louisville President Neeli Bendapudi is in self-quarantine after attending an event where someone tested positive for COVID-19. Bendapudi said in a tweet Sunday afternoon that she has shown no symptoms, and will work remotely.

This follows news that Louisville philanthropist Christy Brown and Kentucky Author Forum Founder Mary Moss Greenebaum were diagnosed with the coronavirus after attending the March 7 Speed Art Museum Ball. — Kyeland Jackson

9:07 a.m.: Gov. Andy Beshear says Kentucky has had its first death related to the new coronavirus. The individual was a 66-year-old man from Bourbon County, and COVID-19 was only one factor in the death, he said.

The governor also said all bars and restaurants in Kentucky will be closed except for drive-through, carry-out and delivery as of 5:00 p.m. today. The state capitol will also be closed to all non-essential employees starting tomorrow. Here’s more.

8:30 a.m.: Floyd County, Indiana health officials have confirmed a case of COVID-19 from the new coronavirus in the county. The individual is being treated at Baptist Health Floyd, and while the health department isn’t releasing any information about the individual, they say they are an adult and not a student, and was in the following places on the following dates:

  • Northside Christian Church, 3/8/2020, 11:30 service
  • IHSAA Boys Basketball Sectionals at Seymour High School on 3/7/2020
  • Color Guard Competition at Floyd Central High School on 3/7/2020
  • High School wrestling match at Floyd Central High School on 3/1/2020
  • Attended Caesar’s Casino of Southern Indiana on the following dates: 2/25/2020 thru 2/29/2020 and again from 3/3/2020 thru 3/7/2020 8a-4p on all days listed.

In an email this morning, Caesar’s Casino of Southern Indiana announced that in the interest of public health and as a precautionary measure, it will be closing for at least 14 days beginning this morning.

In Kentucky, the number of positive COVID-19 cases was at 21 at the end of the day yesterday; Gov. Andy Beshear is scheduled to give an update at 9 a.m. We’ll carry that live on 89.3 WFPL. — Erica Peterson

Sunday, March 15:

7:25 p.m.: Mary Moss Greenebaum says she’s on the mend and symptom-free after getting diagnosed with COVID-19 and “an unpleasant two days.”

Greenebaum,  the founder of the Kentucky Author Forum, said she started feeling sick a couple days after she attended the Speed Art Museum Ball. Another attendee, philanthropist Christy Brown, has also tested positive.

Greenebaum said she first thought she had a stomach bug, and then the next day, she developed symptoms she’s been hearing about related to the coronavirus: a hacking cough and a high fever. She went to the hospital on Thursday, she said, and after ruling out the flu, she was tested for coronavirus. The first test came back negative, but doctors ran the test again. 

Greenebaum will remain isolated for the next 10 days, she said.

“I think people should take isolation seriously,” she said. “ If everyone who could possibly do it would adhere to it, it would make an enormous dent in our being able to flatten out its progress. That’s the responsibility I hope everyone will take, if they can.” -Kate Howard

6:26 p.m.: Per a release from Gov. Andy Beshear’s office, Kentucky’s total is now at 21 confirmed cases of COVID-19. Here’s a list of all of the patients thus far, with their ages, sex and location, if available:

  1. Harrison, F, 27, out of hospital and fully recovered
  2. Fayette, M, 40
  3. Jefferson, M, 69
  4. Harrison, F, 67
  5. Harrison, M, 68
  6. Fayette, M, 46
  7. Harrison, F, 54
  8. Harrison, M, 60
  9. Harrison, M, 51
  10. Fayette, F, 31
  11. Jefferson, F, 67
  12. Bourbon, M, 66
  13. Jefferson, F, 68
  14. Jefferson, F, 80
  15. Nelson, M, 53
  16. Montgomery, M, 56
  17. Fayette, M, 47
  18. Fayette, M, 31
  19. Clark, M, 49
  20. Jefferson, F, 73
  21. Jefferson

5:49 p.m.: Speed Museum Director Stephen Reily says two guests at the March 7 Speed Ball have tested positive for COVID-19.

5:38 p.m.: Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer says he is self-quarantining, after the news that someone he had contact with at the Speed Ball, presumably Christy Brown, tested positive for COVID-19 (see below). Fischer says so far, he feels fine. He has been tested and is awaiting the results.

5:27 p.m.: Prominent Louisville philanthropist Christy Brown has tested positive for COVID-19, per her attorney. Brown had been at the Speed Ball on March 7, a large fundraising event at the Speed Museum, along with many other people including Gov. Andy Beshear, Sen. Rand Paul and Rep. John Yarmuth. Here’s more.

5 p.m.: Gov. Andy Beshear confirmed 20 cases of the coronavirus have spread across seven Kentucky counties during an afternoon press conference Sunday.

At least one of those patients is not expected to survive, while another patient in Nelson County refused to self-isolate and now has a sheriff’s deputy parked outside their home.

As reports come in of empty store shelves and people hoarding supplies, Beshear reminded Kentuckians to act responsibly and only purchase what is necessary so that everyone can get what they need.

“First we just need Kentuckians to be good neighbors and realize that if you take eight months of baby formula it means another mom won’t be able to get it,” Beshear said Sunday.

He also admonished people for crowding into bars and clubs over the weekend, and asked those people to reduce their contacts and take preventative measures to protect people.

Ohio has ordered the temporary closure of bars and restaurants, and Beshear said he would consider doing the same if people could not act responsibly.

Beshear himself said he has tested negative for the virus after attending the Speed Art Museum Ball in Louisville. That fundraiser was also attended by philanthropist Christy Brown, as well other local and state officials.

Brown has confirmed through an attorney that she has tested positive for the virus.

As for the passengers who were aboard the Grand Princess cruise, 14 of them are expected to be home tonight and the remaining two are expected back in the state tomorrow, Beshear said.

“Again, these are our people. I don’t think they’ve been treated the way they should. We will take responsibility for them here in Kentucky,” he said.

12:00 p.m.: Houses of worship across Kentucky offered online services in mostly-empty buildings as many heeded Gov. Andy Beshear’s request to cancel in-person gatherings.

Among the large congregations offering online-only services were St. Stephen Church in west Louisville and Southeast Christian Church. Calvary Cathedral downtown also held service online in the wake of the diocese’s advice.

At St. Stephen, Rev. Kevin Cosby preached to a room with only musicians, each standing several feet apart. Cosby stressed the seriousness of the COVID-19 outbreak, particularly for seniors, and encouraged listeners of his sermon to turn to God.

“Any blow that stimulates us to pray, to trust God, to seek God… that blow was worth the blow, if it causes us to seek God,” Cosby said. “Sometimes it takes a blow to get us to say, ‘Father, I stretch my hand to thee.'”

At St. James Catholic Church in the Highlands, some attended in-person, but the person leading the service said there would be no communion from the cup or coffee and donuts after the service. She encouraged members to greet one another from a distance.

Beshear tweeted early Sunday that it was difficult to stay home from church.

Beshear is expected to provide updates on Kentucky’s coronavirus cases at a 4 p.m. briefing. On Saturday, he said one case was critical and he expected he might have to share bad news.

-Kate Howard

Saturday, March 14:

8:37 p.m.: Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear has announced two additional COVID-19 cases in Kentucky, bringing the state’s total to 18. Both of the new cases are in Fayette County.

Earlier today, Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer announced additional closures in the city, including all libraries, community centers, some indoor portions of the Louisville Zoo and the Mary T. Meagher Aquatic Center. Here’s more.

4:32 p.m.: Gov. Andy Beshear says there are now 16 confirmed coronavirus cases in Kentucky. The cases are in Harrison, Fayette, Jefferson, Nelson (with Meade Co. connections), Montgomery and Bourbon counties. Four are in Jefferson County. Additionally, Beshear says he is awaiting the results of 31 more tests, and may know more later tonight.

Beshear says he’s asking all Kentucky hospitals to cease all elective procedures by close of business on Wednesday.

“We need all the capacity we can to deal with the cases we believe we will see,” he said.

All Kentucky schools are closed for at least the next two weeks; Beshear said he’s asking child care facilities to prepare emergency plans, and plan to be ready to close within 72 hours notice.

Beshear added that in the confirmed COVID-19 case in Nelson County, the individual  refused to self-isolate. He said they left the hospital against medical advice and refused to self-quarantine. Beshear said they have been forced into isolation in their home.

He also provided an update of the Kentucky passengers on the Grand Princess: 14 are at one Air Force Base, two are at another. He says the 14 are expected to be back home tomorrow. – Erica Peterson

1:56 p.m.: Kentucky is among states with the largest share of adults age 18 and older at higher risk of serious illness if infected with coronavirus. That’s according to a study by the Kaiser Family Foundation that found 45% of adults in Kentucky are at a higher risk of serious illness if infected due to old age or underlying health conditions.

The World Health Organization says the majority of people infected with coronavirus will not show symptoms or will not require major medical treatment. Older adults and people with other medical conditions such as heart disease, diabetes and lung disease are more likely to become seriously ill if infected with coronavirus.

The study found that, nationwide, 4 in 10 adults fall in this higher risk category. Between 40 and 45% of adults in Ohio and Indiana are at a higher risk if infected. – Jared Bennett

11:38 a.m.: The number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in Indiana has risen to 15, all in the central or northern parts of the state.

9:00 a.m.: Good morning! Yesterday brought more school closures and cancellation, as state leaders urged Kentuckians to limit contact with others (“social distancing”) and wash hands frequently to prevent the spread of COVID-19 caused by the new coronavirus.

Some fresh reading for this morning: the region’s hospitals and local public health departments say years of underfunding mean they’re offering diminished services in the face of this newest public health crisis. And if you’re facing two or three or four weeks of having your children at home (perhaps while you’re trying to work), that’s a problem shared by families across the region.

Mayor Greg Fischer and Metro Public Health’s Medical Director Lori Caloia will be on Facebook Live at 10 a.m. to answer your questions. And we’ll bring you updates throughout the day, including from Gov. Andy Beshear’s scheduled 4 p.m. update. – Erica Peterson

Friday, March 13:

6:04 p.m.: Gov. Andy Beshear says that all of Kentucky’s 172 public school districts will shut down for two weeks, per his recommendation on Thursday for them to do so amid the coronavirus pandemic. Beshear also said that at least three more Kentuckians have tested positive for the disease, bringing the state’s total to at least 14.

One of the positive cases is from Montgomery County, about 30 miles east of Lexington. There are now four Kentucky counties with confirmed cases — Jefferson, Fayette, Harrison and Montgomery.

In addition to the state lab in Frankfort, two other labs have begun to test potential coronavirus cases in Kentucky — one at the University of Louisville and another at LabCorp, a private diagnostic company.

Beshear said the additional labs have created much-need testing bandwidth, but that compiling results from different labs had created some confusion about totals.

“This is something entirely new for this country and this state and we’re doing the best we can to compile all the information coming from different places,” Beshear said.

Beshear said that three cases tested at U of L came back positive on Friday, but that two of them might have come from already-known patients.

Beshear also announced that the first confirmed coronavirus patient, a 27 year-old woman from Harrison County, had been released from UK Chandler Hospital after full recovery. – Ryland Barton

5:46 p.m.: Mayor Greg Fischer said Friday he had not been tested for coronavirus and that Louisville Metro Government had no employees in isolation. Still, Metro is implementing an emergency paid sick leave plan for employees who are under medically-directed isolation. Fischer issued an executive order Friday to allow employees who are symptomatic of coronavirus to take up to 10 paid sick days. If employees need more than 10 days, they can use accrued sick leave. The order, which will be in effect for 30 days, also encourages telework when appropriate. Department heads will have discretion in determining how employees will comply with social distancing and other guidelines while continuing to provide city services.

5:29 p.m.: Gov. Beshear says there are at least three new cases of COVID-19 in Kentucky, but there could be as many as five. That would bring the state total to 14 to 16 cases.

5:00 p.m.: Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear is scheduled to give another update on the state’s coronavirus response.

4:33 p.m.: Senior centers across Kentucky will be closing after Gov. Andy Beshear’s recommendation of the measure earlier Friday to limit exposure of the elderly to coronavirus.

In Louisville, the Metro Office of Resilience and Community Services plans to help those who rely on such centers for food through a frozen meals program starting on Tuesday, March 17. Adults 60 and older will be eligible to receive one box of five frozen meals per week. Meal pickup will be available between 10 a.m. and noon on weekdays at different community locations each day on a first come, first serve basis. Those interested can call 502-574-5223 for more information.

Mayor Greg Fischer said the program would distribute 26,000 meals through April 3. – Amina Elahi

3:46 p.m.: Canceled conferences and events in Louisville in response to the coronavirus has caused an estimated economic loss of $57.6 million.

Louisville Tourism officials released the information in a press release, adding that 14 organizations canceled events scheduled for the coming weeks. Two of those organizations — the Mid-America Trucking show and Vex Robotics World Championship — represent around 86% of the loss.

“This is a devastating loss to our city,” Louisville Tourism President and CEO Karen Williams said. “We will work through this and come out on the other side. Louisville has, and will continue to be, a great destination for leisure business and conventions.”

Some Kentucky Derby festival events have also been postponed, and Churchill Downs officials reported they are weighing whether to postpone the Kentucky Derby race.
Williams said she expects more cancellations going forward, and her staff are working to book more groups. She said it will be difficult to re-book larger groups like Mid-America Trucking and Vex Robotics.

For updates on coronavirus-related cancellations, click here. – Kyeland Jackson

2:30 p.m.: UK HealthCare has confirmed that Kentucky’s first known coronavirus patient has recovered and been discharged from the hospital.

1:40 p.m.: The Louisville Water company is suspending water shut-offs for failure to pay until further notice, an official with the utility confirmed Friday.

About 2,000 people have their water service shut-off each month, but as the COVID-19 pandemic spreads and officials encourage residents to maintain good hygiene the city’s water company will cease all shut-offs for residents who cannot afford to pay their bill, said Vince Guenthner, a senior utilities consultant with Louisville Water.

Residents do not need to take any action to ensure they won’t have their water shut-off; Guenthner said the utility simply is not executing the shut-offs.

“We’re monitoring what’s going on here with the coronavirus and the emergency that we are under … as this virus and this emergency has escalated, we internally decided that it was timely to discontinue the turn-offs,” Guenthner said.

He stressed the policy change is temporary and will not eliminate outstanding bills. Customers will still be on the hook for late bills and for the water they use during this time. Guenthner encouraged all residents to do all they can to stay current on their bill. Customers will also continue to receive their monthly bill.

The Louisville Water Company provided water to more than 250,000 residential customers in 2018, according to the companies annual report. The average residential monthly bill is about $22. – Jacob Ryan

12:51 p.m.: New numbers from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: there are 1,629 cases in 46 states and D.C. Forty-one people have died from COVID-19.

12:34 p.m.: YMCA childcare is canceled for the next several weeks. In Jefferson County, child care is suspended until spring break; a decision about spring break camp hasn’t been made yet. In Floyd County, Indiana, YMCA spring break camp has been canceled.

11:40 a.m.: Schools in Floyd County, Indiana will be closed starting Monday, March 16 through Monday, March 30. Students had already been scheduled to be on spring break for nine days during that time period. Here’s a list of current school closings.

11:00 a.m. Do you have questions about the coronavirus, and the state and city’s response to it? Have stories to share about coping with working from home, child care logistics or trying to get tested for COVID-19? WFPL’s In Conversation is live and we’d love to hear from you. Listen here or on 89.3 WFPL, and call us at 502-814-TALK with your questions or comments.

10:11 a.m.: Gov. Andy Beshear has announced that 195 state-supported senior centers around Kentucky will temporarily be closed to in person-activities in response to coronavirus.
Using funds available because of the declared state of emergency, the centers will still provide meals to citizens either through home delivery or having them available for pick-up, Beshear said.

“We need to try to provide every meal that would’ve been provided to a senior at a senior center to make sure they get it one way or another,” Beshear said.

Senior centers provide meals, health and fitness programs, recreational activities and other programs for Kentuckians. Centers in Harrison, Fayette and Nicholas counties have already closed.

Beshear announced that Kentucky Employers’ Mutual Insurance, the state’s largest issuer of workers’ compensation insurance that contracts with many state agencies, will provide wage replacement benefits to first responders who have to be quarantined due to coronavirus.
“That should also give confidence to our healthcare employees that are out there,” Beshear said. “If they end up having to be at home because of their work we’re going to take care of them.”

Beshear also announced that he was issuing a guidance to all state boards and commissions to stop holding in-person meetings and to conduct business via teleconference. Beshear said that he had consulted with the Kentucky Press Association and that holding meetings remotely would comply with the state’s open meetings laws.

“It’s the very best we can do,” Beshear said.

– Ryland Barton

8:55 a.m.: At 9 a.m., Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear is set to give another update to the state’s response to the pandemic with Steven Stack, the commissioner of the Kentucky Department for Public Health.

8:32 a.m.: The current number of positive coronavirus tests in Kentucky and Indiana remains at 11 and 12, respectively. Yesterday saw a wave of cancellations; everything from some school districts (including JCPS, starting Monday) to some early Derby Festival events, college and high school basketball tournaments and some worship services.

Courts will be canceled come Monday, per an order signed last night. Here’s what the scene looked like yesterday at the Jefferson County Courthouse.

Like many people in Louisville, the WFPL News staff is working remotely when possible as a precautionary measure. If you want to reach us to share your story, send us an email at news@wfpl.org.

Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear will give another update around 9 a.m.; we’ll bring you that here on this page and on 89.3 WFPL.

Thursday, March 12:

9:16 p.m.: There are now 11 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Kentucky.

8:30 p.m.: Archdiocese of Louisville Catholic Schools will be closed Monday, March 16, 2020 through Friday, April 3, 2020 in response to Governor Andy Beshear’s recommendation that all Kentucky schools close as one of several preventive measures to address the COVID-19 outbreak. All Catholic school activities are also canceled during this time. – Jess Clark

6:57 p.m.: Leaders of the Kentucky legislature say they won’t conduct business on Friday or Monday in response to the coronavirus.

In a joint statement from the Republican and Democratic leaders of the state House and Senate, lawmakers said they would likely reconvene on Tuesday but that the break would allow them to “evaluate safety procedures as we move through the remainder of session.”
Lawmakers have 14 more working days in this year’s session, which is required to end by the end of April 15th.

The main task lawmakers have to complete during the session is write a two-year state budget, though they are considering hundreds of other pieces of legislation.

Hundreds of people work in the state Capitol in Frankfort every day during the legislative session. Building administrators have taken only preliminary precautions to address coronavirus like distancing chairs in committee rooms and closing the cafeteria eating area. – Ryland Barton

6:10 p.m.: Jefferson County Public Schools will close March 16 until April 6. Lunches will be available to all students at 35 community sites that will be on JCPS’ website.

5:43 p.m.: Gov. Andy Beshear recommended closing all schools across the state – public and private – to prevent the spread of COVID-19. He’s asking schools to close Monday Mar. 16, and stay closed for two weeks.

“This is a big but necessary step,” Beshear said. “Announcing it gives our superintendents, principals, teachers and parents time to prepare and it will give our schools time to provide the at homes assignments and guidance that are needed.”

Beshear joins the governors of Ohio and Maryland in calling for statewide school closures.

As we reported earlier today, not all of Kentucky’s school districts (including its two largest, Jefferson and Fayette counties) are ready with Non-Traditional Instruction plans.

5:03 p.m.: Gov. Andy Beshear says there are two more probable positive tests in Kentucky. One is in Jefferson County and one in Fayette County.

4:27 p.m.: The NCAA has canceled all remaining championships, including the men’s basketball tournament.

3:44 p.m.: The Episcopal Diocese of Kentucky is urging its congregations to suspend worship services and other gatherings for the next two weeks, according to a statement released Thursday afternoon.

Bishop Terry White said the decision followed a conference call with Gov. Andy Beshear and members of his COVID-19 task force.

“Responding to the reality of the Coronavirus in our communities is a profoundly pastoral matter which requires the flexibility Episcopalians are known for when we are at our best,” White said. “Different situations and contexts may call for different responses. I join Bishop Van Koevering in humbly inviting you to practice a Lenten fast from public worship, meetings, and social gatherings as an act of love toward your neighbor, especially those who are most vulnerable to the risk factors of this virus.” – Kate Howard

3:04 p.m.: Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine has announced a three week spring break for the state’s children, starting Monday.

2:45 p.m.: Houses of worship in the Louisville area are taking varying approaches to services as the weekend approaches. On Wednesday, Gov. Andy Beshear encouraged congregations to cancel upcoming services to prevent further spread.

Southeast Christian Church, which previously said it would hold most services, announced Thursday afternoon it is suspending “all large in-person gatherings” and instead meeting exclusively online through Sunday on YouTube, Facebook and its website.

Beargrass Christian Church is also canceling all services and events starting Friday at 2 p.m. through Monday. “We make this decision not out of fear but out of love for all,” the church said in a press release.

Meanwhile, others in the community are continuing with services and activities.

The Archdiocese of Louisville is not canceling services. In a directive Wednesday, Archbishop Joseph Kurtz wrote, “I want individuals who feel vulnerable, especially senior citizens or those with underlying health conditions, to know that they are not obligated to attend Sunday Mass.” Masses this weekend will be available to stream online and on TV. The Archdiocese is letting individual parishes decide whether to continue holding fish fries.

Rabbi Joe Rooks Rapport of the Temple on Brownsboro Rd. will proceed with smaller services and activities this weekend while encouraging those over 60 or with underlying medical conditions to participate via livestream when possible. “If you’re going to be going out to a restaurant, working out at the gym, going to work, going to school, then the social contact associated with going to services isn’t unique in that regard as particularly dangerous,” he said.

Rapport said he agreed with Gov. Beshear that people should avoid large crowds, which is why the Temple is rescheduling larger events for now. – Amina Elahi

1:54 p.m.: Six Kentucky school districts have closed to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Harrison County Schools was the first district to close, after three confirmed cases in the community. On Thursday morning, Owen County Schools announced it would close for the day after a school employee was potentially exposed to the virus. Boyle County Schools announced Thursday afternoon they would close through April 10 as a preventative measure. Boone County, Lincoln County and Danville Independent will also close.

Yesterday, Gov. Andy Beshear said schools need to be prepared to close within 72 hours, but some districts are more prepared than others. Kentucky Department of Education spokeswoman Toni Konz Tatman suggested the governor may be on the verge of announcing school closures.

“Any closures that will happen in the near future will be done on strong recommendation by the governor,” Konz Tatman said.

Previously the department had been directing districts to rely on their local health departments. – Jess Clark

1:09 p.m.: The status of the home opener for LouCity FC, the professional men’s soccer team, is in question, a spokesman for the team said following the United Soccer League’s announcement that it is suspending the 2020 season for 30 days. Howie Lindsay with LouCity said in an email, “30 days from today is April 11 so we are seeking clarity from the league. The team will continue to train.” – Amina Elahi

12:30 p.m.: As of Thursday morning, the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Kentucky remains at 8. However, a Humana employee in Louisville has received a presumptive positive from a non-certified lab, Gov. Andy Beshear said during a 12:00 briefing. Regardless, the governor says the number of cases will rise and Kentuckians should anticipate ongoing disruption to their everyday lives for at least the next couple months.

Beshear says 16 Kentucky residents who were aboard the Grand Princess cruise ship will return to the state. The National Guard will escort the residents. All of them have tested negative for COVID-19 and will remain under self-quarantine for 14 days following their return, Beshear said. – Ryan Van Velzer

12:12 p.m.: The ACC, SEC, AAC and Big Ten have all canceled their conference tournaments, citing the spread of the coronavirus.

The University of Louisville is part of the Atlantic Coast Conference, and was scheduled to play Syracuse on Thursday night.

The Courier Journal reports University of Louisville athletics director Vince Tyra will offer more details at 1 p.m.

11:18 a.m.: The Indiana State Department of Health has confirmed two more COVID-19 cases in Indiana, bringing the state’s total to 12.

11:07 a.m.: In the wake of Gov. Andy Beshear’s call for canceling religious services, the Episcopal Diocese of Kentucky is still weighing “the very real public health concerns alongside the nourishment Christians receive” at church.

The Rev. Canon. Amy Real Coultas, Canon to the Ordinary for the Kentucky diocese, said in an emailed statement Wednesday evening that the diocese and church leaders are in frequent conversation about its next steps.

“We do believe God has given us the gift of wisdom and science to provide markers for how to move forward,” Coultas said.

She encouraged all people to follow CDC recommendations, and that individuals who are at high risk in contracting the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 to avoid gatherings that put them in close proximity to others.

At least three cases have been diagnosed in attendees of a Louisville conference last month of Episcopal clergy called CEEP. In the first case, a Washington, D.C. pastor began feeling sick a couple days after leaving Louisville. DC Health officials said he posed no risk since he was asymptomatic during the Louisville conference. But two other cases have been diagnosed since then in conference attendees.

Coultas said the Kentucky diocese hasn’t gotten any additional information from CEEP or public health officials since they were told the DC case posed no risk. – Kate Howard

10:11 a.m.: Humana spokeswoman Kate Marx confirmed via email that one of the company’s employees who works in the Waterside building has preliminarily tested positive for COVID-19. Here’s the statement:

“As the coronavirus situation evolves, we’ve been focused on two guiding principles: protecting the health and well-being of our teammates and minimizing any potential disruption to our ability to care for members and patients.

“We can confirm that one of our employees who works in the Waterside building has preliminarily tested positive for COVID-19. We are unable to share further detail given patient privacy and confidentiality. Out of an abundance of caution, employees who work in proximity to this individual have been notified and have been asked to self-quarantine and follow CDC guidelines. They are out on leave and are being paid as usual.”

9:28 a.m.: The Courier Journal is reporting that a Humana employee in Louisville has tested positive for the coronavirus. According to the newspaper, Humana told employees in an email this morning they should work from home if able.

8:00 a.m.: Yesterday, we saw the cancellation — or suggested cancellation — of Kentucky worship services and the Louisville St. Patrick’s Day parade. The NCAA announced it wouldn’t have fans at this year’s tournament, the NBA suspended all games after a Utah Jazz player tested positive for coronavirus and President Trump banned all travel from Europe for the next 30 days. There’s no word yet if Gov. Andy Beshear will update reporters this morning; if he does, we’ll bring it to you live here and on 89.3 WFPL.

Wednesday, March 11:

9:30 p.m.: President Trump is banning all travel from Europe to the U.S. for the next 30 days, beginning on Friday at midnight. This doesn’t apply to travelers from the United Kingdom. Here’s more from NPR.

5:10 p.m.:  There are no new cases of Covid-19 from the coronavirus today, according to Gov. Andy Beshear. He said he was glad he didn’t have to call any county judge-executives with news of new cases today. In his latest briefing, the governor continued to urge Kentuckians to look out for each other and to prepare for additional cases. He said he met with school superintendents but is not asking schools to close at this point. He did say legislation is moving in the General Assembly that would add 10 extra days to the school calendar which would not have to be made up. He says he believes those days will be needed eventually. – Eleanor Klibanoff

4:53 p.m.: Now it’s official: NCAA President Mark Emmert says NCAA Division I basketball tournament games will be played without fans in the arenas because of concerns about the spread of coronavirus. Emmert says he made the decision to conduct both the men’s and women’s tournaments, which begin next week, with only essential staff and limited family in attendance. – Associated Press

4:52 p.m.:  No St. Patrick’s Day parade this weekend. John O’Dwyer, president of the Ancient Order of Hibernians, whose charitable arm runs the city’s St. Patrick’s Day parade said the event, which was scheduled for this Saturday, will be postponed. “We will look forward and try to set this up again in the future,” O’Dwyer said at a press conference with Mayor Greg Fischer and other officials. “It’s important not just for the wellbeing and the fun of the community, but there are a lot of businesses that run their business plan around that day…so we are not going to give up the cause, we’re just going to do it in a safe manner.” – Amina Elahi

4:45 p.m.: Mayor Greg Fischer announced there are no additional confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Louisville at this time. He said the patient diagnosed over the weekend has been discharged from Norton Brownsboro Hospital and will complete isolation at home. – Amina Elahi

4:31 p.m.: Sorry basketball fans: the NCAA is recommending not having this year’s tournament open to the public. Full statement:

“The NCAA COVID-19 Advisory Panel recognizes the fluidity of COVID-19 and its impact on hosting events in a public space. COVID-19 is spreading rapidly in the United States, and behavioral risk mitigation strategies are the best option for slowing the spread of this disease. This is especially important because mildly symptomatic individuals can transmit COVID-19. Given these considerations, coupled with a more unfavorable outcome of COVID-19 in older adults – especially those with underlying chronic medical conditions – we recommend against sporting events open to the public. We do believe sport events can take place with only essential personnel and limited family attendance, and this protects our players, employees, and fans.”

2:59 p.m.: Some hospitals and long-term care facilities in Kentucky are restricting visitors to help stem the spread of coronavirus among the most vulnerable populations.

In southern Kentucky, The Medical Center, which owns the Cal Turner Rehab and Specialty Care facility in Scottsville, Kentucky is barring visitors except those seeing patients in end of life care. TJ Samson Community Hospital in Glasgow is also restricting visitors in its skilled nursing unit.

The decisions follow an executive order by Governor Andy Beshear aimed at protecting the most vulnerable populations from potential exposure to coronavirus. – Lisa Autry, WKU Public Radio

2:22 p.m.: The University of Louisville announced Wednesday it is extending spring break through March 17. Starting Wednesday, March 18, through April 5, all classes will be delivered remotely. The University of Kentucky will remain open, but instruction will continue through online or other alternatives from March 23 through April 3.

Bellarmine University announced Wednesday that face-to-face classes and activities are suspended from Thursday, March 12, until Wednesday, March 18, when courses will resume online or electronically. The administration anticipates students returning to classrooms on April 1, but that is subject to change.

Here’s a list of other colleges and university closures in the region from the Ohio Valley ReSource.

1:59 p.m.: A third attendee at the CEEP conference in Louisville has been diagnosed with coronavirus, according to a statement from the Omni Louisville Hotel, which hosted the conference. General Manager Scott Stuckey said in the statement that the hotel remains in contact with the leadership from the conference, and has notified the Louisville health department about this development. – Eleanor Klibanoff

1:37 p.m.: Our friends at Do502 are keeping an up-to-date list of all the events around town that are being canceled due to concerns about the spread of the new coronavirus. Check it out here, and let them know if you hear of another cancellation.

12:32 p.m.: The World Health Organization has officially characterized COVID-19 as a pandemic.

“Pandemic is not a word to use lightly or carelessly. It is a word that, if misused, can cause unreasonable fear, or unjustified acceptance that the fight is over, leading to unnecessary suffering and death,” said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

11:53 a.m.: A second attendee of a Louisville conference has been diagnosed with coronavirus. Rev. Dr. Robert Pace, rector of Trinity Episcopal Church in Fort Worth, Texas, has tested positive and is hospitalized in isolation, according to the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth. Pace attended the Conference of Endowed Episcopal Parishes (CEEP) Network conference at the Omni Louisville Hotel in late February. On Monday, DC Health issued a statement saying that Rector Rev. Tim Cole, the first confirmed coronavirus case in Washington, D.C., had been asymptomatic at the conference and posed no risk to conference attendees. – Eleanor Klibanoff

11:10 a.m.: Indiana’s number of reported cases of COVID-19 is up to 10.

11:00 a.m.: Derby is big business for Louisville. Louisville Tourism projects the economic impact in the region of this year’s Derby and Oaks will be more than $394 million, and expects the events to draw more than 256,000 attendees. The agency believes Thunder will have an additional value of more than $16 million and attract 725,000 attendees. So….what would the impact be if Derby is cancelled? What about if it goes on, and nobody shows up?

Here’s more on this.

9:19 a.m. As of Wednesday morning there are no new cases of COVID-19 from the coronavirus in Kentucky. The number of cases remains at eight, according to Gov. Andy Beshear. In his morning briefing, Beshear said 54 tests have been administered, 46 have returned negative for the virus, with eight being positive.

He announced new steps to contain the spread of the virus, saying that it’s clear the virus has been community spread. Beshear announced that the state is temporarily canceling visitation at state prisons and facilities.

The governor also recommended that all places of worship cancel services this week.

He and his staff continued to stress maintaining proper hygiene. The most strenuous recommendation from the governor? Do not go on cruises. – Mike Edgerly

Tuesday, March 10:

5:00 p.m. Gov. Andy Beshear says there are now eight positive cases of COVID-19 from the coronavirus. The additional two cases are in Harrison County and are connected, according to the governor. Apart from Harrison County, two of the cases are in Fayette County and one in Jefferson County. – Mike Edgerly

4:06 p.m.: Indiana University is suspending classroom teaching for the two weeks following the school’s spring break, which starts next week. In a letter sent today, President Michael A. McRobbie said students would be able to continue work virtually whenever possible.

“The steps that we are taking are necessary to help ensure the continuing good health of our community,” he wrote. “On behalf of Indiana University, I am grateful to all of you in advance for your patience, support and dedication as we work together to energetically address the problems associated with COVID-19.”

The school also launched a website with daily updates on the situation.

3:00 p.m.: The Louisville jail will move to limit visits to video conferences. At a briefing Tuesday, Mayor Greg Fischer said he anticipated visits would be restricted, similar to how nursing homes and other long-term care facilities are preventing visitors. “I’m not sure if that’s in place at this moment. But naturally, we’re going to try that same type of precaution (at Metro Corrections),” he said.

The Corrections website says, “Visitation is conducted by video conferencing.” It is not clear when this change went into effect.

Fischer’s spokeswoman Jean Fischer said in an email, “DOC visitation is always non-contact, so there is no interruption at this time.” – Amina Elahi

2:26 p.m.: Baptist Health is putting new visitor rules in place to prevent the spread of coronavirus. At its hospitals in Louisville, La Grange and New Albany patients in Intensive Care Units, Telemetry and Medical-Surgery units will only be allowed two visitors at a time from immediate family. Guides for visitors to maternity and NICU are available from each hospital.

In a release sent out on Tuesday, Baptist Health stressed that anyone with fever, runny nose, body aches or respiratory symptoms should not visit.

Baptist Health is allowing clergy for palliative, emergent and hospice care along with immediate family. – Mike Edgerly

2:00 p.m.: In a briefing Tuesday, Louisville officials offered additional limited details about the Jefferson County patient diagnosed with COVID-19. In his daily press briefing, Mayor Greg Fischer said the patient is a 69-year-old man. “He’s a traveler and what we mean by that is this is a person that’s been moving around the country, maybe outside of the country as well, as opposed to just community-spread,” Fischer said, referring to how the man may have contracted the virus.

Dr. Sarah Moyer, director of the Louisville Metro Department of Public Health and Wellness, confirmed the patient flew into Louisville Muhammad Ali International Airport and said airport employees and tenants were informed that the patient passed through there and presented a low risk. She said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is responsible for informing anyone on the flight who may have been in close contact with the patient.

Moyer said her department was aware of all the people the patient came into contact with after arriving in Louisville and before going to the hospital, and that they had followed up with those people. She did not provide more details, except to say there were no places for the public to avoid tied to this particular case. – Amina Elahi

1:30 p.m.: A Kentucky jail has been placed on lockdown after several inmates became sick.

Bullitt County Detention Center Chief Deputy Carl Reesor told WDRB-TV that six inmates have a high fever and several others are exhibiting flu-like symptoms. He said the lockdown began Tuesday morning and no one is being allowed in or out of the facility.

Reesor says nurses are administering tests to identify the illness. According to the jail’s website, there were about 300 inmates housed in the facility Tuesday. Calls to the jail by The Associated Press and WFPL News were not answered. – The Associated Press

1:00 p.m.: Berea College, a private liberal arts institution in Madison County, announced on Tuesday that it would cancel classes for the rest of the semester due to worries about its ability to respond to the coronavirus.

In a statement, Berea President Lyle Roelofs said the college would not be able to assure “student and employee safety in the circumstance of a case of COVID-19 occurring on campus.”

Classes will be canceled at the end of the day on Friday and students have been asked to move out by Saturday, though accommodations can be provided to students experiencing hardships. – Ryland Barton

11:00 a.m.: The Washington, D.C. pastor who was diagnosed with coronavirus weeks after attending a conference in Louisville was “asymptomatic” while at the conference, DC Health said Monday.

“There is no identified risk of exposure to CEEP conference attendees as a result of contact with this case,” DC Health said in a statement. – Eleanor Klibanoff

10:00 a.m. In his morning briefing, Gov. Andy Beshear told reporters that he expects testing to ramp up in the coming days, and the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the state to increase. Cabinet officials announced new guidance to prevent the spread of the virus in nursing homes and long-term care facilities in the state—restricting visitors to long-term care facilities.

The restrictions are mandatory for state-run facilities, but the governor strongly recommended that all long-term care facilities and nursing homes restrict access to visitors to limit the spread of COVID-19. – Ryan Van Velzer

6:00 a.m.: In Kentucky, nursing homes and their residents are especially vulnerable to the new coronavirus. Federal data show that infection control has been a problem at nursing homes across Kentucky, and facilities are already running low on protective gear and qualified staff.

Monday, March 9

State officials warn there are signs coronavirus is spreading in the community, but too early to predict how far it will spread. Gov. Andy Beshear issues an executive order to waive virus testing fees for those who are state employees or have private health insurance; this is expected to affect 460,000 Kentuckians. There are two more confirmed cases of COVID-19, both in Harrison County, bringing the state total to six.

Sunday, March 8

Gov. Andy Beshear confirms three more confirmed cases of coronavirus in Kentucky, bringing the state total to four. Patients are in Jefferson, Fayette and Harrison counties, and all are being treated in isolation. State officials haven’t released any information on how individuals contracted the virus.

In Washington D.C., a pastor gets sick after returning from a conference in Louisville in late February.

Here’s more.

Saturday, March 7

The state’s first patient is a Harrison County resident, in treatment at UK Chandler Hospital. Harrison County schools will be closed at least part of next week; Gov. Andy Beshear recommends nursing homes close to visitors for the next week.

Nationwide, there are more than 300 confirmed coronavirus cases. Nineteen have died, with 14 associated with a nursing home near Seattle.

Here’s more.

Friday, March 6

Kentucky has its first confirmed case of COVID-19 from coronavirus. The patient is in isolation in the hospital in Lexington, being treated. Of 10 people tested, this was the state’s first positive test. Indiana also confirms its first case of the virus.

Here’s more.