Health

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.

Additional drive-thru testing facilities will be opened elsewhere in the state in the coming days and weeks, Beshear said.

More information about the testing is available at Kroger Health’s website.

Case Totals Keep Climbing

Beshear said 134 new COVID-19 cases were recorded on Sunday, bringing the state’s total to at least 1,963. He said three additional people have died, bringing the death toll to 97 people.

African-Americans are disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic in Kentucky, according to statistics provided by Beshear. State officials have racial data for about 80 percent of cases in Kentucky. Though about 8 percent of the state’s population is black, more than 21 percent of the people who have died from the disease are black. 

“That’s not okay, it’s not right and it shows that there are problems in our Commonwealth,” he said. “I hope when we come out of this we correct a lot of things that we talk about a lot, but don’t necessarily have the will to do.”

Nursing homes continue to be hard hit by the pandemic. Beshear said 30 of Sunday’s new cases are staff or residents at long-term care facilities across the state. In Adair County, one nursing home has reported more than 30 cases to date.

“This virus comes for the most vulnerable,” Beshear said.

At least one more case has been confirmed at the Green River Correctional Complex in Central City, Beshear said. The 982-bed facility has recorded more than a dozen COVID-19 cases.

And he expects another positive case will be reported soon at Western State Hospital, an adult psychiatric hospital in Hopkinsville where more than a dozen cases have already been confirmed.

Holiday Brought A Few Mass Gatherings

Beshear praised the thousands of churches that adhered to his call to halt in-person gatherings on Easter Sunday. But, he said, at least seven churches did not. One of those churches, Maryville Baptist Church in Bullitt County, welcomed visitors from New Jersey, Beshear said.

He admonished that church for their brazen display of carelessness by allowing people from New Jersey, a state that’s considered a hotspot, to mingle with people here in Kentucky.

“If you’re somebody living in Bullitt County, or just right over the line in Jefferson, how do you feel about that?” he asked.

When asked whether he would support assigning ankle monitors to those who refuse to self-quarantine after the service, Beshear said he didn’t expect it to come to that, and he hoped the community would do the right thing.

He came under attack before his weekend for threatening to record license plates at churches where people gathered to celebrate Easter. But on Sunday, he brushed off any concern that such a move would damage his political capital.

“I’m way beyond politics at this point,” he said. “My job is to protect the people of this Commonwealth, popular or unpopular.”

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