Governor talks tough numbers; 114 new cases, seven deaths; grocery employees now essential

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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ) – Gov. Andy Beshear talked tough numbers and tough steps during his daily briefing Tuesday, reporting 114 new cases of coronavirus and seven new deaths.

Both were highs for a day in the state.

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The governor also expanded the child care emergency option to grocery store workers, is allowing police, fire, corrections and related departments to hire back retirees without hurting the retirees’ retirement, and said it is too early to say how long schools will remain out but beyond April 20 is a possibility.

Of the new cases, 58 were in Jefferson County and 17 were in Fayette. Among other counties in the region, three were in Jessamine, and one each were in Clark, Madison, Montgomery, Madison, Pulaski, Rockcastle, Wooford, Scott, Henry, Anderson and Bourbon counties.

It pushes the state total to 594. The state now has seen 18 deaths.

The seven deaths included an person in their 80s in Campbell County, an 88-year-old woman in Fayette County, a 74-year-old man in Bullock County, and four in Jefferson County — an 87-year-old woman, an 81-year-old woman, a 74-year-old man and a 66-year-old man.

All also had other health issues as well.

“Cases are spreading in just about every crowd,” Beshear said. “We have to get this right.

“We will be in this for at least another month,” he said referring to closures being extended to April 30 or beyond. “We have to show true strength and resiliency. If you haven’t cut your contacts with people by 75 percent, you must figure out how you can.”

“None of us know how widespread this is going to get. But we can reduce it,” he said. noting states like New York and Louisiana haven’t reached their peak.

“The more people we will save and protect by cutting our contact,” the governor said, including yard sales in the list of things that “must not be done” because they are “gathering spots.”

On schools, Beshear said administrators are weighing all the evidence and federal issues before deciding whether to extend the school closures. Beshear said he expects to make a decision possibly by the end of the week.

“It certainly is within the realm of possibility that schools will stay closed longer,” Beshear said.

On the other issues, Beshear said grocery store employees now are classified as health care and first responders so they can take care of the emergency child care placements and facilities.

“We have to have enough people to make sure our grocery stores are staffed and operating and they can get the child care they need,” Beshear said, noting they, too, walk into potential danger each day.

On retirees, he said having them not only brings additional security but also could mean keeping a department open.

“If a department gets a case of the coronavirus an has to quarantine some other staff it could wipe out a whole department in some communities,” Beshear said of the move, which allows retirees to work without penalizing their retirement payments.

The first trial run on drive-through testing will begin tomorrow in Franklin County and hopefully “grow rapidly” from there.