FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ) – The state is worried about the coronavirus spreading through nursing homes and other senior centers, Gov. Andy Beshear said Tuesday. And the governor urged health care workers to reject the growing lure of hefty payments being offered to come to some other states.
He also once again addressed shortcomings in the state’s unemployment filing and continued to take full responsibility for the faulty system.
And finally, he hinted he may actually order churches not to hold services when asked what action he would take or penalties that might be imposed for groups holding large gatnherings.
He also reported 147 new cases and seven new deaths, including four from Jefferson, two from Lyon and one in Adair, that county’s first death.
The new cases was the highest daily total, but part of that likely is due to delays in reporting caused by the weekend. The three-day average was about 80 which was well below the average of more than 90 in the three days prior to that.
Th state now has 65 total deaths and 1,149 total cases.
Based on the numbers of about 68 percent of the total cases, 79.25 percent of the state’s cases are in whites, 12 percent are in blacks and the remainder are spread across other races, Beshear said.
Knowing the state is moving into the heart of Easter week and all it means to churches and families, Beshear urged residents to “please stick” with safety and health standards to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
Beshear applauded health care workers for their work here, but almost pleaded with them not to accept the lure of big money being offered by some other states to try to lure health care workers away.
“We need you, we hope you stick with us. Your efforts are going to be incredibly important to Kentuckians,” Beshear said.
Nursing homes are one of three areas the state is worried about the spread of the deadly virus.
“We have to do what we can to prevent the spread to these facilities,” Beshear said, citing terrible problems in nursing homes in Indiana, Alabama and some other states.
The state has 55 nursing home residents who have tested positive and 22 staff with 11 deaths so far. In addition, 55 tests of residents are pending and 41 staff tests are pending, he said.
The others are prisons, especially the Green River Correctional facility, where nine inmates and five staff have tested positive. So far, it is the only correctional facility with positive cases, but the state is working to take care of those and prevent others.
The third area is Western State Hospital, which has nine patients and four staff with positive cases.
Dr. Steven Stack, director of the state’s health department, said the state will start ramping up testing across the state this week for tier one patients who are most at risk and then expand it as possible.
But that’s not yet drive-through testing, Beshear said, which remains slowed by the availability of PPEs and related supplies.
Even part of the expanded testing depends on the number of tests and the availability of swabs, Stack said. The state is working with 32 hospitals across the state outside of the Lexington-Louisville and Northern Kentucky area to coordinate the tests to first responders and health care workers and people who are over 60 and are showing some possible symptoms.
The state’s unemployment director said the state continues to hire and train people to handle unemployment claims, answer phone lines and work cases. By the end of this week, the state will have 1,000 to 1,200 people in the phone center, he said.
That compares to 12 during normal times.
“It is our priority,” Beshear said.
He also said the state hopes the additional $600 from the state government will start as early as this week. “It still is waiting on the federal funds to arrive,” he said.