FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ) – The state has received access to the $600 increase in unemployment benefits and payments will start Thursday evening, Gov. Andy Beshear announced Wednesday during his daily briefing.
He warned churches and other groups about this weekend.
Beshear also announced 204 new cases, by far the biggest one-day number of the year. That brings the state’s total to 1,346.
The state suffered eight more deaths, including four from Jefferson, three from Christian County and one from Calloway. That raises the state’s total to 73 deaths.
Of the state’s total cases, 339 have recovered, 205 are hopsitalized and 93 are in ICU.
The hotspot in nursing homes continues with four more reporting cases, bringing the total to 25 nursing homes. That includes 17 more patients and 13 more staff members.
At least 10 of the facilities only have staff members and not patients, the governor announced.
And the governor stressed “no mass gatherings” this weekend, as “difficult as that is” during the Easter weekend. He also pushed back on hints in some parts of the country that coronavirus restrictions may be eased in some cases.
He said the state has at least 17 cases of churches or “other entities” that plan to have services or gatherings this weekend.
“We are working with local officials to do everything we can to prevent this from happening,” he stated.
If they persist, “they probably can expect to see us,” Beshear warned.
As for gatherings, Beshear again stated, “We have to make sure we do this right.”
He noted Japan relaxed restrictions only to see the coronavirus come back even stronger and create serious problems.
“We don’t want to make that mistake,” he said of the early optimism.
He said the state will monitor statistics and cases and look for a “serious” pattern before considering lifting some restrictions and even then it would be in phases, certain areas and particular groups.
And he declared the Easter Bunny an “essential worker” who can do its job this weekend.
On unemployment money, the state received word at about 5 p.m. of the access to the federal funds that will mean the $600 a week in increased benefits.
“Those payments will start Thursday evening,” the governor said.
In addition, the state has called up the first four health care medical students who have volunteered to assist the state and serve in the field. They are volunteers and all four are third-year medical students either from the University of Kentucky or Kentucky College of Medicine.
With he one-shopper-per-family order, the state formalized a directive many counties already were implementing, limiting shopping to one person for family.
The idea is to give retailers a tool to help enforce the limits and to use “common sense” to address crowding, Beshear said. The order includes provisions for exceptions, such as single parents.
The orders also ban door-to-door sales and soliciting and allow pharmacies to fill prescriptions without the person having to see a doctor. In addition, pharmacists can use telehealth, Beshear announced.
The governor hopes the first 250 beds at the emergency hospital at the Louisville fairgrounds will be available in two weeks and then “expand from there” if needed.