88 news cases, seven deaths; Beshear dismisses ‘open now’ protests

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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ) – With a noisy crowd (listen to the attached video) chanting and protesting outside his briefing room, Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear reported 88 new cases with another 50 or more still to be input into a new system.

That brings to 2,291 the number so far in the state.

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He also reported seven new deaths, bringing the state total to 122.

Of the new cases, seven were in Jefferson, two were in Fayette, Kenton and Adair, three were in Jackson, and one each were in a number of counties, including Floyd, Lincoln and Woodford, Beshear said.

The deaths included four in Jefferson.

During much of the press conference, protesters outside could be heard chanting things like “Open up Kentucky” and “Let us Work” and “We want to work” and “Abortion is not essential,” the last referring to the state continuing to allow abortions while not allowing elective medical procedures.

“We can’t step back one moment,” Beshear said, dismissing those comments.

As a show of support, people started driving to the capitol and confronting the protesters, telling them to be quiet.

“Opening up now would cause the deaths of more Kentuckians. We are doing what it takes to protect people,” Beshear stated when asked about the protesters.

“We have not reached our peaks, we have to keep this up, we are no at halftime yet,” he stated.

“I am not here to make popular decisions, I have to make the right decisions,” he stated. “We can’t step back one moment.”

The governor said he and the administration have been having conversations with the governors in Ohio and Indiana on plans to reopen. They also are agreeing on metrics to use to make those decisions and what areas might be opened in what order.

“We will continue planning and working together to reopen when it is right,” Beshear said. “We will do it thoughtfully and responsibly…we want to make sure we don’t open things up and re-spread the disease.”

At one point he agreed the group was violating social distancing and in-person gathering orders and could force action although he didn’t say he planned to do anything.

“It’s really concerning,” he said.

On other immediate matters, he said local health departments will have to make sure places like Amazon are doing everything they can to protect employees. That comes after more reports of workers being confirmed with the coronavirus at its Lex2 facility on Trade Street in Lexington.

That facility, along with the distribution center in Shepherdsville, have been reporting cases for the last two weeks.

The state’s testing capacity is expanding. At the new Kroger station in Frankfort this week, technicians tested 100 people Monday, 183 Tuesday and at least 155 Wednesday with one more day remaining. In the first day in Kenton Wednesday, at least 201 were tested with three days remaining.

Four more sites will open next week with the locations to be announced Thursday, Beshear said.

Even more importantly, the state, the University of Louisville Hospital and other groups have partnered on pioneering work to test health care professionals and first responders who have been exposed to the coronavirus for potential antibodies and immunity to the disease.

The work hopefully will identify people with strong antibodies to donate plasma for treatment of the most seriously ill and to build a supply of plasma for treatment.

“This is really exciting,” Beshear said of the work and potential, noting it was “homegrown” work.