Beshear on COVID critics: Some listening to ‘Dr. Pepper,’ not health experts

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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ) – The number of new coronavirus cases in the state remained on a “plateau” level Wednesday and the positivity test rate dropped slightly.

The state also announced Kroger testing is returning to Lexington.

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But Gov. Andy Beshear and Public Health Commissioner Dr. Steve Stack fired back at critics, including Senate President Robert Stivers II, who represents Clay, Knox, Lee, Owsley, Whitley, and Wolfe counties. During his own press conference, Stivers said he “doesn’t trust” the governor’s numbers.

“You can’t fantasize your way out…we can’t say harm won’t happen and harm not happen,” Stack said.

“We’ve got data from the White House that says the same thing ours says. I guess he doesn’t believe President Trump,” Beshear said of Stivers, who is a Republican like Trump. “People like that just do what they want to do…they are making decisions with Dr. Pepper, not health experts…they are just ignoring because they have things they want to do…I have things I want to do, too, we all do, but we have to do what is right.”

“There seems to be more concern sometimes for attacking than doing the right thing.

“The COVID-19 death toll is more than in several wars that we have fought,” the governor said. “I hope that we are committed to doing what it takes and making smart decisions to keep this virus on the decline. Not just so we can reopen businesses and schools, but so we can have fewer people die.”

“I know people are tired and want to get back to their normal lives. We are not here to separate people from their schools, jobs and social activities, but we cannot rationalize our way out of this. There’s a bad disease out there. We have no vaccine, cure or treatment. When it hits people it hits them hard, it causes hospitals to overcrowd and it takes lives,” Stack added. “We want to inspire you to do the right thing. Please listen to the public health professionals, here and around the nation. Every single one of us is saying the same thing: Wear masks, wash your hands, social distance.”

Beshear reported 655 new cases, bringing the state’s total to at least 40,926. Of the new cases, 15 were from children ages 5 and younger, including a 12-day-old baby in Jefferson County.

“Of the 655 new cases, 91 – which is 14% – are kids 18 years and younger,” the governor said.

Of the new cases, Fayette had 42, Franklin 25, Scott 21, Pulaski 14, Shelby 13, Clark 10, Johnson 8, Mason 6 ad Martin 3.

Beshear reported 12 new deaths, raising the total to 830 Kentuckians lost to the virus.

The deaths include an 82-year-old woman and an 86-year-old man from Barren County; a 79-year-old woman from Butler County; a 78-year-old man from Garrard County; a 75-year-old woman from Harlan County; a 58-year-old woman from Hart County; a 72-year-old man from Letcher County; an 81-year-old woman and a 91-year-old man from Logan County; an 82-year-old man from Mercer County; a 62-year-old man from Oldham County; and a 42-year-old man from Warren County.

“I don’t remember two days where we had this many deaths back-to-back, and it’s the result that we talked about earlier, that when you have 3,000 cases a week, the deaths follow a couple weeks after. We’re at that point now,” Beshear lamented, referring to the 12 deaths reported Tuesday.

The positivity rate currently stands at 5.41%. At least 9,331 Kentuckians have recovered from the virus.

For information, including up-to-date lists of positive cases and deaths, as well as breakdowns of coronavirus infections by county, race and ethnicity, click here.

Beshear announced Wednesday the state’s partnership with Kroger to provide free, drive-through testing is being extended in Lexington.

The testing will be done at Bluegrass Community & Technical College, 500 Newtown Pike.

“We know there have been testing shortages in this area, and so let’s make sure we fill up all of those appointments,” the Governor said.

To register and find more information on the testing, click here.

O other issues, the governor:

— Had promised to announce a new program o evictions Wednesday but said it will be Thursday.

“We’ve got to get some final details ironed out. We don’t want to put something out that’s not complete,” he said.

— Once again said Republican congressional leaders are missing the point o the need for clarity in supplemental funding for state governments. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell noted Wednesday the state has spent only 6 percent of the coronavirus funding it has received so far.

“The problem they keep missing is we ca’t spend most of that money on budget reconciliation. And if we sped it all right ow ad they don’t provide another round, we’ll have to cut our budget as much as 30 percent. We are stuck between a rock ad a hard place. If they are not going to do more, the tell the states and give us the flexibility to spend the existing money o budget issues ad we will go forward. The way it is right ow, it does’t allow for a informed decision,” Beshear said.