The number of coronavirus cases in Kentucky has topped 1,000 since the first case was reported in the state one month ago, according to an update Monday by Gov. Andy Beshear.
“Yes, we crossed the thousand mark – we knew that we always would,” Beshear said during his daily briefing in Frankfort, where he announced 54 new cases.
“Fifty-four is a lot less than we expected at this point, and the last two days are certainly less than the days before … (but) let’s not read anything into it until we see the following days,” he said.
An additional 14 people diagnosed with the virus have reportedly died since his last update Sunday, bringing the death toll statewide to 59.
Beshear added that some newly confirmed deaths were previously not reported to state health officials but might have already been reported by local health departments.
Statewide, 19,955 people have reportedly been tested, and at least 306 people diagnosed with the virus have recovered.
Meanwhile, the Barren River District Health Department reported 10 newly confirmed cases in a news release Monday: six new cases in Warren County and one additional case each in Barren, Butler, Logan and Simpson counties.
The 52 total cases in the eight-county Barren River district are made up of two in Barren County, two in Butler County, five in Edmonson County, four in Logan County, 13 in Simpson County and 26 in Warren County.
There has been one coronavirus-related death to date in the Barren River district. Fourteen of the 52 people diagnosed with the virus, which causes the respiratory disease COVID-19, have reportedly recovered as of Monday.
On Sunday, Beshear announced 38 newly confirmed cases, which was the smallest day-to-day increase since March 18, when he confirmed 35 new cases in the commonwealth. He also said Monday that he had announced a duplicate case Sunday, so the Sunday total was 954 cases, not 955.
He also said that during a phone call Monday, Vice President Mike Pence advised that this week Americans will experience “heartbreaking loss.”
Meanwhile, the governor announced that cabins at Kentucky state parks will soon be used for first responders who “are in quarantine – but haven’t tested positive – (but are) needing to be away from their family or others that they can spread it to.”
There are also plans in place to use state park lodges for additional coronavirus patients which would provide about 1,100 to 1,200 extra beds if needed.
“It’s a good use of those state parks and we’re excited to do it,” Beshear said.
The decision comes after he prohibited overnight stays at state park campgrounds last week.
In response to a question about placing ankle monitors on those who defy the 14-day self-quarantine order, Beshear said at least one person in Jefferson County has already been tracked that way. And he added that the state is considering using ankle monitors in other places, especially in localities without adequate tracking resources.
He also answered two questions regarding whether people can hold gatherings if everybody remains six feet apart. Beshear noted that even while social distancing, people might still touch the same things and cause the virus to spread.
Social distancing “can’t be a reason that we don’t stay at home,” Beshear said.
Asked about the potential for a federal tax credit for small businesses that are paying into unemployment, Beshear said U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., recently told him that the federal government believes there will be some additional relief, which Beshear thinks is necessary.
He explained that the federal government is going to have to be a “very significant player” in restarting the economy after the pandemic. And he wants “the maximum that the federal government will do, and (wants) them to do it fast” – adding that some federal funding might be coming to Kentucky on April 24.
“I want to minimize the number of small businesses that had to close their doors, because of the coronavirus, that won’t be able to reopen,” Beshear said.
“I know that there are some that won’t, and they will have made a very significant sacrifice. But if you look back on those (stay-at-home compliance) graphs that we’re showing – it’s working. And I hope that they feel, if they can, some pride that they are truly passing that test of humanity about putting peoples’ lives ahead of their own economic security.”