A “permanent” coronavirus test site will open this week in Bowling Green, Gov. Andy Beshear said Tuesday.
The drive-through site will open Friday at Walmart on Morgantown Road.
The Bowling Green site is one of seven opening across Kentucky on Friday through a state partnership with Walmart.
Tests are by appointment only. People may sign up at doineedacovid19test.com.
Asked why Warren County, with a population of about 132,000, has the second-highest number of cases statewide at 828, Beshear said a number of factors are at play. Jefferson County, which has the state’s largest population with about 766,000 people, has the most cases at 1,959.
“This is how clusters work,” Beshear said. “And if we’re not following all the guidelines, if our businesses aren’t taking all of the steps they need to, a county can have a lot of cases very quickly and we’ve seen that in other counties before.”
He said there is a connection to a meat-packing facility that has resulted in more cases. While he did not name the specific facility, he has previously mentioned an outbreak at Perdue Farms in nearby Ohio County.
In addition, local officials said Warren County has tested about 6 percent of its population, which is twice the statewide rate.
Last week, state public health commissioner Dr. Steven Stack said medical student volunteers would be sent to Med Center Health to help with a surge in the area. Med Center spokeswoman Corie Martin did not immediately respond to a request for comment sent Tuesday regarding those volunteers.
Beshear also announced 20 new virus-related deaths Tuesday, the state’s highest single-day increase yet, bringing the total to 366.
“While I believe that we can reopen safely and do it gradually, let’s remember that this thing is still deadly and it is still taking people we love and care about,” he said.
He also reported 164 newly confirmed cases, 90 of which are probable, raising the total statewide to 8,069. Of those cases, 2,826 have reportedly recovered and 443 are currently hospitalized, 269 of which are in intensive care.
In the Barren River Area Development District’s 10-county region, there are 1,061 coronavirus cases: 828 in Warren, 217 in Butler, 94 in Logan, 50 in Edmonson, 39 in Simpson, 41 in Allen, 34 in Barren, 16 in Hart, six in Monroe and three in Metcalfe, according to the Kentucky Department of Public Health COVID-19 Dashboard.
In a news release Tuesday, the Barren River District Health Department announced 1,260 total cases: 818 in Warren, 208 in Butler, 48 in Edmonson, 98 in Logan, 36 in Simpson, 29 in Barren, 20 in Hart and three in Metcalfe. Of those, 464 people have reportedly recovered. The department also reported 23 deaths, including nine in Edmonson, six in Butler, three in both Warren and Logan and two in Simpson.
There are at least 43 cases in Allen County, according to the Allen County Health Department, which is not part of the Barren River district.
Totals often differ between the state data and local health departments because of different reporting methods.
During the governor’s daily briefing in Frankfort, he also announced more businesses that may reopen or expand services in June.
Museums, outdoor attractions, aquariums, libraries and distilleries may reopen June 8.
Asked if summer camps are included in child care reopening June 15, Beshear said only if camps can meet the child care requirements. He said camps involving sports must be able to meet sports guidelines.
He also said he hopes to have child care reopening guidance available on the state website by the end of this week, and that it will largely focus on group size and reducing contacts.
“That doesn’t mean you can’t run multiple groups if you can ensure that they don’t come into contact with each other. It’s trying to put a bubble around that number of kids and their contacts,” he said.
As for the four children recently diagnosed with the virus-related illness multi-syndrome pediatric inflammatory syndrome, Beshear said there are no other confirmed cases, but the state is calling “every minor” in the state who tested positive for the virus “to check on them.”
“It could very much impact child care and youth sports (reopening),” he said. “But I hope everyone would want that if we figure out that it’s gonna become more widespread than it is.”
Beshear also answered a question about whether the one adult per household rule in essential businesses enacted in early April will apply to retail stores opening Wednesday. The mandate doesn’t apply to minors or to adults who are accompanying another adult who must be supervised because of their age, disability or physical/mental impairment.
“This is always a hard rule to enforce, but it’s one that we want to highly encourage everywhere,” he said.
“(It’s) good for the stores because if they have an overall capacity limit and you bring in your entire family, they get less shoppers … and the more that we can cut down on the group or the social setting, the safer that it can be.”
– Follow multimedia journalist Emily Zantow on Twitter @EmilyZantowNews or visit bgdailynews.com.