Coronavirus

Transmission electron microscopic image of an isolate from the first U.S. case of COVID-19. The spherical viral particles, colorized blue, contain cross-sections through the viral genome, seen as black dots.

Kentucky’s total coronavirus cases have risen to 917, with 92 new cases reported Saturday by Gov. Andy Beshear.

Of the new cases Beshear announced Saturday, five were from Simpson County and one was reported in Warren County. However, in a Facebook video posted Saturday evening, Simpson County Judge-Executive Mason Barnes said the five cases that Beshear announced had already been included in the 12 Simpson County cases previously announced by the Barren River District Health Department.

As of 7:15 p.m. Saturday, the health department had not updated its case total for its eight-county region. As of Friday evening, the 42 cases in the area included 20 in Warren County, one in Barren County, one in Butler County, five in Edmonson County, three in Logan County and 12 in Simpson County.

Beshear also announced three additional deaths related to the virus, bringing the state’s total to 40.

The governor said that at least 16,663 people in the state have been tested for the virus and 76 people are currently hospitalized with the viral respiratory illness.

There has been one death to date in the eight-county region served by the Barren River District Health Department.

During his Saturday briefing, Beshear touted the effectiveness of social distancing and remaining at home to avoid spreading the virus, pointing to a reduction in cases of the flu from week to week last month.

A bar graph shown by the governor showed flu cases in the state decreasing from around 2,000 during the first week of March to a little fewer than 500 during the last week of the month.

“If we stick with this, if we follow the rules and restrictions, we will absolutely lessen the spread of the coronavirus,” Beshear said.

The governor spoke about new guidance issued Friday from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which recommends the wearing of cloth masks in public.

Answering a question, Beshear said he would wear a mask when appropriate, and then went on to say he has not been in a car in 18 days and has remained either at home or at the Capitol in Frankfort.

“I haven’t been traveling around because even though I’d like to go out there. ... I’m asking people to not spread and share those contacts and I’m trying to model that type of behavior, too,” Beshear said.

Beshear said the masks may help reduce the risk of the virus spreading when worn in public places when it is more difficult to maintain social distancing, but the masks should not be seen as a replacement for social distancing requirements.

The governor also shared the story of Aron Jordan, a 49-year-old Boyd County resident who died Tuesday from the virus.

Beshear said Jordan, a bricklayer, was working a job in Detroit and decided to quarantine there after he had become sick.

He is believed to be the youngest Kentuckian to die from the virus.

“An amazing person, loved by his family and by his community,” Beshear said. “Every one of these losses is very, very real.”

Eric Friedlander, acting secretary of the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services, urged people to apply online for Medicaid, pointing people to the state’s website where they can find an application enabling them to receive health care coverage through June.

Beshear said the state has struggled to obtain orders of personal protective equipment, saying that he hears from vendors that the federal government has often bought orders out from under states.

He also said that he hears from hospitals in the state that they are thinking about new ways for hospital-grade ventilators to be potentially of service to more than one person, and he has asked all major hospital systems to create plans to expand.

Currently, there are more ventilators in hospitals then there are people who have tested positive for the coronavirus.

Answering a question about a Maryville Baptist Church pastor who has continued to defy the state’s ban on mass gatherings, Beshear seemed exasperated.

“If you are still holding mass gatherings, church or otherwise, you are spreading the coronavirus and you are likely causing the death of Kentuckians,” Beshear said. “We care about each other in this state and our faith should guide us and give us the wisdom to do the right thing and protect each other.”

– Follow courts reporter Justin Story on Twitter @jstorydailynews or visit bgdailynews.com.

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