By Alex Acquisto
Four new cases of novel coronavirus were confirmed in Kentucky on Monday, bringing the statewide total to 25, Gov. Andy Beshear said.
The new COVID-19 cases are a 34-year-old woman in Jefferson County, a 74-year-old man in Fayette County, a 33-year-old woman in Fayette County and a 51-year old man in Montgomery County. There are now seven confirmed cases in Lexington and seven in Louisville.
Beshear also announced a series of restrictions to help slow the spread of COVID-19, including ordering the closure of child care centers by the end of Friday, mandating the end of in-person dining at Kentucky’s restaurants and bars, closing all government offices in Kentucky to in-person services by 5 p.m. Tuesday, pushing the state’s primary election back to June 23, and waiving the state’s waiting period for accessing unemployment insurance benefits.
The rising numbers of COVID-19 cases shouldn’t alarm people, the Democratic governor said, as long as the public takes the necessary steps to maintain good hygiene and distance themselves from other people.
“We believe the coronavirus is in every region of the state,” he said. “That’s not to get you worried … what it means is we can’t have Kentuckians or any region saying we haven’t had [a case] here, and therefore we don’t need to take additional steps.”
Kentucky’s confirmed cases are spread across Fayette, Jefferson, Harrison, Nelson, Clark, Bourbon and Montgomery counties. At least 317 people have been tested for the virus in Kentucky.
Beshear said he is ordering child care centers across the state to close by the end of the day Friday, adding that plans are in the works to offer child care to health care providers.
“I know it’s going to be hard,” he said, “but it is all necessary, and I wouldn’t be doing it if I didn’t believe I had to do it.”
As a way to alleviate some of the “economic injury” caused by COVID-19, Beshear also said he has applied for an Economic Injury Disaster Loan through the U.S. Small Business Administration, and people experiencing job loss as a result of COVID-19 are encouraged to access unemployment insurance benefits through the state.
Earlier on Monday, Beshear said he would waive the waiting period to access unemployment benefits. That news came after the governor said he was closing all restaurants and bars to “in-person traffic” until further notice. Certain exceptions will be provided for delivery, drive-thru and curbside pickup services, he said.
The state will also close the State Capitol starting Tuesday morning to all non-essential personnel, and allow for a three-month extension on expired driver’s licenses in an effort to “avoid in-person traffic coming into those facilities.”
These are the latest in a series of unprecedented directives from the governor to grind day-to-day public interactions to a halt in an effort to stem community spread of the virus, which has so far infected more than 3,700 people across the country and killed more than 70.
On Monday morning, Beshear announced the first coronavirus-related death in Kentucky: a 66-year-old Bourbon County man. He died at Baptist Health Lexington, where he was admitted for having a stroke. He also had pneumonia and was tested for novel coronavirus by hospital staff after being admitted.
Kentucky residents can call the state coronavirus hotline — 1-800-722-5725 — for advice about when to seek medical treatment. Those with symptoms of coronavirus — cough, fever and difficulty breathing — are strongly urged to call the hotline or their physician before visiting a doctor.
Visit Kentucky’s coronavirus website, kycovid19.ky.gov, for more guidance about the disease.