‘We are in a decline’ Beshear says of virus

Published 1:00 am Saturday, May 23, 2020

FRANKFORT, Ky. (KT) – “We now think we have not just plateaued, but we are in a decline,” Gov. Andy Beshear said on Friday during his daily press briefing on the coronavirus pandemic.

“It doesn’t mean we are out of the woods, because we are changing our level of contacts, but it is really good news,” he said.  “No one has actually seen what the decline looks like with this virus or how it can pop back up again, but given that our first case was two-and-a-half months ago, this is a place that I am happy we are at.”

He made the announcement on the day that restaurants reopened for indoor seating at reduced capacity and people were allowed to gather in groups of 10 or less.

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A total of 141 new cases of COVID-19 were reported to state public health officials on Friday, making it 8.426 since the first case was reported in Kentucky on March 6.  He also announced five new deaths, bringing the pandemic total to 391.

Two of the victims were from Jefferson County, while Barren, Hopkins and Shelby counties had one death apiece.

Beshear’s chief of staff, La Tasha Buckner, described more restrictions that will be loosened.  “First of all, as we move forward and we start to reopen things, you want to re-open the people’s home, the Capitol.  As of May 27, we’re going to open up the Capitol to small groups of ten or fewer.

Visitors will have to make applications in advance, due to capacity and small group requirements.

“On June 1, we’re opening up bowling alleys, auto racing and dirt track racing, and fitness centers,” she said.  “June 15, we will be opening up youth sports.  We have been working with stakeholders such as the Kentucky High school Athletics Association, St. Matthews Baseball League, Lexington Legends, and Bowling Green Hot Rods.”

Requirements and other openings in the coming weeks can be found at kycovid19.ky.gov.

Deputy Education and Workforce Development Secretary Josh Benton updated the situation regarding March and April unemployment claims that remain unresolved.

“These are ones that are having to be processed manually by staff, because they have multiple issues and require manual reviews,” he said.  “We are down to 14,000 remaining in March and about 38,000 from April.  We are adding more adjudicators and individuals that can review claims.”

He added they are also looking at new technology that would allow them to process claims more quickly.

Benton also stated that automatic unemployment payments will end on Sunday, so recipients will have to request their benefits every two weeks.

Gov. Beshear will do a Facebook video update on Saturday afternoon, then will not have another daily press briefing until next Tuesday when, instead of holding them in the press conference room, will be conducted in the Supreme Court chambers the entire week.