Kentucky reports 92 new cases, by far the most yet in one day; ‘We are seeing at least the start of our surge,’ Beshear says

The state Capitol and Executive Mansion are lit green on nights after a covid-19 death is reported in Kentucky. One was reported Saturday after the daily press conference. (Alex Slitz, Lexington Herald-Leader)
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As news develops in Kentucky about the coronavirus and its covid-19 disease, this item will be updated. Official state guidance is at https://kycovid19.ky.gov.

  • Kentucky reported 92 new cases of covid-19 Saturday, by far the most in any one day, including a Lexington 1-year-old. The previous high, 54, was Friday. “We are seeing at least the start of our surge, and we know now more than ever that we have to engage in social distancing, and we have to do our duty as a Kentuckian and as an American,” Gov. Andy Beshear said. “Those things that divided us three months ago don’t matter.” For more of his remarks, click here.
  • Beshear reported no deaths at his 5 p.m. press conference, but shortly afterward, he reported that a 66-year-old woman in Kenton County had died of covid-19. “Please turn on your green lights to show compassion for the family and as a show of our resilience,” he said on his Facebook page. The death was the ninth in the state, which has 394 reported cases.
  • Beshear said Fayette and Jefferson counties both had 23 new cases. Numbers depend on test results, but a new hotspot may be Hopkins County (Madisonville), which reported 10 new cases and has already had a covid-19 death, a 77-year-old man with underlying medical conditions. Daviess County (Owensboro) had five new cases Saturday.
  • The governor and others warned about mass gatherings that could spread the coronavirus. “We cannot have hundreds of people coming together in Louisville,” as happened the night before, Beshear said. “If hundreds of people come together several people are going to die because of it; that is what we are facing.”
  • Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer said “hundreds of people” gathered southwest of downtown, “reveling in the fact that ‘We’re together, and we’re not going to listen to the establishment’.” Most of them were young people. Beshear said parents should know where their teenagers are: “We need to be more disciplined, and we need to be more responsible than we’ve ever been asked to be.”
  • The governor asked broadcasters to increase airing of announcements about the need for social distancing. Earlier, he said, “We’re getting reports of funerals that are not limiting the number of people. That loved one that’s passed on would not want their funeral to be a reason that someone else has passed on.”
  • Beshear has issued an emergency order banning gatherings, and said it would be enforced. “That’s not just a recommendation, that’s part of an order,” he said. “There are going to be people out there asking you to break up if you are in the groups.”
  • Asked about reported heavy use of state parks, he said people who run the park campgrounds have been given authority to close them.
  • The governor has not issued a stay-at-home order, as some other governors have, but he said, “Unless you’re going to work, unless you’re going to get groceries, you ought to be at home.”
  • In Midway, a popular eating and drinking locale, Mayor Grayson Vandegrift warned local businesses that if they condoned gatherings, they could lose their licenses.
  • Beshear said he is still working on starting drive-through testing, which he said earlier in the week that he hoped to start Monday. “I hope early next week we can have the major announcement I wanted to have this week,” he said.
  • “Most of the nearly 250 people who have been to Jennie Stuart Medical Center or its Express Lab for a covid-19 test are still waiting” for results, reports Jennifer P. Brown of the Hoptown Chronicle. “Some have been waiting a week or more” because LabCorp, the hospital’s hired contractor has “failed miserably” to deliver drive-through test results in three to four days, CEO Eric Lee said.
  • Word of Faith Church in Mayfield said it would start  drive-through testing Monday. Its website says it will only test “those 60 or older with symptoms consistent with the covid-19 virus. All testing will be done on a pre-scheduled basis.” Pastor Ben Harp told Kentucky Health News that physician approval is also required. Harp, who is also a respiratory therapist, said the tests are being made available through his employer, National Wound Care, which developed a respiratory test panel with Helix Pathology Lab of Denver. He said they will use the Coastal Biotech Systems lab in Louisville.
  • President Trump declared Kentucky a major disaster area due to the coronavirus, which Beshear said would qualify the state and local governments to get federal reimbursement for 75 percent of their extra costs related to the outbreak.
  • Under the $2 trillion economic-rescue bill Trump signed Friday, states and localities will get much more help. Beshear said he signed an agreement with the U.S. Department of Labor that raises the maximum weekly benefit by $600, extends benefits to 39 weeks from 26 and funds benefits for people not typically eligible, which he said includes in-home child-care providers.
  • Problems non-typical applicants have with unemployment-benefit applications are being worked out, said Josh Benton, deputy secretary of the state Education and Workforce Development Cabinet.
  • Eric Friedlander, acting secretary of the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, said he has waived the requirement for in-person meetings to enroll for benefits, moved all eligibility workers to work at home, and held the first Saturday hours for enrollment. He said hours would be expanded next week. Call 855-306-8595 for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (“food stamps”) and 855-459-6328 for Medicaid.
  • “A demand for life-saving medical gear is pitting states against one another — and the rest of the world — in a bidding war for face masks and other safety gear desperately needed to battle the virus,” reports Darcy Costello of the Louisville Courier Journal.
  • General Electric has made adjustments at its Appliance Park plant in Louisville to resume production Monday, but the electric workers’ union is not satisfied. “We’ve been having conversations both with GE and the union,” Beshear said. “We need to get to a place where people feel safe going to work.”
  • The 21C Museum Hotels, which started in Louisville and include one in Lexington, are closing until it is safe to reopen.