Beshear bans travel to other states, orders quarantine for travelers; CDC says 29% of infections among people 20-44

Beshear said his order was based on larger case counts in most adjoining states. (Image via 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.

By Melissa Patrick
Kentucky Health News

In a state with six of its seven metropolitan areas on state borders, Gov. Andy Beshear announced an executive order instructing Kentuckians to not travel to other states. He said other states have higher numbers of covid-19 cases than Kentucky and has previously noted that some  have not established strong social- distancing mandates.

“As you can see, we have more cases in other states,” he said. “That doesn’t mean that they are doing a good or a bad job, what it means is your likelihood of getting infected and potentially bringing back the coronavirus may be greater in other states than ours right now. And really, you need to be home. You need to be healthy at home.”

The exceptions are for work, groceries, medicine, supplies, health care, a court requirement or giving care to a loved one. “If you travel to a different state for any reason other than those exceptions,” Beshear said, “you will be required to quarantine for 14 days,” which can be the incubation period for the coronavirus.

Asked how his order would be enforced, Beshear said it can be done by law enforcement, judges and others, but “The reality is the only way that we are going to get people doing the right thing is because they agree to; it’s because they see it as their duty and they know that their actions can harm other people; that the moment that you go across the border, whether it’s to get your hair or your nails or something else done, or to go to a store that is not open in Kentucky. . . . and you have that extra contact, you can bring it back to a person in your family that is working in a nursing home.”

Beshear acknowledged that Kentucky is doing a better job at social distancing than some states, but said, “We need to do better. We have to do better. I mean the lives and health of our people depend on it.” He said the only places you need to travel to is “to work or the grocery store or maybe to a place that you are getting exercise — that ought to be it.”

La Tasha Buckner, the governor’s chief of staff, said at Beshear’s daily press conference, “We want anyone in Kentucky who has been out on spring break or for a trip to return home and self-quarantine for about 14 days, just to make sure that you haven’t been exposed and don’t expose other people. We want you to be healthy at home.”

Beshear said he has talked with both Home Depot and Lowe’s about measures that need to be taken to ensure social distancing in their stores. He also said Kentuckians must also do their part and not go into stores that are crowded.

While going over a new graphic with 10 steps to fight covid-19 at his daily press conference, Beshear reminded Kentuckians that we are in the surge of  covid-19 cases so it’s even more important than ever to wash your hands. “Wash your hands, wash them and wash them a lot,” he said.

“The next couple of weeks folks are really, really critical,” he said. “And the amount of social distancing we do and the amount of contacts that we can decrease is going to make a huge difference on what we are going to see going forward.”

In other coronavirus news in Kentucky Monday:

  • The state reported 42 new covid-19 cases and two more deaths: an 88-year-old woman from Kenton County, whom Beshear called a “presumptive positive” for the virus, and a 90-year-old woman from Simpson County. Beshear said both had underlying health conditions. To date, Kentucky has at least 480 cases and 11 deaths from covid-19.
  • Two people in a Campbell County nursing home tested positive: a resident, who is now in a hospital, and an employee. Beshear said four others in the facility are being tested.
  • Beshear estimated the total number of people tested in Kentucky is between 15,000 and 21,000. He added that the state is still working on getting better information about testing, such as reports of negative results from labs. The false-negative rate has been as high as 40 percent.
  • The governor said it would be another week or so before Kentucky decides if schools would be closed beyond April 20.
  • The state Cabinet for Health and Family Services told assisted-living facilities on March 26, “All congregate activities shall stop effective immediately and transition to virtual settings as available.” One solution: hallway bingo, with residents sitting in their doorways.
  • At a tele-townhall conference hosted by the cabinet and AARP Kentucky, Beshear stressed the dangers of the coronavirus to those over age 60 and to those with underlying health conditions. He said that’s what prompted him to end in-person visitation in nursing homes and assisted-living facilties and to close down senior centers. “Once the coronavirus starts spreading through one of those facilities, it spreads very quickly and can cause a lot of harm,” he said.  He also stressed the importance of seniors to social distance from their grandchildren, who can be carriers of the disease without having any symptoms.
  • Acting Health Secretary Eric Friedlander encouraged seniors in the tele-townhall to call the Aging and Disability Resource Center at 877-925-0037 to learn about local and state senior resources, like meals-on-wheels.
  • Attorney General Daniel Cameron said during the event that there have been more than 1,400 reports of suspected price gouging across the state. He encouraged calls to the price-gouging hotline, 888-432-9257 or online complaints at ag.ky.gov/pricegouging. He urged seniors to be wary of fraud and scams, urging caution about sale of fake products to cure or prevent covid-19; nonprofits asking for personal information or donations; calls supposedly from Medicaid asking for any personal information; or anyone asking for your Social Security number.
  • Beshear said Our Lady of Bellefonte Hospital in Russell, next to Ashland, will remain open as the surge of covid-19 patients continues. It is scheduled to close by April 30. Beshear said hospitals are expected to be at full capacity in three to four weeks and that Kentucky will need this hospital. He added that the state is working on ways to help rural hospitals, but the plan is not yet complete.
  • He said 632 students have volunteered to help with health care as needed: 342 medical students, 210 nursing students, 43 pharmacy students and 53 others.
  • Because coronavirus can enter through the eyes, the American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends switching to glasses if you wear contact lenses, especially if you tend to touch your eyes a lot when they are in. “Substituting glasses for lenses can decrease irritation and force you to pause before touching your eye,” Dr. Sonal Tuli, the spokesperson for the academy, advises. Click here for hygiene tips for contact users.
  • The AP reports that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention‘s first snapshot of covid-19 cases found 29% of infections were in people aged 20-44; that underlying health issues can increase the increase of infection and the severity of the disease; and that men seem more susceptible than women to covid-19. “The idea that this is purely a disease that causes death to older people we need to be very, very careful with,” said Dr. Mike Ryan, the World Health Organization‘s emergencies chief, warning that as much as 10 to 15 percent of people under 50 have moderate to severe infection and many middle-aged people spend weeks in the hospital, the AP reports.
  • Louisville-based Humana Inc. announced it is waiving medical costs related to treatment of covid-19, as well as FDA-approved medications as they become available for enrollees of Medicare Advantage plans, fully insured commercial members, Medicare supplement policyholders and Medicaid. The Louisville Courier Journal reports that Cigna, another health-insurance firm, is also waiving customer co-sharing and co-payments for covid-19 treatment.
  • Norton Healthcare in Louisville reported that 45 of its employees tested positive for the coronavirus across its five-hospital system, which is now working under a “universal mask protocol” starting today, Lucas Aulbach reports for the Courier Journal.
  • U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has created a Coronavirus Response Portal on his website to help Kentuckians take advantage of the provisions in the recently enacted bill to provide economic and other relief. The portal addresses unemployment insurance, low-interest federal loans, federal taxes and relief checks, federal grants, and assistance for Kentuckians traveling or living abroad.
  • Scott Satterfield, the University of Louisville‘s football coach, has made a public-service video to encourage Kentuckians to sign up for unemployment benefits if they qualify and to contribute to the Team Kentucky Fund to help those whose employment is affected by the coronavirus. He also encouraged Kentuckians to practice good hygiene and social distancing, and stay home.
  • Secretary of State Michael Adams said on KET‘s “Kentucky Tonight” that he has asked the legislature for authority to hold no-excuse absentee voting in the June 23 primary, which he and Beshear have moved from May 19. He said five weeks was the longest the vote could be delayed under state law.