Covid-19 update: Beshear says drop in flu cases shows social distancing works; says mass gatherings at churches etc. likely kill

Gov. Andy Beshear displayed a photo montage of covid-19 victim Aaron Jordan and his family during Saturday’s press conference. (Screenshot of Facebook page; emojis on right were posted by viewers)
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Department for Public Health weekly chart of flu cases; dates are end of each reporting week

As news develops in Kentucky about the coronavirus and its covid-19 disease, this item may be updated. Official state guidance is at https://kycovid19.ky.gov.

A steep drop in flu cases in Kentucky shows that social-distancing measures taken to fight the coronavirus are working, Gov. Andy Beshear said Saturday.

“It is preventing wider spread of, certainly, the flu,” Beshear said. “Now, we believe the coronavirus spreads a lot faster and a lot more aggressively at this point, but look at that downward trend and know that if we stick with this, if we follow the rules and restrictions, we will absolutely lessen or slow the spread of the coronavirus.”

Beshear said those who follow Friday’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendation to wear cloth masks in public when around others, such as grocery trips, “does not replace the social distancing piece. Just because you wear a mask doesn’t mean you can get withing six feet of somebody and still have a conversation.” He also warned against fiddling with masks: “You can’t touch your face;” and using surgical or N95 respirator masks that are needed by health-care workers.

Urging social distancing despite pleasant weather, Beshear said, “What every single one of us does matters every day, every decision, every action.”

Asked about Jack Roberts, a Bullitt County pastor who plans to hold services Sunday despite the ban on mass gatherings, Beshear said, “If you are still holding mass gatherings, church or otherwise, you are spreading the coronavirus and you are likely causing the death of Kentuckians.”

The Louisville Courier Journal‘s story on Maryville Baptist Church in Hillview and other churches noted that Our Savior Lutheran Church in Hillview is holding services, but “attendance is limited to those who register online” and “seating is restricted to every other pew.”

Beshear said he had heard reports of people going door to door seeking church attendees. “You cannot go door to door right now for any reason,” he said. “I mean, folks, that’s how people die.”

At his daily press conference, Beshear displayed a photo montage of ARon Jordan, a 49-year-old bricklayer from Ashland who died of covid-19 in a Detroit hospital after quarantining himself in the city so he wouldn’t risk infecting his family. Mandy McLaren of the Courier Journal told his story, marking the first time a Kentucky covid-19 victim was identified.

Jordan is believed to be Kentucky’s youngest covid-19 victim. Beshear announced three new deaths Saturday: A 56-year-old woman in Lexington, a 52-year-old woman in Bullitt County and an 81-year-old man in Boone County, bringing the state’s death toll to 40.

Beshear said Kentucky confirmed 92 new cases Saturday and eliminated six duplicates from Friday’s report of 90, for a total of 917; he said 130, or 14 percent, have been hospitalized and 76 remain so. The day’s two relative hotspots were Hopkins and Simpson counties, which each reported five cases.

Other developments on the covid-19 front Saturday:

  • Two residents and two staffers at a Kuttawa nursing home tested positive for the virus, and most of the test results haven’t come back yet. Beshear said the state tested everyone in a wing with a patient who developed covid-19, “the most testing we’ve seen in any of these facilities.” But Lyon County Judge-Executive Wade White wants broader testing, and “said state officials were initially reluctant to provide tests, and most were provided by local hospitals,” reports the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting.
  • Beshear has allowed trails at state parks to stay open, but some local officials wish he would close them because of gatherings at trailheads, Will Wright reports for the Lexington Herald-Leader.
  • Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said there needs to be a fourth covid-19 relief bill, “a more targeted response to what we got wrong and what we didn’t do enough for” in previous bills, with health care at the top of the list.
  • Beshear and Health and Family Services Secretary Eric Friedlander urged Kentuckians without health insurance to sign up for Medicaid. “We’ve taken a 20-page application and made it one” page, and people are available to help complete the application.
  • Friedlander said the state has asked the federal government for a waiver to allow people in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program to use their electronic benefit transfer cards to order groceries online.
  • People in the small town of Midway enjoyed Yard Art, the latest in a series of events to occupy children and, in this case, adults.
  • Noting sacrifices made by other generations, Beshear said that for them, “The time or even the victory was uncertain. We know here we’re not looking at years, we’re looking at months, and we know we will come out of this on the other side.”