FRANKFORT, Ky. (KT) - Ninety-two new cases of the coronavirus disease were reported in Kentucky on Saturday, including a 1-year-old, in the largest one-day increase so far, bringing the state’s total to 394.
Gov. Andy Beshear received a report of the state’s ninth death, a 66-year-old female from Kenton County, after his 5 p.m. press conference was finished. The governor asks that Kentuckians turn their lights green to show compassion for the family and as a show of resilience.
“We knew that there would be more cases, we knew that they would escalate,” Beshear said during his daily Capitol briefing. “And we know that we’re going to have a day when there are more than 92, we also know that there are going to be more deaths as we go. But we’re ready for this. We’ve been preparing for it, both personally and emotionally, as well as a state.”
He also said he appreciates how the state has come together in dealing with the pandemic.
“Last November, I felt we were as fractured and as separated of a commonwealth and as a country as I’ve ever seen,” he said. “And I believe we are now more united than I’ve ever seen. United in that we know the adversary we face. But with this adversary, we all have to live up to our duty, as a member of the commonwealth and as a patriotic American, to protect those around us more than ever.”
Despite the spike in cases, Beshear said he learned of some good news on Saturday.
“We received a major disaster declaration from the federal government,” he said. “That is going to help us cover up to 75 percent, certain costs that the federal government will pay for. Specifically, it enables FEMA to reimburse us for measures taken before, during and after this coronavirus, to protect public health and safety.”
That includes cost associated with operating the state emergency operations center, disinfecting eligible facilities, providing temporary medical facilities, purchasing equipment and supplies, and directing law enforcement to provide necessary assistance, according to the governor.
He also announced that the Department of Labor will extend the period of unemployment benefits for those who qualify from the current 26 weeks to 39 weeks. They will also allow more people to be eligible and allow the state to expand various workforce programs.
Cabinet for Health and Family Services Secretary Eric Friedlander announced that they have received a waiver from the federal government so they don’t have to conduct in-person meetings for those seeking benefits from such programs as WIC and SNAP.
Beshear also said a number of people appear to have recovered from coronavirus, “We think that number is approximately 64. That’s some really good news.“
While several health care systems have furloughed hundreds of workers recently, due to the executive order banning elective procedures, Beshear says he believes that is only going to be a short-term issue, since a surge in cases is going to occur. “We are working with our rural hospitals to make sure that they are not just available for people in their region but are available for us to divert people too if necessary, and they are getting ready for that.”
“We are taking an extra step in trying to do everything we can to make sure we have a network of those recently retired healthcare workers, those who have recently let their certifications lapse. We believe we are going to need many more who were working right before this.”