Gov. Andy Beshear announced 17 new deaths due to coronavirus on Tuesday, bringing the state’s total to 171. There are 3,192 people who have tested positive for the virus, with 177 new cases.
Beshear said 13 of the new deaths were nursing home residents and that 42 percent of the state’s coronavirus deaths have been associated with nursing homes.
Kentucky’s situation would be worse if people weren’t working to stop the spread of the disease, Beshear said.
“Even with the 17 we’ve lost today, you’ve saved lives that would’ve been a significantly larger number,” Beshear said. “We need you to keep it up. This thing could spike upwards at any minute and let’s make sure that we don’t let that happen.”
Over recent days, Beshear has said that Kentucky is likely in the “plateau” of the pandemic and that Kentuckians will have to wait for a prolonged drop in cases to start easing social distancing guidelines and business closures.
In preparation for that, Beshear said the state still needs to increase its testing capacity and get more personal protective equipment.
Four new drive-in coronavirus testing sites opened in Kentucky on Tuesday as part of the state’s partnership with Kroger and Gravity Diagnostics, a lab contracting with the state.
As part of the rollout, 138 people were tested in Paducah, 118 in Pikeville, 226 in Madisonville and 201 in Somerset. By Thursday, the state hopes to test 1,000 people at each location. Kentucky already has drive-thru sites set up in Kroger parking lots in Frankfort and Kenton County.
Tests are still only available to health care workers, people over age 65 and those with chronic health conditions.
Beshear said the state will be launching a website for business and industry leaders to submit recommendations about what they can do to protect employees and customers once the state’s economy starts opening back up.
La Tasha Buckner, Beshear’s chief of staff, said employers need to consider how they will provide special accommodations for people with chronic diseases and the elderly, expand sick leave and quarantine options for employees and providing personal protective equipment.
“We’re all going to be working on this, we want to make sure we’re doing it the best way and not just the quickest way,” Buckner said.
Buckner said as the state moves to reopening, employers should still telework when they can and limit travel for business.