FRANKFORT — Kentucky has seen its fourth death and there are now at least 124 coronavirus cases in Kentucky, according to Gov. Andy Beshear’s Monday afternoon briefing.

“We are entering what will be tougher and tougher times,” he said at the Capitol.  “We’ve expected an escalation of this virus, and we’re going to see it.  But again, it’s what we’ve been preparing for and, like I say every day, we will get through this and we will get through it together.”

“The World Health Organization said Monday that the Coronavirus is escalating, and the Surgeon General says things are going to get bad this week,” Beshear said. “Those aren’t things that I’m saying, these are things that experts are saying.  This is why we have been aggressive.”

Twenty-one new cases were confirmed as of 5 p.m. Monday and the latest death occurred in Lexington, the governor said. 

“She’s an 82-year-old woman who had underlying health conditions and we are thinking about her and her family.  Tonight, I’m going to light the Governor’s Mansion green, and for everybody else out there who has that ability, we’d ask you to do it, too.  It’s a moment of solidarity where we’re showing a color of compassion and renewal.”

State Public Health Commissioner Dr. Steve Stack said he wrote a letter to ask medical students in Kentucky to volunteer to help.  “We have about 600 medical students in the state.  At this point, we have close to 50 percent who have already agreed to volunteer their time, their services and themselves to help in our emergency response efforts.”

He said they are now going to solicit nursing students and others. “And I suspect we’re going to see the same wonderful spirit of sacrifice.”

The reason the state has taken strict measures, such as closing bars, restaurants and non-essential retail businesses to in-person visits is the stop the spread of the coronavirus, and Stack explained why this must be done.

“If one person were to infect three people you can have one person go out and infect three new people, two days later that one person could infect nine people.  Then it becomes 27, then 81, then 243 and then 700 plus.  By 12 days you have a thousand people infected by one person.”

Beshear announced a new way for larger employers to help their workers who are being laid-off, qualify for unemployment benefits more quickly.

“Any employer of at least 50 employees who is laying off 15 employees, is urged to file a mass claim on their behalf through the e-claims process,” he said.  “It’s something that a business that wishes they weren’t having to do what they are having to do, can help their employees, can cut down on employee paperwork, and make sure they are getting their benefits right away.”

The governor also announced a Team Kentucky Fund, “An opportunity to make sure that we can help with as many of the sacrifices that people are making, as possible.”

The tax-deductible donations will go to help those whose jobs have been affected by the virus.  The fund will be overseen by the Public Protection Cabinet, who will be able to track all money that goes in and out of the fund.

In answer to numerous questions he’s received, Beshear announced a new hotline to report those who violate the executive orders issued to limit public gatherings and businesses that have been ordered to close and haven’t done so.  “We now have a COVID-19 reporting hotline, 833-KY-SAFER, or 833-597-2337.”

He also announced new steps to protect healthcare facilities.  “We believe that cases are going to ramp up, so we are going to take up some security measures around our Kentucky hospitals, just to make sure everything is orderly, and make sure that everybody in there, from the practitioners to the patients, are safe.”

He says that means you’ll see additional law enforcement, both local and state, at hospitals, “And you’ll be seeing in the near future some National Guard that are posted there as well.”

Beshear also said they are looking at a plan that would involve the early release of some inmates who are nearing the end of their sentences, noting it is a process they must be careful about implementing.

For the latest information on actions and restrictions the Administration has taken, as well as guidance from state and federal health officials, go to the website, http://kycovid19.ky.gov/.

Those without internet access or who may need more information and guidance can call their hotline at (800) 722-5725.  Beshear says the hotline has been receiving an average of 2,400 calls per day.

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