FRANKFORT, Ky. (March 31, 2020) – Expressing condolences, Gov. Andy Beshear announced Tuesday that seven more Kentuckians died after becoming ill from the novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) and urged Kentuckians to continue to take precautions and sacrifice to stop the spread.
“Today, we lost seven Kentuckians, which is something I never thought I would have to announce,” said Gov. Beshear. “This is why we were working so hard to reduce our contacts and protect the people around us. This is a virus that comes for the most vulnerable and we have to make sure we’re protecting them.”
The Governor urged Kentuckians to honor the loss of life by recommitting to following the guidance of health officials to stay healthy at home. Gov. Beshear said the sacrifices being made by Kentuckians would save lives.
“None of us know exactly how widespread this is going to get. But what we do know is, whatever that amount is, we can reduce it by what we’re doing right now,” the Governor said. “I know uncertainty is the hardest part of this. It is. It’s the hardest part of planning. It’s the hardest part in living. It’s the hardest part of staying strong when it’s really nice outside and you want to go see people.”
Dr. Steven Stack, commissioner of the Department of Public Health, said the stakes are life and death for some, and now is the time to work at “flattening the curve” so ill patients do not overwhelm Kentucky’s health providers.
“Folks, this is not a game, this is for real. And I am really proud of what we have done in Kentucky,” said Commissioner Stack. “The curve shows that hesitation hurts a lot so we have to act boldly and take significant steps. We have done that in Kentucky.”
Gov. Beshear on Tuesday announced new steps to address the crisis, including measures to help grocery workers and the nursing industry.
“We are expanding the child care options that we’ve been providing to our first responders and health care workers to our grocery store workers,” the Governor said. “We need them. We know our food supply is safe, but we need enough people that are there stocking the shelves day in and day out.”
Gov. Beshear also issued an order Tuesday allowing critical workforce sectors to rehire previously retired workers to fill key roles. The order, which last the duration of the state of emergency, applies to law enforcement, firefighters, emergency medical service personnel, park rangers and corrections officers.
Gov. Beshear also praised the Kentucky Board of Nursing for working with officials to moderate enforcement of some training and licensing requirements during the emergency. Among the issues addressed by a new order from the Governor: It eases restrictions on nurses who live out of state and makes it quicker to obtain a license.
“Right now, it’s just us versus this virus,” the Governor said. “What we do every day matters. Let’s commit that we are going to do the things that it takes to make sure we don’t have a lot of days like this.”
As of 5 p.m. March 31, the Governor said there were 114 newly confirmed COVID-19 cases in Kentucky. There were seven new deaths reported Tuesday, raising the state’s toll to 18 deaths related to the virus.