FRANKFORT, Ky. (FOX19) - Ky. Gov. Andy Beshear called the commonwealth’s case curve “steady” Friday in his daily media briefing, saying case numbers appear to have “plateaued” even with a ramp-up in testing.
“We still have a ways to go to defeat this virus, but the fact that you, Kentucky, have not just flattened the curve, you’ve cut the top off the muffin, it has saved so many lives,” the governor said. “Keep it up.”
The commonwealth has an additional 177 confirmed cases of COVID-19 from Thursday, good for a total of 4,879 confirmed cases on 57,648 tests, Beshear announced.
Some 334 patients are currently hospitalized, and 178 are currently in intensive care.
Beshear reported 8 new deaths for a total of 248. One of those newly reported deaths is a staff member at a long-term care facility.
Testing has reportedly increased in those facilities and in state prisons, where high case numbers are expected due to the difficulty of social distancing. Moreover Kentucky’s partnerships with Kroger and other providers have allowed it to scale-up its testing generally, to the extent the governor says 30,000 tests per week is a realistic goal in the near future.
That case numbers have not increased at a proportional rate bodes well for the commonwealth.
But Kentucky’s reopening plans remain cautiously tepid as compared to states like Georgia, where gyms, hair salons, bowling alleys, tattoo parlors and the like were permitted to reopen last week.
The governor says he is monitoring the situation there carefully.
“We’re starting to see some numbers from Georgia that may suggest their decision was wrong,” he said, referring to the 1,000 new cases the state reported Friday. “I certainly want to see where that goes.”
The governor continued: “We don’t want to be the first to do this, we want to be the smartest and the best.”
The governor said earlier in the week Kentucky had been dealing with a backlog of 130,000 unemployment claims from March. He announced Friday around 105,000 of those have been processed and “the dollars are out.”
“So now we are past any glitch in the system, now we are past any problem with overall volume, now we are to claims we have to fix something in,” he said.
Fixes for around 8,000 claims involve identity verifications.
The remaining 20,000-odd claims have what the governor called “legitimate issues" the state would have to work through regardless of the pandemic. That could include checking a box incorrectly on the claims form or something more prohibitive.
Beshear didn’t mince words Friday when asked about Kentucky’s budget shortfall in the face of the pandemic.
He put the number for the executive branch budget at $497 million and said an additional shortfall would exist in the transportation cabinet’s budget, leading to significant cuts, work stoppages and fewer jobs.
“It is so severe that the federal government has to step in,” Beshear said matter-of-factly.
He continued, using the Great Recession as a comparison: "If the federal government doesn’t help, this recession will be longer and more painful, more painful to the most vulnerable, and everyone will feel the brunt, everyone from our kids and the services we’ll be able to provide them to our seniors and the services well be able to provide them.
“We’re not just going to hurt, we are going to be in for a world of hurt.”