Apr 6, 2020
Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear COVID-19 Briefing Transcript April 6
Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear held a coronavirus press conference on April 6. He said the number of cases in Kentucky has now passed 1,000. Full transcript here.
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Andy Beshear: (00:00)
… whether we follow the directions to the letter, that’s going to depend on how much this coronavirus spreads and how many people we lose.
Andy Beshear: (00:10)
Integrity. Knowing that what we do matters and that even though we can’t see the people we might save by following the recommendations, that our personal integrity in knowing, in knowing what actions do and do not protect other people, what actions put them at harm, that’s on the line every day too.
Andy Beshear: (00:29)
Work ethic. This one for us is almost about resiliency. It’s about not knowing exactly how long it’s going to take; that we know it’s months, not years and being willing to commit to defeat this coronavirus on the very first try.
Andy Beshear: (00:46)
Finally that faithful commitment, sticking with it, lighting those green lights, ringing the bells, knowing that we are in this together and like I start every time, we’re going to get through this and we’re going to get through it together and part of the way we’re going to get through it is by exhibiting those same traits that help people come together in that greatest generation of personal responsibility, integrity, work ethic and faithful commitment.
Andy Beshear: (01:15)
So today, in many ways when we talk about our commitment, is an important day and that we are now one month from our first positive case. We are one month into knowing the Coronavirus was in Kentucky. So we have now for that month and we know for a month or however long it takes to come, that we have to have that commitment to doing everything that it takes.
Andy Beshear: (01:45)
I want to tell you that right now it’s crunch time and we’ve talked about how the next weeks and the next month are absolutely critical. You don’t just hear it for me, you hear it on the national level. Like the vice president today said in a call to us and to the country, that we will see heartbreaking loss this week.
Andy Beshear: (02:03)
Our goal in Kentucky should be, while we know that there will be lost and we know it will be heartbreaking, that we control our own destiny by what we do and we minimize the loss that we’re going to have here. Separately just to show that there really aren’t Democrats or Republicans, just Americans versus this coronavirus, in that White House call, the White House is fully supportive of the strong actions that we are taking as a state and these steps, these actions aren’t really mine. I have to put them into effect. They are your sacrifice. They are your sacrifice of your economic security to protect all of the people around us. They are us collectively changing everything we have known about our economy and many ways our way of life because we know that lives are on the line and I am so proud of you.
Andy Beshear: (02:59)
I am so proud of how you are doing. Every day we need to do better but your actions are making a difference and I wanted to show that in a couple of ways. I want to go over what the stakes are. Again, let’s start with the White House projections of, there’s the White House projections. This is what they have been using nationally adjusted towards Kentucky. So for them, the social distancing, which is an aggressive social distancing. This is the sacrifices that you are making, has a projection of between 1,300 and 3,200 people lost.
Andy Beshear: (03:37)
Separately, COVIDActNow has a slightly more pessimistic but many of us think that this is more realistic at least then than the White House numbers. It just shows us each day, each day how important it is to follow the restrictions that are out there. What one mass gathering can do, what one basketball game can do, what one house party. Just having another couple over so the kids playing can do. In this projection, it’s a difference between 11,000 lives.
Andy Beshear: (04:18)
Let’s go to what we showed yesterday about different states. These graphs which we showed yesterday for the first time, show that your commitment, your resiliency and the fact that the vast majority of Kentuckians are following the recommendations and the rules and you know what? You’re doing in almost a joyful manner and that you know, this is your duty, you believe in it and you’re going to do it for our fellow human being. What we can see is that it is working and when you compare us with what we see going on and the rest of the country and so many other States, what we are doing is flattening the curve. We don’t yet know how much or how long, but the data suggests taking quick action early but that was just me putting in an order. It was you being willing to follow it and to buy in is helping.
Andy Beshear: (05:13)
Let’s look at the next one and this one adjusts it by population. So even there, when we make sure that we’re removing other variables, you see now that your work is truly paying off and helping people. But remember, strict compliance versus poor compliance can be the difference in 11,000 people still being with us according to one of those models. So it’s a look at this. Let’s take pride in it. Let’s take pride in being Kentucky and our willingness to sacrifice for each other but let’s commit to do better.
Andy Beshear: (05:51)
If over the last week you look back on your actions and you said, “I did really well six days but that one day I really wanted to see somebody. Well, I didn’t do so well on that.” Let’s commit to seven days, every week, every hour, that we do what it takes. It’s going to be the difference in having a lot of people here for Christmas, a lot of people here by the end of the year .let’s make sure that we do the right things and the right things are following the 10 steps that we talk about to defeat the Coronavirus.
Andy Beshear: (06:22)
Number one, stay healthy at home. You should be at home. I know you’re at home now probably but you should be at home every minute that you’re not at work, if you’re going to work or getting exercise or getting supplies. We want you to stay healthy with that exercise. We want you to stay mentally and emotionally healthy but let’s make sure it is always at home. It’s the safest place for you and it saves lives.
Andy Beshear: (06:46)
Avoiding crowds and gatherings; no exception whatsoever. We cannot have crowds. We have direct proof that any crowd, anywhere, can spread this virus and ultimately cause harm to Kentuckian’s.
Andy Beshear: (07:02)
Practice social distancing. This is not an excuse for avoiding crowds. In other words, we can’t have multiple families come over for a birthday party that everybody just stands six feet away from each other. It doesn’t work that way. Social distancing ought to be for when you go out on a run and someone’s coming the other way, you make sure you’re six feet apart. If you’re in the grocery store, getting what you need and somebody coming by six feet apart. That doesn’t take the place of healthy at home.
Andy Beshear: (07:32)
Know when to seek care. It’s very important to make sure we have the healthcare capacity to treat people. So go on the website which is number five, KYCOVID19.ky.gov. That’ll say if you are a well but nervous, call the hotline. If you are sick but wouldn’t have otherwise sought care, call your healthcare professional or if you are truly sick and need help or injured, go get that help.
Andy Beshear: (07:58)
Wash your hands. 20 seconds, soap and water, every time. Disinfect surfaces. Remember you can use a 1/100 bleach solution.
Andy Beshear: (08:07)
Apply for benefits. We talked about Medicaid yesterday. We are processing more than ever before. Unemployment, we are processing more than ever before. Make sure you sign up. We want you to get through this. We want to make sure that you have the resources that you need to get through this. We are still waiting on word from the federal government about when the extra $600 kicks in. We will let you know as soon as we now.
Andy Beshear: (08:32)
Do prioritize your mental health. We need you to not only be strong through this because that makes our compliance, our strict compliance a lot easier or more attainable for us, but we also when we come out of this, we want you to be the healthy people that hopefully you were coming into this and you know, after this, let’s have lots of conversations about how we get healthier.
Andy Beshear: (08:55)
One of the reasons that we’re so at risk is we’re at the top of the charts and in so many different health areas. Let’s make a commitment when we come out of this to become healthier people, all of us. That’s me included. There’s more that we can do. Let’s make sure that a hundred years from now, if we see another one of these come around, that we are not a state that is in danger because of our overall health outcomes.
Andy Beshear: (09:20)
Do not travel anywhere. Only places you should be traveling are work, to get supplies, to take care of a loved one. Don’t travel.
Andy Beshear: (09:29)
Finally report noncompliance. That creates the positive social pressure that we need to make sure that everybody is willingly doing the things that we need to do. We see it in individuals. We also see it in businesses taking steps each and every day based on what they’re seeing to try to comply with the CDC guidelines better and better.
Andy Beshear: (09:53)
We’ll talk about the 10 steps plus one until everybody fills it out. Complete your census. Do it because it’s your duty. Do it because it’ll help us rebuild or do it so I won’t keep saying it. Any of those reasons, if you do it, it’s going to help out the state.
Andy Beshear: (10:08)
The other thing we ask you to do every day is to fill up social media. We need positive social media out there. With it being used by so many to spread misinformation, having the examples of all of us doing the things we need to is so important. We use the #TeamKentucky, #TogetherKy, #Patriot and # HealthyAtHome and here is today’s sampling of the good stuff that we see out there.
Andy Beshear: (10:37)
This is a distance learning. This is a class that again, we’re seeing what technology is able to do for us. Use it. Whether it’s Zoom or FaceTime or anything else, make sure you are connecting and can physically can actually see people. This is a way and I see it in myself and my family, that really lifts our spirits. Let’s make sure we’re using the technology we have.
Andy Beshear: (11:05)
This is again just some of the amazing chalk art we see out there, especially by our children, brightening all of our days, making sure that we have that positive emotional health. This is another. This is a 16 year old using her time to try to make masks for those on the front line or those that could benefit from them. I know it’s really special to see a state come together and everybody say, “What can I do?”
Andy Beshear: (11:35)
Number one thing you can do is stay home. We want people making masks. People appreciate the food you send, but stay home. It’s the number one thing any health care provider or first responder would ask you to do if you said, “How can I help?”
Andy Beshear: (11:54)
All right, this is the opportunity with all of our families to spend that little extra time if we’re lucky enough to be in a stable home, to make sure that those extra moments that we have, even if they’re forced on us, we try to make them as positive as we can and the amount of bells ringing every day is truly special. It reminds us that we are not alone even when we can’t be close to each other and every day we see more communities and more folks finding a way to be a part of this daily ritual. Now we have one more. This is again one of those parades where people are trying to find a way to reconnect in new and innovative ways.
Andy Beshear: (12:46)
Now we’ve got a short video from Doctor Bruce Williams from Bates Memorial joining our cause, or giving voice to his support, knowing that we absolutely have to be engaged and the steps that we are taking that they are protecting people and it’s the right thing to do.
Dr. Bruce Williams: (13:09)
Hello. I’m Dr. Bruce Williams, Pastor of the Bates Memorial Baptist Church in Louisville, Kentucky. Before I go any further, I think it’s appropriate that I just pause and thank all the leaders throughout the state and the city who have been instrumental in helping to guide this state through this very tempestuous time in this pandemic.
Dr. Bruce Williams: (13:28)
Certainly want to thank our own mayor, mayor Fischer, for his extraordinary leadership, the sacrifices he is making and the things that he does and is doing to help keep the city safe and solvent during this time.
Dr. Bruce Williams: (13:42)
Also want to thank of course, our wonderful governor, Governor Beshear. The kind quality and caliber of leadership he has given is the kind we need. His sterling character, his stellar leadership, his informed and competent status reports and his calm demeanor and his optimistic attitude had been invaluable during this time.
Dr. Bruce Williams: (14:02)
Let me add my voice to the chorus of voices who have been encouraging the citizens of Kentucky to keep the mandates that have been set aside for our protection, to make sure that you stay home, especially if you are not feeling well. And if you do have to go out, to keep the social distance rule. Keep six feet away from one another. Don’t gather in groups larger than 10, and the other mandates that have given been given to us. All of them are designed for us to take the virus seriously and to get on the other side of the virus. And I know this is a tough time as the Governor has said, and I know it requires sacrifice and some inconvenience, but lives at stake. And so I join the leaders and the Governor for making sure that we keep these mandates.
Dr. Bruce Williams: (14:50)
For those who are a part of the faith, those especially of the Christian Church, I know that we have faith, but we also know that we are guided by faith and wisdom, and both of those are important. They’re not mutually exclusive. God has given us faith, but he’s also given us consecrated, common sense. So let’s join them and making sure that the flock that we guide, that we are the kind of shepherds that not only feed them, but also we’re the kind of shepherds who protect them.
Dr. Bruce Williams: (15:17)
Easter’s coming up, and for those of us who are the faith, it’s when we celebrate the resurrection and whatever else a resurrection means, it means that life is stronger than death. And that’s what gives me hope during this time. I believe that sins, sickness, sadness and sorrow, disease, dis-ease, and unease souls don’t get the last word. God gets the last word. And by the will of God, we will get on the other side of this. And so until then, let’s keep the mandates and I’ll see you on the other side of this pandemic.
Andy Beshear: (15:55)
I want to thank Dr. Williams along with all of our other faith leaders that are out there guiding us on the right things that provide the protection that people need. And those are all of our faith leaders from every faith whether they are currently doing virtual services from synagogues or mosques, or any other house of worship. We appreciate them.
Andy Beshear: (16:24)
Real quickly, I want to go over the ways that once again that we address this coronavirus. It is through, number one, social distancing. That is the one that we have control over, the one that we together, together, can flatten that curve, that flattening a curve has become something we just say. It’s about protecting lives, reducing the spread of the virus, making sure we have the healthcare capacity. Number two is increasing the healthcare capacity. It’s making sure that we can increase our number of beds. We start with about 18,500. Those aren’t the number of regularly used beds. They are the capacity that our existing hospital facilities have and prove that they are licensed for in those current brick and mortar buildings that are being used before they go out to any type of outpatient facility.
Andy Beshear: (17:18)
I believe right now our plans get us up to close to 23 to 25,000. We are continuing to work with different groups to increase that. Also ventilators on that right now, a very significant challenge. We know we’ve increased our number of ventilators by about 70, and then there is the increase in testing where we had good news yesterday. Our agreement with Gravity Diagnostics, that could provide up to 2000 extra tests, especially out in the state every day, provided that we have enough swabs, and so we’ve put out the call for those that think they can manufacture these types of swabs. They’re not cotton swabs, so it makes it a little more challenging, but our capacity to reach that extra 2000 on top of all the other labs and what they’re doing will be dependent on that.
Andy Beshear: (18:15)
But number two and number three also require the personal protective equipment that our frontline healthcare workers really need. Here’s a list of what that personal protective equipment is, and in order of what is scarce or difficult to get that we could use anybody’s help on are, number one, the N95 masks, number two, gloves, and number three the surgical or healthcare gowns. That’s what people are wearing. It’s a specialty type of clothing and shield for folks. I held a call with about 400 members of the Chamber of Commerce today talking about either assisting us in procuring, which is buying, though almost every lead we get is either going down a rabbit hole or it is diverted by the federal government or to another place. Number two, the manufacturing. I mean, in the end wouldn’t we like to be self reliant, and seeing who can retool and help us with that?
Andy Beshear: (19:16)
But number three is donations. I know that we still have more PPE out there and we need it. This is a call to action and you all have responded, but I know there is more so anybody with those N95 masks, we’ll take surgical masks. We don’t need the cloth masks. We’re able to produce enough of those. Any of the gloves, nitrile gloves are specifically what we’re looking for. There’s both medical and industrial. We can use the industrial too. And the ability on the gowns. You can call this number. You can go to the website or you can drop anything off at any of our state police locations. I know there’s more. You all have done a great job. Keep looking. Keep bringing these in because you know, once again, what we donate, what we already have out there, is entirely within our control, and let me thank everybody who’s done this.
Andy Beshear: (20:12)
It’s everything from Toyota making a very large donation, to Keeneland who just brought over a significant amount that they have for their veterinarians, to so many others. We appreciate you.
Andy Beshear: (20:28)
All right, one quick update. We are going to be using cabins in our state parks for quarantined first responders, and we’re going to start that program here shortly. Now once that they are in quarantine but haven’t tested positive, needing to be away from their family or others that they could spread it to. It’s a good good use of those state parks and we’re excited to do it. Currently we’re just going to use the cabins because we have plans to use the lodges if we have to house additional coronavirus patients. That adds about 1100 or almost 1200 extra beds if they are needed.
Andy Beshear: (21:07)
It is also National Public Health Week. Talk about a time where we are so blessed and we realize how fortunate we are to have amazing folks in public health, so our Department of Public Health, thank you. Happy National Public Health Week. We couldn’t do this without you, and to all of our local health departments and everybody else out there that is helping, well, this is your week. We’ve been needing you and you’ve been delivering for many weeks, so thank you very, very much.
Andy Beshear: (21:41)
All right. Today’s update has some good and some tough news like many days. The good news, though we shouldn’t read too much into it because it is only a single day, is we have 54 new cases of the coronavirus today. Now, we are continuing our audit. In our total previous number, we found one duplicate, so it’s 54 new cases. Our official state number of cases is 1008, so yes, we crossed the thousand mark. We knew that we always would. 54, that’s a lot less than we expected at this point, and the last two days are certainly less than the days before. Let’s not read anything into it until we see the following days. We think we are still escalating. But let me tell you, if you want to take something positive from this number, it’s that what you are doing is working. Again, we are not seeing the day after day increase, even if you think that the 54 might be an anomaly, if you go back, and we had a right about a hundred for three straight days but before the weekend.
Andy Beshear: (22:55)
So let’s see what we see for the rest of the week. But 54 cases today, new cases, is a number lower than we expected, and that’s a positive. Of our new cases, 15 are in Jefferson, nine and Boone, five in Muellenberg, three in Boyd and Kenton, two in Christian Hopkins, Marshall, Rockcastle, and Todd, and one in Barren, Campbell, Crittenden, Fayette, Madison, Montgomery, Oldham, Shelby, and then we have one that is unconfirmed. Again, we have different reporting deadlines than maybe a local health department does, so some of their numbers come in the next day. Some numbers that they haven’t announced are in our announcement. For instance, I believe the cutoff in Louisville, and we work to make sure our numbers are the same as about two, and we’re a little bit later than that, or it’s earlier than ours.
Andy Beshear: (23:53)
We now can confirm 19,955 people have been tested, though we think the number is much higher than that. And so if you look at our total number of tests that were done and our positives over the last 24 hours, that’s also some pretty good news. We’ve had 163 people hospitalized over the course of this, but we believe they’re only, what, about 70 that are currently hospitalized at the moment. Let me check that number as we go forward to make sure I give it to you accurately.
Andy Beshear: (24:32)
All right. Here’s the tougher news. Today we are reporting 14 new deaths to the coronavirus. Some of these were deaths that hadn’t been reported to us that may have been reported by some of the local health departments. But we now have the confirmation and the paperwork in with us. 14 is hard. 14 Kentuckians loved by their families and their friends that we have lost to this virus. So let’s make sure that we light up more houses, more facilities, more places green tonight than we have on any single day that we had been dealing with this coronavirus. Let’s remember that there are 14 families grieving today. There were families yesterday and the day before, and let’s remember how serious this virus is. Let’s remember, green is the color of compassion for those families and also renewal. Let’s make sure that we don’t just light our houses up green tonight, we wake up tomorrow recommitted to making sure we don’t suffer more losses than is absolutely or necessary. Let’s make sure that we flatten that curve to protect as many people as we can.
Andy Beshear: (25:54)
These new deaths are an 86 year old male in Jefferson, a 96 year old male in Kenton, a 74 year old female in Fayette, and 81 year old male in McCracken, 56 and an 85 year old female in Jefferson, an 81 year old female in Campbell, a 92 and an 89 year old female and Kenton, a 74 year old male in Jefferson, a 63 year old male in Campbell, and two separate 91 year old females in Kenton County, and we’ll make sure that that’s not a duplicate because they have some of the same information written next to them, and a 96 year old male in Boyd County.
Andy Beshear: (26:39)
Again, a tough day. We know how deadly this virus is and especially what it can do to our older population and those that are most vulnerable. Let’s make sure we protect each other by practicing that social distance, by being a good neighbor, and on the way, let’s make sure that we show each other kindness. I know that there’s at least a reported assault related to social distancing. I haven’t had the chance to fully read that one yet. Let’s remember that the most important thing is how we not just react, but how we act to each other. This is hard. There’s anxiety, there is fear, and there is even death, and let’s make sure that it brings out the best of us even when all of that nervousness and anxiety can try to pull out the worst of us.
Andy Beshear: (27:35)
Wanted to give a face again to one of the folks that we’ve lost. This is June Hill, it was one of those that we have lost related to this coronavirus. Jamie Temple, who is June Hill’s granddaughter wrote, I think it was an op-ed, and I just wanted to read one piece of it with you that I think shows how real this is-
Andy Beshear: (28:03)
… to a family. June writes, “Will there be a funeral? Will we be able to hug? Are we carrying this grief alone, too? Only to cut it open when we see one another again, if we are able to see one another again? Will a hug even mean the same? That’s another thing COVID does. It makes you question a gesture once meant for comfort, because now anything might kill you. It’s easier to hear the statistics on the news. A number isn’t a person. But when one number becomes a person you love, you’re angry and you’re scared,” and there’s another word I’m not going to read. “If this faceless killer can find my grandmother, home bound in rural Kentucky, it can find us all. We’re all more than a number. Let’s not forget. Her name was June. She was a mother, grandmother, sister, aunt. She loved us all and we loved her.”
Andy Beshear: (28:58)
I want to think Jamie for sharing that. June was a McLean County resident. I know her community deeply cared for her. I’m going to do this when we can. It was actually a suggestion from one of our reporters that we have here to try to make sure that these numbers don’t numb us, that 1,008 cases don’t numb us, and that we know when we talk about there being 14 new deaths, each one of them is somebody like June, that is cared about, and let’s do everything we can to make sure that we minimize our losses.
Andy Beshear: (29:36)
All right. We’re going to move into questions. We’ll do, if we can, 10 or 15 minutes, most. I’ve always, at least the last four days, said we’re going to get out of here a little bit early, and we actually have the chance to do it today. We have two journalists here. We have Joe Sonka and Phil Pendleton, and I have a whole bunch of submitted questions, so I will probably do one, and then about three, and then one again. We’ll start with Joe.
Joe Sonka: (30:03)
I have not seen any information on the racial breakdown of either the positive cases or the deaths so far. Does the state have that information? Does it plan on releasing it at any time?
Andy Beshear: (30:16)
The question is that we haven’t seen racial demographics on the deaths or the cases, and are we tracking that information. I’ll have to check. If we have that, we’ll make sure that we can provide it as long as it’s not covered under HIPAA.
Andy Beshear: (30:34)
From WPSD, “We received this email from a viewer. What should be done at halfway houses or correctional facilities with COVID-19 concerns, and how can families ensure that something is being done when they aren’t able to get into these facilities?” This is one of those hard questions and hard sacrifices that we’re having to make. Closing a prison or a halfway house to visitation protects everybody that is there, but I know that it raises concerns amongst family members that they can’t come and see how everybody is being treated. It’s the same as our senior care facilities, as well.
Andy Beshear: (31:16)
Make sure that you are still communicating, whether that is Zoom, or Skype, or corrections providing numerous extra calls. Make sure that you are communicating with your loved one that is in any type of facility that has had to limit the visitation, and if they raise concerns, please call us at the state and we will see what we can do.
Andy Beshear: (31:41)
This is from CNN: “I’m reaching out because in a press conference for the Rhode Island governor, someone said there were reports of Governor Beshear using an ankle monitor for those who broke quarantine rules.” To clarify that, that was Jefferson County that was able to use an ankle monitor to track an individual who was refusing to follow the quarantine rules after testing positive. Now, that’s something that we’ll certainly consider moving forward from the state side, or encourage in our localities, especially if they don’t have the resources like the very first person that we had to enforce the quarantine rules, where a sheriff’s deputy was able to sit outside the house. With Easter this Sunday, many families would like to get together. Would it still meet social distancing guidelines to say six family members meet outside, sitting six feet apart in folding chairs? The answer to that, folks, and it’s a hard one, has to be no. We’re trying to make sure that we are not increasing contacts even from six feet away. The social distancing is about making sure when you come across somebody when you’re staying healthy at home that you’re at sufficient distance not to spread the coronavirus, but it can’t be an excuse or a crutch, and I know that’s a hard way of saying it when we’re talking about Easter, wanting to get together, but it can’t be a reason that we don’t stay at home, and we travel to each other’s homes. This Sunday is going to be tough. It’s going to be tough on me. My son was supposed to be baptized this Sunday, and he’s going to have to wait. But I know he’s willing, even though he’s sad about it, because it’s going to protect people around us.
Andy Beshear: (33:32)
All right, Phil.
Phil Pendleton: (33:34)
Small businesses are getting the bill for unemployment. Are they going to see an increase in their federal unemployment taxes because of this? Or will there be some help for them through all this?
Andy Beshear: (33:48)
So, the question is about small businesses that are paying into unemployment, and will there be a federal tax credit. I spoke to Senator McConnell the other day, and he reported back that not only are we clearing up some federal issues related to the SBA small business loans, but that they think that there will be some additional relief, and there needs to be. I mean, the federal government is going to have to be a very significant player, even more so than they have currently done on helping to restart our economy as we’re coming out of this.
Andy Beshear: (34:25)
I believe that we are seeing at least some willingness to do that, and I’m encouraged at least that people are thinking about other steps. And I can tell you from my side, while I will have different conversations with folks, I’m not going to get in any federal argument, whether it’s between the House, or the Senate, or the rest. I just want the maximum the federal government will do, and I want them to do it fast. I believe some of our funding is going to be in on the 24th. If we receive that, those will be significant dollars that we will put to work. And I want to make sure we do everything in the state that we can.
Andy Beshear: (35:02)
I want to minimize the number of small businesses that had to close their doors because of the coronavirus that won’t be able to reopen. Now, saying that, I know that there are some that won’t, and they will have made a very significant sacrifice. But if you look back on those graphs that we’re showing, it’s working, and I hope they feel, if they can, some pride that they are truly passing that test of humanity about putting other people’s lives ahead of their own economic security. Governor mentioned yesterday the possibility of a Kentucky peak in early May. What information do you see suggesting that might happen? We’ve seen different modeling from different groups, and it’s all based on what we think with very limited data, and about escalation of cases and what we are seeing across the country. Now, today there have been reports that people call good news, thinking that cases are decreasing in certain places. Now, there’s also cautionary tales in all of that. I mean, Japan is now having to take new very stringent steps after loosening restrictions too early. And so, I’m not trying to jump to any conclusions. I’m trying to take in and our public health is taking in as much data from out there around the world as possible, because if we are truly flattening our curve, which I believe we are, it means we have the blessing of a little extra time watching what’s happening in other places to make the very best decisions here. If it’s later than May, then we have flattened the curve even more than we could have hoped, and what that’s going to mean is we’re going to have saved a whole lot of people.
Andy Beshear: (36:46)
About Western State Hospital, here’s some follow-up questions. How many cases are there now at Western State Hospital? I will say Western State is being hit pretty hard. This is what happens when the coronavirus gets into a facility like our senior facilities, so I believe that as of the last report I had, we have nine. We have 11 residents.
Speaker 3: (37:18)
Andy Beshear: (37:20)
We have nine residents and three employees was I believe the last update. I think we have 12, though we’ll get confirmation that it’s not 11. But we have nine residents, and I at least have on here that we have three employees. Three of the residents are hospitalized in Hopkinsville. Most of the cases are connected to a single individual, so we advised the facility on cleaning and PPE usage in that area. Specific steps that we are looking at is screening the health care workers each day upon entry, on making sure that there is PPE that is available for those that are working within the facility, and I believe those that are working directly with these patients are also self quarantined or self quarantining, to make sure that they can provide protection to others. And we will follow up with this individual on other points. We’re also not accepting new residents and new people into Western State at this time. Joe.
Joe Sonka: (38:49)
Can you give an update on how many of the state inmates have been released since your order last week, and is there any update on how many state inmates, if any, have tested positive?
Andy Beshear: (39:02)
The question is the number of state inmates that have tested positive. I know we have at least three. And let me check on whether that number is larger. I believe right now they’re all in one facility, I believe which is Green River, and let me check on whether or not we have a confirmed positive in any other facility. I believe that that initial order is being processed now. I’ve got Michael Brown here. Michael, do we have confirmation of the actual release of any of the individuals yet?
Michael Brown: (39:39)
Of the 186?
Andy Beshear: (39:39)
Michael Brown: (39:45)
I don’t believe they’ve actually been released or orders put in effect, because one of the things was to confirm if [inaudible 00:39:50]-
Andy Beshear: (39:50)
Right. So, the initial release order, which was 186?
Michael Brown: (39:55)
Andy Beshear: (39:57)
Individuals. We’re going through the steps, which are ensuring they’re in good health, and also making sure that they have an address, a home that they can go to, to do the 14-day self quarantine, so that release I would say is in process. But there were specific steps that were written into it.
Andy Beshear: (40:18)
There’s a discrepancy between the number of hospital beds reported by me and those that are on IMHE or COVID Act Now. The number that we use is the number of licensed beds and beds that we know that our health care facilities can expand within their actual hospitals right now. That’s not going out to any outpatient clinics that they would convert, so it is larger than the number of staffed beds, but we wanted to know how many beds within our active hospitals right now, that already have staffing, that we could reach, before taking that next step to a hotel or to an outpatient center, or the other areas that we are working to increase our numbers as a surge comes. I do not know where any website gets their information. I only know the information from our cabinet and Health and Family Services.
Andy Beshear: (41:20)
Okay, wait. Here, I’ve got a better answer on the inmates tested. To date, throughout 13 prisons in the state, there have been 21 inmates tested and two positive results. Both of those inmates are at Green River Correctional Complex. We have 41 Kentucky Department of Corrections staff who have reported being tested and five positive results. Four of those are staff at Green River, and there is one probation or parole officer that make up those five. So, we will continue to update that, and we are going to see more cases everywhere, and so we would expect those to grow.
Andy Beshear: (42:03)
… Can I clarify if it’s okay to have home gatherings indoor or out as long as everybody remains six feet apart and make sure kids do the same? Answer’s no. We cannot have house parties. Right now that is the area that we need to improve on. Sure, it’s smaller than a large gathering and yes, I know you want your kids to be able to play with other kids, I desperately do. But we cannot be having house parties. So if you’ve done it, just commit that we’re not going to do it again. Make sure that you’re using virtual means but no having people over and just saying, “We’re going to be six feet apart.” You’re all touching the same things. The virus is going to spread in that type of situation.
Andy Beshear: (42:47)
Let me also quickly mention, I’ve talked about drive-in church services and we’ve talked about the different rules that we need to see in place. I do want to point out that there are certain areas of the state where either they have been hit hard or because of their density, their local leaders have said that they don’t want to see those drive-in service. I believe Hopkins is one and Jefferson is another. I support both the mayor of Louisville, the county judge in Hopkins in their recommendations or in their orders to the people of those counties. They are on the ground. They are seeing what’s going on in their community. So for everywhere else where the County judge or the mayor is not seeing the special reasons in that area, make sure if you’re going to do this, whether it’s Wednesday, whether it’s Friday or, or whether it’s a Sunday, that, again, nobody gets out of the car. Cars are six feet apart. You’re not passing things in the car, to people in and out either. Please follow those rules. We want to at least have the opportunity to do this type of thing. But as we know in so many areas, it’s those that don’t do it right, those that violate the rules that create a problem for everybody else. So no lawn chairs with people getting out. Just make sure that you stay inside that car. The $600 that we talked about from unemployment, while we do not have a definitive date yet as to when the federal government is going to turn that on, we do know it will be retroactive to March 29th. And so those that are waiting for it saying, “Why isn’t it coming in?” I can’t give you a definitive date, that we hope it’s soon that it will, but it will be retroactive, back to the 29th.
Andy Beshear: (44:52)
There’s a question here about some healthcare workers saying that our COVID tests are giving false negatives. Has that come to my attention and is it a concern? We’ve not had any reports of false negatives at the state department for public health, but all lab tests have a rate of inaccuracy. But we believe that the testing accuracy rates are very high for the tests certainly that we have been doing from our lab, and that’s the one that we can control. We also, in any new lab, have to confirm five positive tests and five negative tests, and I don’t believe we have had any inaccurate results coming in.
Dr. Stack: (45:35)
That’s why a negative test is not always reassuring.
Andy Beshear: (45:37)
I’m going to ask Dr. Stack to come up and to talk about this one. It’s important.
Dr. Stack: (45:47)
Thank you governor. So this is actually really important. So I’ve been very consistent in the last few weeks about saying a negative test does not guarantee you don’t have the disease. A positive test means you do have the disease, but a negative test does not guarantee you don’t have the disease. That’s because sometimes if you test too early, and certainly if someone is not showing symptoms, you may not have enough virus in your body for us to find it when we test you. If this sample isn’t done well enough and they don’t get a good enough sample on the Q-tip, and it’s not a pleasant experience. If you have to have this test, the Q-tip goes way in the back of your nose and it almost brings a tear to your eye or maybe it does bring a tear to your eye. So if you haven’t had a sample collected properly, you could have a false negative.
Dr. Stack: (46:29)
Now the tests are very, very reliable, but they’re not perfect, and I’ve said for weeks that it’s essential that the person ordering it orders it on people who are likely to have a value to the test, they know how to interpret it and that the patient understands that a medical personnel who understands how to properly use the test is important. So please don’t go seeking tests unless you’ve talked with a healthcare provider because getting a test alone does not really help you.
Andy Beshear: (46:56)
We’ll do a couple more questions and then we will answer the rest of them that came in, and there are a lot of them that came in, tomorrow. So Phil?
What is the latest on the unemployment as far as just having enough people to take the calls? Are you still getting people saying you’re having difficulty? One lady emailed me today saying that she was approved for it, but then she got a notice back saying her claim was under investigation and then she’s supposed to get her money last Friday, nothing came. What’s going on?
Andy Beshear: (47:32)
The question is on unemployment and how we’re staffing up. Still hearing numerous complaints, which are valid, about people trying to sign up, or getting multiple answers from the system, and we’re working on it. We have hired more people in that area than I think ever, and we’re hiring even more, and we absolutely have to do better. We’re working with an antiquated system that still wants to tell people who qualify that they don’t. Because while the law has changed, the software that has created all this and is supposed to streamline it now doesn’t work the same way. So we’ll have Josh Benton again tomorrow who can give a very specific update. But I’d say stick with us. Yes, it’s going to be challenging and it’s going to be frustrating, and that’s no excuse from us. This is our job. We’ve got to get it right and we’ll continue to work to get it right.
Speaker 6: (48:25)
So the Green River facilities, [inaudible 00:48:31] what measures are being taken to treat people, isolate people so you don’t get a larger prison outbreak of the virus?
Andy Beshear: (48:39)
Right. So on the Green River, what steps are being taken? The inmates are isolated and others that were in their wing have been monitored since the date of the tests. And I know there have been other tests that have been administered to many of those inmates. We are either awaiting the results or they’ve come back negative. We don’t have any other positives to report. Two of the individuals were administrative staff. They are now at home, and they were never inside the the inmate population, but they’re still monitoring everybody that worked around them, and in fact I believe many of those folks from the administrative wing were self-quarantined for the number of days. I know that we had some healthcare providers that are in that, same thing with those that they came into contact with.
Andy Beshear: (49:36)
So we’re both doing the tracing and the testing and the self-quarantine inside the facility. Right now we haven’t had any additional reports. Our hope is that we isolated them quickly enough, but we are watching very carefully everybody that they would have come into contact with because in a closed facility like this, just like a nursing home or other places that it can spread fast, and we’re wanting to make sure we stemmed that. Also want to mention that our inmates are actually making masks. We’ll show some of them tomorrow. They’re making cloth masks that can be worn by the general public, but we’re also having them wear them, which is a little bit that they can do to protect themselves, and they are being worn at that facility right now and will be worn in other facilities.
Andy Beshear: (50:28)
Let me try to answer … One is a question about a UPS employee that died from the coronavirus. We are aware of the UPS employee that has died. However, they are an individual that resided in Clark County, Indiana, which is why they’re not on our list, even though I believe they were in Kentucky. All right, folks I know we’ve gone right about an hour and we had some good news and some tough news today. Know that your actions every single day help us address this virus, help us flatten the curve, and help us save lives. And even on a day where we had to announce as many deaths as we did today, please know that that number would be greater and we would be losing more people but for your willingness and your motivation to do what’s right every day. This is about us being a good neighbor and not just those who live next to us.
Andy Beshear: (51:32)
In this state and in this country, everybody ought to be our neighbor, and we ought to owe a duty to every single person. Well, the time to show that is right now because our actions, our actions every single day, make a difference. So remember those traits from the greatest generation. Personal responsibility, integrity, work ethic, and faithful commitment. Those same traits can guide us through this coronavirus. I know this generation, us, we can be great too. We can be great by passing this test of humanity, protecting people around us in Kentucky. We can be one of those bright, shining examples of when we take all the division and we push it away and we come together to protect one another, the great work that we can do. I’ll see you tomorrow at five. Thank you.
Speaker 7: (52:25)