Apr 9, 2020
Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear COVID-19 Briefing Transcript April 9
Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear announced expanded temporary disability benefits to front-line workers in a coronavirus press conference April 9. Read the full transcript of all updates here.
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Andy Beshear: (00:00)
Start the same way every day. It’s part of our resiliency. It’s part of our commitment. It’s how we know that we have to continue to work every single day to be physically, emotionally strong, that while we’re looking at months, we’re not looking at years, that we’re going to have to have what it takes to get through this to protect Kentuckians around us. We’ve talked many times about the greatest generation as probably the closest analogy to the type of changes that have been made in our economy and in our daily lives. We talked a little bit about what some of those traits are from integrity to commitment, to faithfulness in what we are doing. Let’s make sure that today, you’re just as committed as yesterday. It was a beautiful day out there in Kentucky today. Let’s make sure that we do even better this weekend than we did last weekend. Last weekend, we did even better than the weekend before.
Andy Beshear: (01:04)
Remember, how we are doing on social distancing manifests about two weeks out. What we were doing right now helps to what we call “flatten that curve.” That’s basically that we save lives, that we make sure we have the healthcare capacity to take care of our neighbors. We are in a test of our humanity. It’s the best way I can say what we are facing, and you are passing it. Here’s the challenge. We got to pass it every day. We have to pass it every hour of every day, knowing that just one decision that we know in right can truly affect and infect a lot of people that are out there. We know we’re going to get through this because we’re going to follow the 10 steps that we talk about every day to defeat this coronavirus.
Andy Beshear: (01:53)
Number one is the most important: healthy at home. You should be at home. Yes, you can go to work if you’re going to work. Yes, you can go to the grocery store if you need to go there, or the pharmacy. Yes, you can go out and get exercise, but none of those are supposed to be an excuse for socializing. They’re supposed to be for getting what you need. Remember, when we all thank these healthcare providers on the front lines, and we should, that all they’ve asked for us is to stay home. Even when they appreciate the meals and the rest, the number one thing they’re asking is to stay home. I don’t think that’s a very big ask for what they are putting on the line. Let’s make sure we honor their courage and their sacrifice and that we do what they’re asking.
Andy Beshear: (02:43)
Number two is avoid crowds and gatherings, no exceptions. I see different ways that people are trying to still do things they did in the past and try to innovate different ways. Folks, if it’s not virtual or on the phone, let’s not try to be the exception. Let’s try to do everything that we can to increase our social distancing and to make sure that we are defeating this virus. Number three is practicing social distancing. That means when you have to be somewhere, being six feet apart. It doesn’t mean going somewhere so you can be with people six feet apart. It’s when you happen to come along somebody.
Andy Beshear: (03:22)
Number four is when to seek care. Remember, if you’re nervous but healthy, call the coronavirus hotline. If you are sick but would have not otherwise sought care, call. Don’t go to your primary care physician. If you are truly sick, then yes, seek care, or if you are injured. Kycovid19.ky.gov… That is the resource to go to for various guidance. Washing your hands and surfaces… Remember, we got to do it the right way. We got to do it the right way every time. Let’s keep that up.
Andy Beshear: (03:58)
Apply for benefits. We’re going to have an update on that from Josh Benton today. You may have seen some news that I think we are number 10 right now, an increase in unemployment across the United States. That doesn’t mean that we have more unemployment. It means we are processing them faster than most other states. Now, we have so many people that need help. I know what Josh will tell you, is we’re working as hard and as fast as we can. I know we’re working harder and faster than other states, but that’s not an excuse. If you are waiting and you are anxious, then it is not an excuse. We will work harder. Have patience with us. We will get there.
Andy Beshear: (04:42)
Prioritizing your mental health… We don’t just want to be able to eventually come out of this. We want to come out of it strong. We know, because we look at those Philadelphia and St. Louis graphs all the time, that we have to be strong enough, resilient enough to do this as long as it takes to defeat the virus, knowing that there can be that second bump that takes people we love away from us.
Andy Beshear: (05:05)
Do not travel. James, do you have that new map from Christian County that they sent to us? If you can look for that, we’ll pop that up when it’s ready. Just another example of, whether that’s from other states or even other counties, we should be staying at home as much as possible. Only places you ought to be going are work, to get necessary supplies, or to care for a loved one, or pursuant to a court order if you have visitation for your kids.
Andy Beshear: (05:39)
Finally, report noncompliance. If there are areas out there where we need to help, that’s something that we want to do. Now we always talk about the top 10. Oh, here it is. This is as of April 9th. It shows us, not just neighbors to the South but neighbors to the North. What it shows is that we need to make sure that, not only are we not traveling at all, but the risks to traveling to other states that right now have a more significant coronavirus outbreak than we do. For those on our Southern border, this was put together by Christian County. Whether it’s Simpson County or others, there is significantly more concern in counties to their South. Yes, they are more densely populated. What you do if you go there is you bring every contact back. That’s why we have our no-travel order to other states.
Andy Beshear: (06:39)
We talked about the top 10. We also have the 11th, which is fill out your census. We are doing better, as of two days ago, than every other Southern state. That’s not enough. Let’s do better than everybody else. I mean, we have come together in a way that I think is special, I think sets us apart. I think it makes us number one in the commitment that we have had to defeat this coronavirus. If we can transfer it to this, it’s going to make rebuilding a lot easier. If you haven’t done it, please do it.
Andy Beshear: (07:10)
The other thing that I ask of everybody each and every day using our hashtags, #TeamKentucky, #TogetherKy, #Patriot, and #Healthyathome, is to model the behavior that we need to see. One of the reasons that we are flattening the curve, one of the reasons that we are saving people’s lives is you haven’t just bought into it. You do feel like it’s your duty, and I am eternally grateful for that. I think I am the luckiest governor in this country because of what you’ve been willing to do and how you’ve absorbed it as our collective duty. This is one of the reasons. This is one of the reasons we’ve had more, and more, and more people get onboard because you’ve almost shown your joy in doing something for your fellow man. That passing the test of humanity is something that we can be proud of. Every day, we show a little bit of what you put out on social media because it encourages other people to do the same.
Andy Beshear: (08:11)
Let’s look at what we have today. Oh, I think this is pretty special. It’s one of our teachers and coaches, and one of our, I think, a PE teacher and coach saying hi to her family which, again, is hard. We’re going to talk about senior care facilities, which are being hit especially hard, but how important this is right now. This is, again, another example of doing those things together as a family. We’ve talked about trying to make the most of the moments. Spending time, if you’re lucky enough to be in a stable home, with your kids not only helps them. It helps you. It helps my anxiety. Let’s make sure that we do try to take those moments.
Andy Beshear: (09:05)
All right. I’ve been saying over the past couple days, no house parties, that if you have people that come over to your house, you spread the coronavirus. You probably think it’s innocent. It’s just one other couple. You may even say in your mind, “Well, we’re the only two couples that are going to get together during this period of time and let our kids play.” We cannot do that. That’s how the coronavirus spreads. You know what? These guys, these folks, not just guys, showed us how we can do a house party. That’s by Zoom. That’s by FaceTime. They figured out that you could still see each other, and you could still enjoy it. I want to thank them for showing us how you can still have that connection with people without being physically together.
Andy Beshear: (09:58)
I’ve been asked a number of questions about churches that aren’t complying last couple days. Let me say, I mean, the real story here in Kentucky is how many are, is how our faith communities of all faiths come together and recognize what is so important for their flocks and for our fellow human being. Lighting up green each night, I think, is just one example of that coming together. Now, let me say that our faith community is leading, absolutely leading, during this time. I couldn’t be more grateful. I couldn’t be more proud of our pastors, of our ministers, of our rabbis, and our amons, and our deacons, and everybody else for, not only recognizing what we need to be worshiping at home, but all the other services that our churches do and houses of worship do because there are so many. I’m going to talk about Easter and Passover here in a little bit, but I want to recognize everything that they are doing.
Andy Beshear: (11:10)
This is actually a member of the media taking a picture in Pikeville. If you’ve ever been at events in Pikeville, you know that this is a pretty special place where a lot of them happen. It’s what he wrote that hit me. When you have kids my age, you have seen Finding Nemo and second one, Finding Dory. That comment, “Just keep swimming… ” It really hit me. It’s a keep going. Keep doing it every single day, knowing that if we keep going, we will get out of this. Waking up every day, and whether it’s thinking, “Just keep swimming, just keep swimming,” let’s just keep working. Let’s just keep working.
Andy Beshear: (11:57)
City of Russell Springs… Again, honoring those that we have lost. We’re seeing this all over Kentucky. It’s just an example of how united we truly are. J.D. Shelburne… I think about the short time that I’ve been governor and how different it seemed to have been before and then after this coronavirus. I got to meet J.D. Shelburne, a Kentuckian, a rising star in Nashville when he agreed to be on the cover of our tourism travel magazines. He did a press conference with us in the Rotunda, wrote a new song about Kentucky, which is great, and now is going to be doing a concert to raise money for our Team Kentucky Fund. He is a great guy. Admittedly, I’m very jealous of his hair because he has a lot more than I do. I just hide it pretty well. Appreciate this was him being very willing and wanting to do it.
Andy Beshear: (13:02)
Let’s talk very briefly about our commitment and our recommitment every day. Because of the job you are doing, I think there is no question that we are better protecting people around us. When you look at us versus other states… The data’s a little older, but I’d like to see the line graphs again that are adjusted per population. We are working really hard each and every day to make sure that we better protect our people. Whether it’s this graph, which you can really see the difference, or this one, it does show, even adjusted for that population, that what you’re doing makes a difference. This is the good news. There’s some tough news too about where the coronavirus is spreading just like it is across the rest of the country. I give this to you for encouragement. I need you to keep it up.
Andy Beshear: (14:02)
There’s a lot of talk nationally about, are we at the peak or what are the plans for X and Y? We are nowhere near out of the woods when we look at today. I want us to continue to want to be one of the most successful states. Got a call from the vice president last night. I was talking to him about personal protective equipment. One of the things he said is how effective that we have been in Kentucky because their data shows what everybody else does, even when adjusted for population or any other number. You are doing a great job. Every day that we lessen, more people are harmed. Every day we do more, more people are protected. I show this for encouragement, hoping that it just makes you want to do all that much more because every decision you make matters.
Andy Beshear: (14:59)
I said this before, but it’s the only crisis that I can think of in my lifetime where the decisions of every Kentuckian, every individual, truly matters about how many people are saved or how many people are harmed. Remember, you can be a hero in the midst of this too, that while it doesn’t feel like it, you have more control on it than just about any other crisis we faced. Continue to make those good decisions, and we will continue to see graphs like this.
Andy Beshear: (15:34)
Let’s just show the Act Now just as a reminder, as I have to come up here and report deaths every day and will report some today. I will tell you it’s something I wasn’t prepared for when I became governor. It’s one of the hardest things that I do. What we know right now is we are reducing them. These are all projections. We can’t tell you how much because… We’ll be able to give you some projections when this is all over. Again, what we know is that we are saving lives, all of us collectively. This just being one example of, at least at the time when they were made, how many people we can save simply by following the guidance.
Andy Beshear: (16:23)
All right. I want to go into a number of updates. Have a decent amount to cover today. Number one is we’ve had to make the tough decision to close Natural Bridge State Resort Park and Cumberland Falls State Resort Park. Again, we’re trying to keep as many of our state parks open for people to hike, and get outside, and get exercise. It helps with physical, emotional, and intellectual health. Where we have seen crowds gather in a way to where we know that we have to take action in those individual places, we are taking action. Folks, let’s make sure that we’re not using state parks to congregate. Everywhere that we see that, we’ll have to continue to take action.
Andy Beshear: (17:10)
As you know, we have no overnight guests at any of our state parks. Our campgrounds are closed for that, too. The only people right now that are staying overnight at our state parks are healthcare workers, are first responders that need a place to self-quarantine or want to be there so that they’re not potentially bringing something home to their family. I know that that has helped in a lot of places. Our job is action. Our job is to wake up each and every day, just like our county judges that requested this and think about, how many more things can we do to help people? A second piece is we have a new executive order on workers comp. For that we have my chief of staff, LaTasha Buckner.
LaTasha Buckner: (18:02)
Thank you, governor.
LaTasha Buckner: (18:03)
Okay, so for once I’m here and not telling you what you can’t do, I’m going to give you some good news. We have a new executive order, and what it does is allow for temporary total disability payments to more categories of workers than were available to have access to this before. And this is a group of people who are on the front lines as well. Previously, first responders, healthcare workers, EMS, firefighters, people who had COVID exposure and were required to be quarantined by a healthcare professional, got a percentage of their pay when that happened, from the workers’ compensation insurers plans. Now we have a larger category of people who are required because of their jobs, to have a lot of interaction with other people. And because of that, they’re at a higher risk for COVID exposure. So if you’re in these categories and your health care professional says you’ve got to be quarantined, you’re not actually sick necessarily, but you’ve had exposure, you’re going to get access to these benefits.
LaTasha Buckner: (19:04)
Those categories are workers in childcare, grocery, postal service, domestic violence shelters, child advocacy workers, rape crisis centers, active National Guard, military, corrections officers, and social workers. So now if you’re ordered to be quarantined, you don’t have to go through the long process that was required before, you can start getting the benefits at the beginning when you really need them. And then at the end, the employers can still try to oppose that claim and deny the benefits. But until that’s finally determined by the workers’ compensation people, you’re going to at least get the benefits through that point. Thank you.
Andy Beshear: (19:46)
Thank you, Latasha. She will likely never get enough credit for the long hours that she is putting in through this, but we could not be doing what we’re doing without her and so many other people’s work. Next is an update on unemployment from Josh Benton.
Josh Benton: (20:14)
Thank you, governor. I’m just going to give a couple of updates on numbers of claims and payments that have gone out, and also talk about the new resources that are available through the additional $600 a week for those on UI. So the first slide that we’ll look at is talking about call center volume. This has been a lot of topic of conversation since we’ve really seen a spike in claims since March 16th, and you can see there what our average was for year to date before March 16th, and what it’s been since. There’s some good news on this front. We’ve been hiring and training and staffing over the past week and a half. We’ve seen progress. We’ve been answering more calls every day than we have the day before. I’m actually hearing from many of you around the state, just sending me an email saying, “I got through on the call line today.” And I appreciate that feedback, and letting us know that you’re able to talk to someone.
Josh Benton: (21:10)
We’re going to keep adding staff until we can respond to every call. Looking now at just some more information about claims, looking at this year to last. As you can see here, obviously it tells us what we all know, is that we have exponentially a larger amount of unemployment insurance claims from March 19 to March 20, and then from April 19 to where we are right now. This tells us a lot about our system. Our system is old, there’s no doubt about that. It’s one of the oldest in the country. We had to make some significant adjustments so more claims could go into it, but it’s taking on about 14,000 claims a day. That’s a significant amount, it’s a huge volume of claims that are being processed and entered in. We’re continuing to make updates and tweaks to make it more user friendly, and so that we can process things more effectively.
Josh Benton: (22:11)
And now looking at payments. So we were able to start paying the payments for those individuals that filed on March 16th last week. And so when you look at that, we’ve paid over 208,000 Kentuckians well over $100 million in claims. That’s continuing to increase every day, obviously. When you look at this on time payment rate, and what that really means is that we’re talking about those that have filed since March 16th. And while that’s a nice number and a good number, our goal is 100%. And our staff has done a phenomenal job of processing claims as quickly as possible, but our goal is 100%. And so we’re going to do everything we can to catch up the rest of this week and meet the demand that awaits us next week, so that we can make sure that we are paying claims on time, and even though that’s only 13% difference, that’s over 20,000 people. And we want to make sure that they’re made whole.
Josh Benton: (23:20)
And then finally the $600 a week. Real quickly to provide that update, we received the federal funding stream information yesterday afternoon. We’ve set that up, and we are going to start to make payments, an additional $600 a week to everyone on unemployment insurance, whatever UI program that might be, they’re going to get an additional $600 a week. That starts effective… Those that receive payments for the week of March 29th. So we’re going to play catch up for a couple of days to get those payments out. No one has to refile. No one has to request an additional payment. That’s all going to be done automatically to everyone who’s filed. It will be a separate payment from the normal UI payment. So typically, when all this gets caught up, they’ll receive their normal payment, and then a day or two later the additional payment will come. So for those that get a payment every two weeks, that additional 600 will come in a two week payment. So $1,200 every two weeks. For those that are working with their employers on e-claims, that’ll be a weekly payment.
Josh Benton: (24:27)
So those are the updates. It’s something you don’t have to reapply for. We want to stress that, and you don’t have to request an additional payment on that. Thank you.
Andy Beshear: (24:40)
So for those 20,000 Kentuckians that are still waiting, we are providing no excuses. This is just intended to be an update. We should have already gotten to you by now. I hope you understand the enormity of the challenge, but you deserve results, not excuses. With that said, I also want to say I’m very proud of our staff and workforce that have faced maybe a size of a challenge that they never, never could have anticipated, and I will say that what we are hearing from around the country is the speed at which they are moving is much faster than others. But I know for those of you that are still waiting, I’m going to ask that you have patience with us, and I know it’s hard, but we are working fast, and working fast means that hopefully we will get to you very, very soon.
Andy Beshear: (25:34)
All right, so it’s a very special week for at least a couple of faiths. Now, for those of the Jewish faith, it’s Passover. For those of the Christian faith, this is the Holy week, and tomorrow’s Good Friday. We have Easter coming up on Sunday. These are very special times, very special times for me, and I know they’re very special times for many of you, but as we have talked about, with this coronavirus this year, it’s very important that we worship from home, or in a non in-person setting. We now know that how just from one revival in Hopkins County, we believe that there are at least 54 cases that have come out of that, and six deaths. And that’s not a statement on their leaders or communities at all, it just shows what can happen when we don’t observe these recommendations. So every single mass gathering that we might have on any of these days, any one, think about, that could infect more than 54 people or cause six deaths. And let me tell you, those 54 people, they weren’t all there, nor I doubt where those six people that have passed away. And so you might think that just by going well, you’re just taking a risk on yourself, you’re not. With 80% of people being asymptomatic, what it means is that you suddenly become a carrier, based on your decision. Then you infect everybody else around you based on a decision that you made, where everybody else made a different decision. So I hope every single individual, not just those that are thinking about holding services, every single individual that is considering going, I want you to ask yourself, what about everybody else that’s not making that decision, that will become infected because of you? And do you want it on your conscience, that if you are asymptomatic, you never know, but you get this because you were at something this weekend and someone else passes away for it. How does that reconcile with your faith and with your beliefs?
Andy Beshear: (27:54)
Mine tells me that we look out for our neighbor, and that we protect our neighbor. And I’ve never been as sure of something in my faith as I am on this, that we must protect each other. And with I think now less than a dozen groups thinking about holding in-person services this weekend, it means almost everybody is doing the right thing. Don’t frustrate the sacrifice of so many others. And today we’ve got a video of faith leaders from across the spectrum, from different faiths, from different denominations, and they’re all saying the same thing, that the best thing that you can do, Kentuckians, to celebrate your faith even in this most special of weeks, is to protect your neighbor and to protect each other.
Paul Gibson: (28:53)
Hey Kentucky, my name is Paul Gibson and I’m pastor of Harrodsburg Baptist church.
Rabbi Shmuel: (28:57)
This is Rabbi Shmuel with Chabad of Kentucky.
Bishop John Stowe: (29:00)
I’m Bishop John Stowe of the Catholic diocese of Lexington, wishing you and your loved ones a happy Easter.
Tim Finley: (29:05)
Good morning everyone. Tim Finley here, pastor of the Kingdom Fellowship Christian Life Center, and as you know, it’s resurrection weekend and we’re staying healthy at home.
Paul Gibson: (29:14)
I know that with it being Easter and Passover this week, so many of us are going to be tempted to want to go to a local house of worship. Don’t. Stay healthy at home. So that, when this is all over, we’re able to come together in our churches and synagogues, and have some of the largest celebrations we’ve ever had.
Rabbi Shmuel: (29:31)
On behalf of my family, I’d like to wish you all a very happy and joyous Passover holiday. In these trying times, may God bless us with the strength to realize the power of the individual, and come together to collectively experience the meaning of the holiday, of holiday, of freedom.
Bishop John Stowe: (29:47)
Yeah, we’d all like to be at church today, but this is a time where we have to stay healthy at home.
Tim Finley: (29:52)
As much as we would love to be there in person physically, we know that right now we can’t do that. But that’s okay. Resurrection has not been canceled.
Speaker 1: (30:01)
Let us continue to practice safe distancing, so that everyone gets a chance to celebrate Hanukkah, Christmas, Eid, once this pandemic is over.
Paul Gibson: (30:13)
Stay safe, and stay healthy at home.
Tim Finley: (30:16)
Jesus rose from the dead, and we’re celebrating healthy at home online. So please make sure that you stay safe, and we’ll see you when we see you. God bless you.
Bishop John Stowe: (30:24)
Christ is risen. God bless you.
Speaker 2: (30:27)
Stay safe, Kentucky.
Andy Beshear: (30:38)
I want to thank our faith and other leaders from all over the Commonwealth for coming together and for doing what’s right. And if I can just… I’ve talked before about how divisions that had been there in the past have melted away with this. Got a very nice letter from the Commonwealth Policy Center, who… It’s a group that hadn’t necessarily agreed with me on just about anything in the past, but fully supportive, not just of the response to the coronavirus, but our push to make sure the people aren’t harmed by going to a service this weekend. Their director, Richard Nelson, and that group, I want to thank them. And again, that’s just an example right now about how we’re not Democrats or Republicans, or liberals, conservatives or moderates, but we are all Americans versus this coronavirus.
Andy Beshear: (31:40)
All right. So today’s update is that we have a 134 new cases of the coronavirus in Kentucky. Now with yesterday’s numbers, and things that came through the weekend, we did have a number of either duplicates or folks that are in other states but were tested here, and so our total number of cases that we can confirm in Kentucky right now are 1,452. That means there were either 28 duplicates, or ones that we could not, or that the lab may send in a little information, but it’s not the same information as we get from the Health Department. So 1,452. We have a system that is down today, so I’m not going to be able to provide a racial breakdown but we will have that again tomorrow. We believe it is very similar and unchanged as of yesterday. Now we can confirm that there have been 2,170 tests that have been administered, and we believe that number is now pretty close to accurate.
Andy Beshear: (32:49)
Hospitalization. 426 we can confirm have ever been in the hospital, with 228 currently in the hospital. The ICU has had 166 people ever, during this outbreak, 105 people currently in the ICUs. And let’s think about those folks. That’s an intensive care unit. Doesn’t mean everybody’s on a respirator, but it means that they need intensive care. So let’s think about those 105 people, and let’s be grateful and thankful for those that are helping them, and all those healthcare professionals and national public health week that are doing such a good job. And we can confirm at least 395 Kentuckians have recovered from the coronavirus. They had initially put a percentage on that, but there’s a whole lot of people that are close to recovering, or numbers we don’t have back in. And so I don’t think that as an overall number as is necessarily that telling, because remember, most people are going to recover from this coronavirus. It’s the ones that are most vulnerable that we are most concerned about.
Andy Beshear: (33:55)
So our breakdown of new cases by county are 62 in Jefferson, and again, that number is different than what Jefferson announced today, because of different cutoffs. But as you look at the last two days we worked with them, it all balances out. 33 in Fayette, 12 in Hopkins. Hopkins has been hit really, really hard, and their leaders are doing a really good job. I appreciate their leadership. Public health department is working as hard as they can. If you will, help me in, in praying and thinking for the people in Hopkins County. Three in Butler and Muhlenberg, two in Henderson and Kenton Lyon, Shelby, one in Clark, Davis, Hardin, Jessamine, Knox, McCracken, McLean, Powell, Spencer, Todd and Trimble. And two that we cannot confirm today.
Andy Beshear: (34:50)
134 cases is a lot, and it seems like a lot. But again, our trends even with that amount, are different than what we are seeing in other places. It’s hard to see good news in 134, and I don’t think there’s good news in 134, but what we see is that our escalation is growing. Our doubling rate is growing slower, our doubling rate is lower, even when you look at it as a percentage of tests. I know the social distancing is working, so keep it up, keep it up, keep it up. We absolutely know your sacrifice is working. Take pride in it, knowing you are helping your fellow human being.
Andy Beshear: (35:38)
And today I have to announce that we have six new deaths from the coronavirus. Less than a number of days that we’ve recently had. But these are six Kentuckians that we care about, that their families are going to miss them, their communities are going to miss them. Let’s make sure that we…
Andy Beshear: (36:03)
… light our houses, our places of business, our facilities up green tonight, and every night that we lose people. I can tell you it makes a difference. I see the comments on social media and otherwise, from some families, it makes a difference. And let’s make sure we have enough to where in every neighborhood, every town, and every county that people can see that we are showing the color of compassion, and of renewal, because especially in this week, for my faith, we know, we have faith that while that person’s physical body is no longer with us, their spirit is moving to a better place. That that body is just a vessel. Let’s also remember, because we read a little bit of the essay from a daughter who had lost her mom, how hard it must be to lose somebody during this Coronavirus, when you can’t have the same type of funeral, maybe you can’t even have the same type of closure.
Andy Beshear: (37:10)
So let’s make sure that we are even kinder to people, and that we show even more compassion, more care, and more thoughtfulness. So, if you know somebody that’s lost anybody during this time for any reason, call them, send them a text, write them a letter. That always means so much to people. Our six new deaths tonight are a 69-year-old male from Jefferson, an 83-year-old female from Jefferson, a 70-year-old female from Hopkins, a 59-year-old male from Jefferson, an 82-year-old female from Hopkins, and an 87-year-old female from Jefferson. And again, we believe that these two new deaths in Hopkins again can be traced, like so many others to a specific mass gathering. And I mention that not because of the community. I love that community, but just my hope that the situation that they’re facing, and the loss can help inspire the rest of us to make sure that we are all doing what it takes to defeat this Coronavirus, like I know they’re working on every single day. A couple of very specific updates. Want to start with Green River Correctional Facility. We have, as of tonight, one new inmate, and one new staff member that have tested positive for the Coronavirus. We think we will have some more, specifically we have some other inmates that are showing symptoms, and have been tested. We would expect at least some of those to come back positive, but this isn’t the day over day growth that we are seeing in some other areas. Our steps that we are taking are down there. Western State Hospital. Again, it’s hard to find good news when you have new cases. We have three additional staff members that have tested positive for the Coronavirus, no new patients, and no new deaths. We’re thinking about those staff members. They are also the brave, courageous souls that are taking care of people knowing that they have the Coronavirus. Thank you so much to them.
Andy Beshear: (39:35)
Now let’s move to our longterm care facilities. Folks, this is where the Coronavirus wreaks havoc. This is when we think, “Oh, it’s just a house party where we’re seeing somebody else,” or, “Oh, it’s just a couple of kids getting together.” And then they get together with some other kids, and they get together with some other kids, and somebody’s parent works in a longterm care facility. This is how quickly it’s escalating, and it’s doing this all around the United States, across the Commonwealth, we have 32 additional residents of longterm care facilities that have tested positive for the Coronavirus. 13 additional staff. And we’ve lost three more Kentuckians. This is why we’ve taken very aggressive action early on. Had we not restricted visitation, this would be significantly worse. But, we’re going to talk a little bit today about the number of steps we’re taking, and we’re going to talk tomorrow, and we’re probably going to talk every day about this. Because while we are grateful of our appearance of flattening the curve, where it’s spreading, and those who are at risk is really concerning here in the Commonwealth.
Andy Beshear: (40:52)
Want to mention two facilities in brief. And then I’m going to ask Dr. Stack to talk specifically about this area, because he has been spending most of his time on it now. The first is the Treyton Oaks facility in Jefferson County. There have been 29 confirmed cases in this one facility. It is a… if I remember right, a 12 floor, 180 facility, that as of now, there’ve been 29 cases, positive cases of Coronavirus. Eight staff, and 21 residents. And there have now been four deaths. Starting last night when we had significant tests come back, we, along with Louisville Metro, the National Guard, State Emergency Management, the governor’s office included, we’re working on a plan on how we could move and transport what we then thought were 17, but now it’s 18 residents to better care for them, to make sure that we had the care that they needed, and to also protect other residents in the facility. 17 of them were all on one wing.
Andy Beshear: (42:12)
They were transported starting at 9:00 AM today by ambulance with Louisville EMS, Suburban Fire, and many others. All of whom contributed to this. Our inspector general, Adam Mather from Health and Family Services was absolutely critical in finding the facilities, and I want to thank Norton Healthcare. CEO Ross Cox reached out to me specifically this morning, and said, “We’ve created an entire floor for them at a facility.” And his text to me said, “We’re going to take good care of them.” Thank you to their facility, and so many others. And I know Dr. Stack is also going to talk about a Lion County facility that’s been hit pretty hard. We were very excited to have our first set of volunteers there today. He’s going to talk a little bit more about what they’re doing. Steve.
Dr. Stack: (43:08)
Thank you, governor. So there are many successes that we can celebrate, and I do think that the steps that we took so quickly to try to protect these vulnerable populations are among them. I do want to give details, some of which the governor already mentioned, but I want to try to, just like the families who have taken the step to share details about their loved ones they’ve lost, and just like so many others have come and shared information that shows the really intense human impact that this takes on us. I want to try to pull the curtain back a little bit, just to share the sheer complexity involved in trying to navigate some of these challenges, and how Team Kentucky has really risen to the challenge. So just a little over 48 hours ago, I was in my office, and we had the outreach related to Rivers Bend, which is in Kuttawa, Kentucky by Paducah, and there’s a nursing facility there that’s independent living and skilled nursing together.
Dr. Stack: (44:07)
The leadership team had done all they could to try to navigate the situation up till that time, and then had reached a point beyond which they could not handle it. The local health department director, Jim Tolley reached out to me. He’s been fantastic. They were in his office, the leadership of the nursing home, the emergency management response person, the judge executive, and they were all in there together collaborating, trying to find a solution for their local community. I was able to bring my team together, and in the span of just a few hours, we had decided that we needed to call up medical student volunteers. I had communicated with and would also like to thank Dr. Jenny Franke, the CMO at Lourde’s Mercy Hospital, who had worked with us to admit one patient that needed placement. And in the span of a few hours, we had come up with at least a temporary patch. And I’m happy to report that the four medical students are onsite. So in a very short span of time, they had arrived. They are now already at work. They have embedded themselves in the teams. Two of the students are working 6:00 A to 6:00 P, and the other two are working 6:00 P to 6:00 A tonight. So to Gantz, and Meredith, and Amanda, and Heather, thank you. You are heroes. And… forgive me, it’s tough. We come up here, and we talk about this stuff, and we try to balance back and forth the humanity of this. And so I’m the first one on the team that got the chance to break down in front of you. But I want to tell you, these nursing homes get a bad rap too many times. I’m going to tell you, and I’m going to talk about Treyton Oaks.
Dr. Stack: (45:46)
These teams love these residents. The passion, and the care and the concern these leadership teams have for their residents is staggering, and profound. And so to these four medical students who are the first deployed volunteers, thank you so much. And Meredith sent me an email tonight like I’d asked her to, and don’t ask for it for open records, folks, allow her a little space, okay? Just to tell me that they’d embedded with the team, and that they are very warmly welcomed, and they’re being well supported and they’re being helpful. So then we move on to last evening, when we got outreach that Treyton Oak Towers in Louisville area had a problem. And at the time, they had a unit with many infected individuals, and they required assistance. Now I’m going to give, I cannot praise enough this leadership team. And the team that I’m part of, we had secretary Freelander, and Adam Mather, and I’m going to forget people, but I wrote this down.
Dr. Stack: (46:48)
We had Doug and Kevin and Jason and Kristi and Rob and Dr. Sarah Moyer. I mean we had a whole crew, between 8:45 and 9:15, 9:30 on the phone, trying to figure out what to do. That leadership team at Treyton Oak Towers had done everything. Everything that I tried to anticipate, and ask, “Have you done this? Have you done this?” They’d done it all, and they’d done more. They’re heroes. They clearly care for their residents as if they were their own family, and when they reached out to us, they had exhausted every option. And Adam Mather did a yeoman’s job, and Steve Hester at Norton Healthcare. They figured it out rapidly, we can’t do this solution for every facility. This is part of the challenge. Look how many people I’m describing it took, and how hard the effort was, because we had to evacuate ultimately 18 people, the next morning, requiring Louisville Fire, requiring National Guard for assistance. All of these individuals involved.
Dr. Stack: (47:47)
We are working as hard as we can to find solutions that we can deliver for the entire Commonwealth. But I want you all to know just how many people rose to the challenge to make this happen, and get those 18 people somewhere safe where they could get the care they need, to get the relief to this team, and staff at Treyton Oak Towers that they desperately needed, to make sure that we did everything we could to keep the other 160 residents plus in that facility safe, everyone, everyone was absolutely wonderful. It’s tough to sustain these things, and sometimes the little silly things get frustrating as we go through this. But I want to tell you, you should all be so proud of the people in Kentucky, and the work they are doing on your behalf to keep you safe. And we’re going to keep it up, and we’re going to show up every day and do everything we can to make sure we get through this together, and get through it well.
Dr. Stack: (48:44)
But when we asked you to do these things, when you hear Josh Minton talk about the impact economically to folks, and you hear the governor talk about this, we are in this together, and we are going to have to hold together in the weeks and coming months. And if we do that, I’m convinced we’re going to get through it stronger. But thank you to all the people who rallied in the last 48 hours or so alone, just to help us address these concerns for these communities. I’m very proud to have been part of those groups. Thank you governor.
Andy Beshear: (49:14)
So it’s tough news today on nursing homes, and we’re probably going to have tough news at least in the coming week. It’s happened all over the country, and that’s what this virus does, we are working every day. We spent a large part of today on trying to have other opportunities like this preplanned to where we can have a facility, or a wing of an existing hospital or facility open and ready, and we’re trying to ramp up our timetable for opening up the fairgrounds where we could have people. I’m also going to talk tomorrow about a longterm care advisory task force, that secretary Freelander will talk about. But before I turn to questions today, just another opportunity to show the face of someone that we have lost to the Coronavirus. So we again give these numbers, and they can be dehumanizing.
Andy Beshear: (50:17)
We can say, “Oh, well today’s six are lower than yesterday’s.” They’re all people. All people we care about. And they’re all people that are special. This is David Pitman, the first Pulaski County resident known to have died from the Coronavirus. His son made a Facebook video that tens of thousands of people across this country have watched. And you should too. He talks about his dad, and what a special person his dad was. And you ought to hear it and in his words. He used that moment, and right after walking out to urge people to stay at home, even with the loss that that Dustin Pitman, David’s son had sustained, the very first act he took was trying to protect other people. That’s pretty special for Dustin. And I know he got it, at least in part from his dad, David Pitman, and I’m sure his mom too.
Andy Beshear: (51:26)
So let’s remember that these losses are real, that they are impactful, and the virtually every family that has talked about them has made one major ask of the public, take this seriously. Let’s make sure we protect people. All right. So with that, we will turn to questions. We have I think three reporters here with us, Joe Sonka, Phil Pendleton, and Karen Czar. And then I just have a couple of other questions that have been in. So we may try to do three passes here, and I’ll go back and forth with the questions. And Karen, why don’t you start us off?
Karen Czar: (52:04)
I’ve had several listeners call us saying that they have split families, and according to the Supreme court ruling, they have to abide by sending children back and forth. They have found out that one household is not complying. What can they do?
Andy Beshear: (52:19)
The question is for families that split visitation, what does one parent do if they find that the other parent isn’t complying with the orders on being a safe? That’s a good question. Let us try to get some direct guidance on that. That’s got to be a very scary situation for a parent to be in. And I would hope that all parents out there, even in this situation are doing the right thing for their kids. Let me get you some direct guidance on that, because I want to make sure that we do it right, but let me also make a plea. I mean, especially if you’re splitting visitation, make sure you’re not frustrating the sacrifices that people are making, and whether or not that’s about your spouse that you might not have the best relationship with, it ought to be about your kid.
Andy Beshear: (53:14)
And it ought to be about making sure that you provide that child the safest possible home. And remember, children aren’t immune to the Coronavirus. While it hasn’t harmed them nearly to the same degree as others, across the United States we have lost at least a couple, and others have at different times had to be hospitalized, but it’s also a way that it spreads to other people. With several major healthcare providers and hospitals announcing temporary furloughs of employees today, am I considering an increase in the allocation of funds to healthcare providers? We’re working on a couple of different ways to try to help our healthcare providers. We’re working on some bridge loans. We’re working on some areas of Medicaid. We have been…
Andy Beshear: (54:03)
… sent some things for our department of insurance that we are working on right now to try to help them. And we’re also talking to them about PPE and whether or not, not just providing, but maybe we can help in different areas of buying that.
Andy Beshear: (54:19)
The CARES Act money is not here yet. That’s the money you hear about from the major stimulus that was passed. And we are still awaiting very significant guidance on it about whether or not we’re going to have it and we can spend it, or whether or not it’s a reimbursement. And I certainly hope it’s not a reimbursement because if we have 1.8 billion to spend, but we have to pay it first before being reimbursed, well, we don’t have that amount of money. So, we certainly are going to be looking to use significant dollars there to help our healthcare providers for a couple of reasons.
Andy Beshear: (54:55)
Number one, they’re on the front lines of fighting the coronavirus and we need them. And number two, they have made sacrifices in many ways, just like our folks out there about not doing elected procedures, which has just decimated their balance sheets. And we need to make sure, I mean, now more than ever, that we have good public health and good providers in every area. Phil.
On the Green River Correctional, I’m getting a few people wanting to know about people that are about or ready to be released or maybe their stint is just about over. One parent of a son who’s there says that he did something stupid. He feels like now he’s going to be infected and worried. To people like that, are they about ready to be released or what’s going on in that situation?
Andy Beshear: (55:45)
So, we’ve done a couple of releases. One was medically fragile folks that fell within a certain category. Two was a subset of juveniles. And the third, which is a little over 700, is in process now. Those are folks that are within six months of the end of their sentence. That’s not when they’re qualified for parole, it’s at the end of their sentence or non-violent, non-sexual crimes. And those are in process right now.
Andy Beshear: (56:22)
So, if that person is a member of that 700 group, then there’s opportunity there. Otherwise, we’d have to take a look at that. And we’re always willing to look at some other opportunities, but we know that that group is currently in process, remembering that it’s… I hate to say it’s complicated, but we have to do it in a way in the world we’re living in with the coronavirus. In other words, they’ve got to be screened from the health standpoint and they’ve got to have a place that they can go to be quarantined for 14 days after release.
Andy Beshear: (56:57)
Amid Easter and Passover, what is your message to people celebrating those holidays and to religious leaders? My message is, thank you for your sacrifice. There is certainly in both the Passover story and the resurrection steps and sacrifice that were made, that I believe that we are taught to follow. I hope people will see in this time with what is out there, that we are living our faith by being willing to change the way that we’re worshiping this weekend, that our sacrifices is fairly small to those that we are going to be able to help. And hopefully, we see us truly living out the faith that we’re called to. Joe.
I have a question about your call with Vice President Pence last night. You expressed the need for PPE and medical supplies. Did he give you information on whether some of that is coming?
Andy Beshear: (57:58)
So, the question is, my call with Vice President Pence, did I request PPE and other supplies? Yes. Did he give me any confirmation of it? He said that he would start working on it, what would have been this morning. We haven’t heard back, and my conversation is… Our requests are pretty reasonable. Other states have done the millions. We’re just trying to request what we think we could use right now.
Andy Beshear: (58:24)
It was a positive conversation. He asked about ventilators. And right now we have enough, but I told him when when the need arose we would certainly be requesting, but knowing that there is a significant demand in certain places right now and hoping that we can flatten our curve enough to where other people may be even coming down on their cases. And there are more of those resources available.
Andy Beshear: (58:50)
In addition to that call, we’ve been working with a number of different companies and groups today, and believe that in the next couple of days we’re going to have some real success on certain types of PPE that have come in. We don’t have nearly enough in our DPH warehouse and our providers don’t have nearly enough, but we are starting to get some singles. Not a lot of doubles but singles in what we’re getting in. My hope is that I can share some of those numbers soon. We’re having to inventory all the donations to get up to that, but I will say that it is not nearly where we need it to be.
Andy Beshear: (59:32)
What is the definition of flattening the curve? Well, this is one where we’re dealing with projections based on limited data, but I get to show it. We get to show it. Let’s show Philadelphia versus St. Louis, since somebody asked. What we see in a pandemic is, if nothing is done, it spreads very quickly amongst people. This would be normal activity where everybody is out and about. This actually had a major parade too. So think about big sporting events that are probably the best correlation there.
Andy Beshear: (01:00:10)
Notice there is no flat, it is a peak and a fall. And these are deaths, by the way. These aren’t just cases. These were deaths during the Spanish flu. Flattening the curve is making sure that you don’t only reduce the number of deaths, but you elongate, right? You push down the spike and you elongate it over time, which allows you to have the healthcare capacity to help more people, which ultimately reduces deaths and hopefully long-term impacts of what we’re dealing with.
Andy Beshear: (01:00:47)
So, here’s where I know that we’re flattening the curve and it’s not just us. I heard it on our call with the vice president last night. We’re seeing it in data from the Kaiser Foundation and just about everywhere else that’s charting this. It’s our rate of new cases, even as a percentage and adjusted for population. Even with the additional testing we have, is not increasing at the same rate as many others and we’re now seeing all over the country people being able to attribute that to social distancing. Big difference between Philadelphia and St. Louis is when they started their social distancing. We started doing it very, very early. Let’s go back. Karen.
Karen Czar: (01:01:37)
You had mentioned the report that you and the vice president talked about. In other states now, reporters there are telling me that they’re now looking at our graph like we’re now looking at Philadelphia and St. Louis because they’re behind us as far as where they are on the virus. What advice do you have for them who are turning in now to hear from you? What did we do well going on and what would you tweak?
Andy Beshear: (01:02:00)
The question is, to other states that are looking at us and being worried that, let’s say, they’re Philadelphia and we’re St. Louis, though we got to do better than that, what would my advice be? Take all the steps now. We were able to take action early and we took it so early, we were able to do it in increments and to let people adjust to it, which was my goal the entire time. It’s not as scary and we’re able to absorb it a little bit more.
Andy Beshear: (01:02:31)
If we take one additional step every day, we’re way past that in the country. So, people need to go ahead and shut restaurants and bars for in-person service. And there are some places that haven’t done that. They need to close forward-facing businesses. They need what I would call a healthy-at-home order. They need to eliminate mass gatherings.
Andy Beshear: (01:02:56)
And I don’t believe… A number of states originally did more than this or more than this. All that does is encourage a crowd. We can’t have them at all. And every day after they’ve done what every other state has done, they need to think about what else that they can do. I mean, we’re living this thing not week by week and not day by day. We’re living it really, hour by hour.
Andy Beshear: (01:03:17)
And I would say from our experience, especially in the last 48 hours, really start concentrating on your nursing homes. That’s been… It’s not a new wave. We were always worried about it, but how hard they’ve been hit across the country has certainly manifested now. And that probably has something to do with when the virus actually hit the United States and it’s natural spread.
Andy Beshear: (01:03:42)
And the other thing that I would say is be transparent with your people. I hope the projections I’ve shown are high. At least from the initial projections out there, I would say that they are moderate, but our people can take it. They just want to know, and they just want to know we’re doing everything we can. I think our people know that we can’t do everything. At the limited resources that we have, we’re going to lose people. That’s what happens in a pandemic. But knowing what they can do too, having a little bit of control. Phil.
Do you know if the plasma donated by the COVID-19 patients that have recovered, has that been an effective treatment?
Andy Beshear: (01:04:22)
The question is, do we know if the plasma donated by other COVID patients that have recovered is an effective treatment? I don’t think anybody is ready to declare it effective yet. I think it is still in very early stages. I mean, in fact, if you look at exactly when it was started, with most places, we haven’t even gone 14 days within the virus.
Andy Beshear: (01:04:43)
And then, I rely on the doctors and the scientific community when they can tell me that they believe it is truly effective. And people are trying a lot of things out there. Again, I just want to make sure before we say this treatment works or looks like it works or is promising, that we truly know that it is.
Andy Beshear: (01:05:04)
What do I need to see before social distancing measures are lifted? After what we’re seeing in Japan, where they did them too early, what we see in that St. Louis graph when they bump up again, I really want people committed right now 100% dug in and resilient to continue this as long as it takes. This is going to be… A couple of things are going to have to happen before we reach the point where we start loosening them.
Andy Beshear: (01:05:35)
Number one, we’re going to have to not only have peaked, which we haven’t yet, but we’re going to have to be significantly on the downward slide from it. And then, it’s not going to be everything at once. It can’t be. It’s going to have to be certain activities. It’s even going to have to be certain populations of us, those that are either more resilient to the coronavirus or it doesn’t harm them as much. It’s going to be really complicated and it’s going to probably seem unfair to a lot of people when we are able to reach that day where we can slowly relax some of this social distancing.
Andy Beshear: (01:06:14)
So, I know everybody wants to think about that and that seems to be some of the stuff that’s going on in the national media right now, but until we’ve peaked and until we’re coming down and until we know we’re in the decline, let’s make sure we spend our time committed to doing what it takes right now, knowing we’re in crunch time right now. Joe.
I want to follow up on what you said about the release of state inmates. Are you saying that all of the 180 or so medically fragile have been released now? And secondly, how many of the 780 or so after that have been released so far?
Andy Beshear: (01:06:49)
The question is, how many of the medically fragile inmates have we released to this point? I’m asking Michael Brown. And then, how many of the other 700?
Michael Brown: (01:06:59)
As of yesterday, we have about 155 to about 186. So, that [crosstalk 00:13:05].
Andy Beshear: (01:07:05)
So, as of yesterday, 155 of the medically fragile.
Michael Brown: (01:07:08)
The other group has been screened for placement and containment, and we’ll probably have a solid number on them tomorrow.
Andy Beshear: (01:07:12)
Okay. And the other group we describe as in process, making sure that they’re being screened for… Again, having the place they can go to self-quarantine and the other steps, we’ll provide another update on that tomorrow. All right.
Andy Beshear: (01:07:33)
I know we’ve got about the normal time, which is a little bit long. But Kentucky, light your houses up green tonight, ring your bells at 10:00 AM tomorrow. Remember that we’re in it together and we will get through it together. I’m proud of you. I’m very proud of you. I’m very proud to be the governor of the Commonwealth of Kentucky.
Andy Beshear: (01:07:55)
And I believe that more than I ever have in the middle of a worldwide health pandemic, because the sacrifices that you are making are extraordinary. Not many generations are going to be able to say they passed a test of humanity, that they proved to the rest of the world and to history that they were truly good people.
Andy Beshear: (01:08:22)
And if we continue to do what we are doing right now, I believe we as a people will be remembered as truly kind and good people, willing to put each other first in a world that maybe up to this, people didn’t think about that as much or certainly didn’t think about us like that. Maybe this can be a pivotal turning point in our commonwealth or in our country and where we remember that we care about each other. And the divisions that have driven so much animosity aren’t all that big. And when it comes down to our lives and caring about each other, we are still all so fundamentally connected. And the rest of it all just melts away when we think about making sure that that person next to us is safe.
Andy Beshear: (01:09:14)
So, I’m going to leave you tonight with a little bit of an uplifting video. I believe this is the orchestra from KCD in Louisville. It’s going to give you a good send-out that hopefully reinvigorates you and gets you ready to defeat this coronavirus again tomorrow and the next day and the next day after that. See you at five o’clock tomorrow. I don’t think that worked.