Gov. Andy Beshear announced 134 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 and three new coronavirus related deaths on Easter Sunday, bringing Kentucky’s official totals to 1,963 cases and 97 deaths.
“We’re getting very close to that 2,000 mark, but here in Kentucky, we’re still not seeing the type of increases that we’re seeing in other states and we are very grateful for that,” Beshear said.
The people who died were a 72-year-old from Jefferson County, a 74-year-old from Hopkins County and a 62-year-old from Pike County.
Beshear announced a new partnership with Kroger to offer 20,000 drive-through COVID-19 tests over the next five weeks. Kroger will provide the medical staff and personal protective equipment for the tests, which will be self-administered by patients. The state is partnering with UPS and Gravity Diagnostics, which will process the tests, to ensure a 48-hour turnaround, Beshear said.
Up to 250 tests a day will be administered at a Frankfort location between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. from Monday to Thursday this week, according to Kroger officials. Beshear said he hopes to announce a second location this week and two more next week.
The tests are limited to health care workers, first responders, people who are older than 65 and people who have chronic health conditions. Patients must register at krogerhealth.com/covidtesting for the free test.
“I’m very excited about this,” Beshear said. “It’s good news on a day that declares the good news.”
Beshear said there are now 289 people hospitalized with the coronavirus in Kentucky, including 136 people currently hospitalized in the ICU. At least 607 people have recovered from the virus.
Black people continue to be disproportionately affected by the virus, according to a racial breakdown provided by Beshear. About 21.5 percent of the people who have died from the virus are black. Statewide, people who are black make up 8.4 percent of the population.
“That is not okay, that is not right and it shows that there are problems in our commonwealth that while they have existed for a long time, shouldn’t exist any more,” Beshear said.
Nursing home COVID-19 cases grow
A significant number of new cases continue to be reported in nursing homes. Beshear said Sunday that 19 more residents of nursing homes across the state and 11 more staff members have tested positive for the virus.
There are now 172 residents of long-term care facilities and 103 staff members with confirmed cases of COVID-19. There have been 25 deaths.
Several emerging hot-spots for the respiratory illness have centered around nursing homes in recent days. The number of cases has spiked in Adair County and Jackson County, where dozens of residents and staff from two nursing homes have tested positive. At Jackson Manor, a nursing home in Jackson County, 40 people have tested positive — 21 residents and 19 staff — according to Jackson County Judge-Executive Shane Gabbard.
Church flaunts Beshear’s order
The Democratic governor has come under fire from Republicans for an order that had Kentucky State Police troopers gathering the license plate information of people who showed up to a handful of in-person church services Sunday. That information will be provided to local health departments, which can order the attendees to self-quarantine for 14 days.
When Beshear was asked about a service at Maryville Baptist Church in Bullitt County, where someone scattered nails at parking lot entrances, according to the Courier-Journal, Beshear said he wanted to focus on the overwhelming majority of churchs that complied with his ban on all types of in-person gatherings. He said any church that met in person could have chosen to do a drive-in service instead.
Dr. Steven Stack, the public health commissioner, said more than 50 people have tested positive and at least six people have died as a result of one church revival in Hopkins County last month. He implored people to stop going to in-person gatherings of any kind. He noted there were license plates from New Jersey — a hot-spot for the virus where more people have died than Kentucky has had positive cases — in the Maryville Baptist parking lot.
“For those that continue to flaunt the things we are asking you to do,” Stack said, “it raises for me the question, at what point does our right to gather entitle us to have other people die as a direct result?”
Beshear said he doesn’t care about any potential negative political implications of his order.
“If I have to look back and say the decisions I made to save our lives to get through this impacted in some way my popularity negatively, then fine,” Beshear said. “Fine. Absolutely, fine. I’ve run out of other words.”
Herald-Leader reporter Bill Estep contributed to this article