A frustrated Gov. Andy Beshear on Tuesday called out a “coronavirus party” that he said resulted in at least one person getting the virus, then ordered more business shutdowns to try to stem the pandemic’s spread.
Beshear said all “non-life-sustaining” businesses must close to in-person traffic by Thursday evening. Exactly which businesses will be affected wasn’t immediately clear.
Groceries, pharmacies, gas stations and other essential businesses will remain open, he said.
His announcement came as a visibly irritated Beshear berated some Kentuckians for failing to follow social distancing practices intended to slow the spread of coronavirus.
He called out a “coronavirus party” attended by 20-year-olds that ultimately resulted in one person testing positive for COVID-19, saying they were “flaunting the mass-gathering prohibition.”
“Anyone who goes to something like this may think that they are indestructible,” Beshear said at his afternoon briefing. “But it’s someone else’s loved one that they are going to hurt.”
The “coronavirus party” case was among 39 new positive tests reported Tuesday, raising Kentucky’s overall confirmed reports to 163. It was the largest single-day increase since Kentucky confirmed its first case March 6.
There are 3 cases in Christian County, 2 in Muhlenberg and 1 in Lyon County. No cases have been announced in Caldwell or Hopkins counties.
Four people have died; one each in Anderson, Bourbon, Fayette and Jefferson counties.
“We are battling for the health and even the lives of our parents and our grandparents,” Beshear said, calling for an immediate end to such gatherings. “Don’t be so callous as to intentionally go to something and expose yourself to something that can kill other people. We ought to be much better than that.”
Beshear also announced that four of Kentucky’s confirmed COVID-19 cases are front-line health providers, including doctors and nurses, adding that Kentucky faces a “critical shortage” of the personal protective equipment, also called PPE, that is used by health care workers.
Not only is Kentucky bidding against other states for scarce medical supplies, but the Federal Emergency Management Agency is also a competitor, Beshear said.
“The other day FEMA came and bought out from under us,” he said.
Other updates Beshear announced:
Beginning Wednesday, Beshear’s evening press conferences started with age-appropriate presentations. Wednesday’s presentation was targeted for preschool students, he said.
Also beginning Wednesday, Beshear dispatched state workers to understaffed food banks across the state to help sort and deliver food donations.
The state is working with both the food service and bourbon industries to produce mass batches of sanitizer for hospitals and first responders, Beshear said.