Gov. Andy Beshear on Tuesday set out state guidelines for having a safe Memorial Day weekend while continuing to fight COVID-19.
“Just because we are healthy at home and healthy at work doesn’t mean we can’t be out there to be healthy physically,” the governor said. “The healthier we get, the more resilient we will be if we ever see anything else like this in our lifetime.”
Keeping safe while celebrating together is crucial as we enter the traditional start of the summer season. Beshear and state health officials are asking all Kentuckians to keep gatherings to 10 or fewer people.
“Our actions have direct implications on the health and safety of others,” said Department for Public Health Commissioner Dr. Steven Stack. “This weekend is the first time in Kentucky that we are going to permit over the last two months or so gatherings of up to 10 people. In order to do this safely and minimize the risk of infection being spread and to keep people safe, we have to do this right.”
Other guidance includes maintaining social distance of at least six feet, wearing masks, gathering outside instead of inside, washing hands frequently and covering food and individually wrapping plates.
Beshear spoke about the next steps and latest guidance for businesses as Kentucky makes a gradual and sustainable reopening of the economy.
“I trust in you, and you have done so well thus far that I believe we can do this safely, but it has to be done differently," Beshear added. "Let’s make sure that again Kentucky can do this just as well as anyone else.”
The Healthy at Work website now includes guidance for barbershops, cosmetology, hair salons, tanning salons and tattoo parlors. Beshear said the state also will be expanding June 1 reopening guidance to include aquatic centers (excluding public pools), fishing tournaments and auto/dirt track racing.
June 8 marks the projected return for museums, outdoor attractions, aquariums, libraries and distilleries. Further out, June 11 will bring back the Kentucky Horse Park, Kentucky State Park campgrounds and Otter Creek; and on June 15 some child care and limited-contact youth sports will be allowed.
Beshear said there were at least 8,069 coronavirus cases in Kentucky, 164 of which were newly confirmed Tuesday.
Unfortunately, Gov. Beshear also reported 20 new deaths Tuesday, raising the total to 366 Kentuckians lost to the virus.
“Today we have lost more people to the coronavirus than any other day before,” the governor said. “While I believe that we can reopen safely and do it gradually, let’s remember that this thing is still deadly and it is still taking people we love and care about.”
At least 2,826 Kentuckians have recovered from the virus.
At least four young Kentuckians have been treated for Pediatric Multisymptom Inflammatory Syndrome (PMIS), a rare syndrome that is causing serious health problems for some young people.
The Department for Public Health issued a PMIS advisory, which provides guidance, key points about the syndrome, possible symptoms and reporting directions. The Kentucky Pediatric COVID-19 Hotline (800-722-5725) is staffed by Norton Children’s Hospital and prepared to answer questions from parents and clinicians about PMIS.
Walmart is greatly expanding its testing operations in the state.
In addition to Louisville and Bardstown locations, which are currently operating, new testing sites will open Friday, May 22, in Ashland, Bowling Green, Leitchfield, London, Paducah, Pikeville and Richmond.
The Governor previously said that in partnership with Kroger, new testing locations would open in Richmond, Mayfield, Louisville and Hartford this week. Information on how to register at more than 70 sites throughout the commonwealth can be found at kycovid19.ky.gov.
Stack said coronavirus testing was being conducted this week at 23 long-term care facilities.
So far, more than 4,300 tests have been conducted, including 2,324 staff members and 2,003 residents. Officials plan to conduct another 2,100 tests over the next two days.