Kentucky reports 20 additional coronavirus-related deaths

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Gov. Andy Beshear on Tuesday announced 20 more Kentucky deaths related to the coronavirus outbreak, the state’s largest single-day total since the global pandemic began.

The higher death count was based in part on the timing of some reports, the governor said at his daily briefing. But he called it a “tough day” even as the state reaches more milestones this week in gradually reopening its virus-battered economy.

“While I believe that we can reopen and reopen safely if we do it gradually, let’s remember that this thing is still deadly and it’s still taking people we love and care about,” Beshear said. “And 20 is a hard number. It’s a tough number.”

The ages of those whose deaths were reported Tuesday ranged from 60 to 93, he said.

The 20 additional deaths raised the state’s death count to at least 366 since the pandemic began.

Seven of the latest deaths were residents of long-term care facilities, Beshear said.

Kentucky plans to conduct coronavirus tests at all nursing homes statewide in a targeted strategy aimed at a segment of the population especially hard hit by the virus. Beshear on Tuesday called that “one of the best efforts in the country” to protect people at those facilities.

Beshear also reported 164 more coronavirus cases in Kentucky, raising the statewide total to more than 8,060 cases. More than 2,820 people in Kentucky have recovered from the virus.

For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up within weeks. For some, especially older adults and those with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, even death.

Meanwhile, Beshear announced that museums, outdoor attractions, libraries, aquariums and distilleries in Kentucky will be able to reopen starting June 8. Those attractions are expected to adhere to health guidelines.

The state’s plans to reboot the economy will reach another milestone Wednesday when non-essential retail businesses are allowed to reopen. Social distancing guidelines include limiting the number of customers to 33% of a shop’s maximum allowed occupancy.

On Friday, restaurants can reopen dining rooms at 33% capacity. Restaurants also can offer outdoor seating while meeting spacing guidelines. That same day, people can resuming gathering in groups of 10 or fewer but need to follow guidance to help contain the outbreak.

“This is going to be a lot of additional activity,” Beshear said. “And we’ve just got to make sure that we do it safely. But I trust in you. …. You have done so well thus far that I believe that we can do this safely. But it’s got to be differently.”

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