Gov. Andy Beshear announced 322 new cases of coronavirus in Kentucky Friday, the largest daily increase so far. Beshear said the increase is partly due to the state’s efforts to expand testing and that he still believes Kentucky is in the “plateau” of the pandemic.
There are 3,779 confirmed coronavirus cases in Kentucky as of Friday evening. Beshear reported nine new deaths associated with the illness, for a total of 200.
The governor said the uptick in cases shows that Kentuckians need to keep practicing social distancing guidelines.
“We’ve got to stay at it, we’ve got to stay strong. This is a reminder, or even a wake up, of what we’re dealing with,” Beshear said.
Nursing homes have been hit especially hard by the pandemic, with 578 residents and 268 staff testing positive for coronavirus. There have been 91 coronavirus deaths in Kentucky long-term facilities.
Beshear also announced that an additional 352 state prisoners convicted of non-violent, non-sexual crimes near the end of their sentences have been released from state custody. Beshear said all of the prisoners had five years or fewer remaining on their punishments and that 339 of them were state inmates serving out their punishments in local jails.
Beshear said it might be possible that some coronavirus restrictions will be lifted by Memorial Day on May 25, but that Kentuckians need to be prepared to still engage in social distancing and wear masks in public.
“At best we’ll be dealing with a new normal,” Beshear said. “We’ll be able to do many more things, but the way we do them is dramatically changed. I think it’s really important for people to know we will reach something akin to an old normal once we have a vaccine or a very effective treatment.”
Beshear is making it clear this is a marathon, not a sprint. It's going to be months before we're out of this pandemic, and then years before we can emerge from the economic carnage. Just about everything will be different in America. 3800 cases and 200 deaths is bad, but Kentucky as an entire state is actually in better shape than neighboring Indiana, where Indianapolis/Marion County by itself has 4250 cases and 217 deaths alone.
The good news is that Kentucky isn't going to repeat the mistakes of Ohio and Michigan. All Kentuckians will be able to request a mail-in ballot for the June primaries, GOP Secretary of State Michael Adams is fully backing Beshear on this. Adams is still a Republican, but it seems that with the state in no danger of failing to vote for Trump and 99% certain to vote for McConnell, it's not a fight that the KY GOP figures it has to have now.
Besides, the real fight is going to be the coming massive austerity cuts to the state budget, and it won't be much of a fight with state veto override provisions in the constitution only requiring 50% +1 in the General Assembly and Senate to override anything Beshear does, tying Beshear's hands completely and the KY GOP easily has those numbers, even without the conservative Democrats in rural parts of the state.
It won't be much of a fight. The cuts Bevin wanted but the KY GOP didn't want to be blamed for will happen thanks to COVID-19 and while Republicans are largely content with their ongoing failed attempts trying to close the state's last abortion clinic, the goal is to pin all of the state's economic woes on Beshear himself.
This era of "cooperation" will not last, I guarantee you that.