Gov. Beshear announces 1st Ky. coronavirus death; plans to close bars, restaurants

Victim was 66-year-old man from Bourbon County
Posted at 9:08 AM, Mar 16, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-16 14:24:26-04

FRANKFORT, Ky. (LEX 18) — Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear announced the state's first COVID-19 related death on Monday morning.

"Today, we're reporting that we lost the individual that we knew was in bad shape," said Beshear. "They are the Bourbon County resident. They have passed away. I want to give my sympathies to that family and I hope everyone out there is praying for them."

Beshear says the person is a 66-year-old man. While other factors also played a role in the death, Beshear says this is being consider the state's first coronavirus-related death.

"While the coronavirus wasn't the only cause, it was a contributing factor," said Beshear. "And it just reminds us that while we've got to remain calm and we're going to get through this, it is serious and it truly impacts people. So think about the ramifications as an individual if you're not following this guidance."

The guidance he's referencing includes social distancing. Beshear has been telling all Kentuckians to keep their distance and avoid crowds and gatherings to try to slow the spread the virus.

Beshear also said he will issue an order to close restaurants and bars to in-person traffic.

"I'm going to put out the order today to close all restaurants and bars to in-person traffic," said Beshear. "We are going to have exceptions in there for drive-through, for delivery - but we are to the point now where this is a step we have to take."

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Beshear says he understands this will burden local businesses, so he says the state will help.

"We're going to do everything we can to help with the financial impact," said Beshear. "It's not lost on me that most of these are small businesses - and there are those who are watching who have spent sweat equity and maybe even your life savings to open that business. We're going to do everything we can to be there for you. I want you to know that I realize the impact that it's going to have, but we have to take the steps to make sure we are protecting our people and this is a necessary one."

Beshear says Kentucky will also waive the waiting period for unemployment so people who lose their jobs because of this virus can get help. Work search requirements to get unemployment will also be waived.

"We know that the steps we're taking are going to cause people to lose their jobs," said Beshear. "We want you to be able to qualify for unemployment and we don't want to create impediments that keep you from being able to get through this."

The governor also stressed the importance of everyone doing their part to stop the new coronavirus from spreading through local communities.

"We are going to make it through. I need everybody to remain calm - for you, for your neighbors - but I need you to follow this advice," said Beshear. "Let's protect the most vulnerable out there."