NewsState of the Commonwealth


Lexington Mayor & Council members discuss COVID response in virtual session

Posted at 11:46 PM, Apr 21, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-21 23:46:13-04

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — In a special meeting held via video conference, Lexington Mayor Linda Gorton and members of the Lexington Fayette Urban County Government discussed several topics, including the city’s response to the spread of COVID-19 and potential plans to reopen the city’s economy.

Without offering many specifics, Mayor Gorton said she has consulted stakeholders in the community to discuss how to safely reopen, but she and her staff made it clear we are not yet at that point.

Lexington has not reported a death due to Coronavirus in nearly two weeks, and lately, the number of new daily cases in the city has hovered around the low single digits.

That may sound like encouraging news, but health and government officials are operating under a sense of cautious optimism.

Citing one of the seven benchmarks Governor Andy Beshear unveiled last week, Mayor Gorton’s chief of staff said testing is still lacking.

“We’ve got to, essentially, be able to triple the amount of testing we do in a given day to be able to quickly identify anyone who’s positive,” Tyler Scott said.

When it was his turn to speak, James Brown, a council member who represents Council District 1, turned his attention to a disturbing trend across the country: the alarming rate of infections in communities of color.

“I continue to hear concerns about how the African American community is being disproportionately affected by the virus,” Brown said.

African Americans make up 15 percent of Lexington’s population, but they account for 30 percent of the city’s confirmed Coronavirus cases.

Hispanics or LatinX make up seven percent of the city’s population, but six percent of the city’s Coronavirus cases.

Gorton said Laura Hatfield, the director of One Lexington, has been meeting with African American pastors to discuss these concerns.

The mayor did not announce any concrete steps the city could take regarding the racial disparities, but she said she expects Governor Beshear to make an announcement tomorrow on testing that will have “important information” addressing these concerns.