Just days after dozens of protesters in the state demonstrated against social distancing guidelines and business closures due to the coronavirus pandemic, Kentucky announced its largest spike yet in COVID-19 cases.
Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear (D) announced in a press conference Sunday that 273 new cases of COVID-19 had emerged statewide, the highest single-day jump in cases announced so far.
According to the Kentucky Department of Health, the state has confirmed 2,960 cases of COVID-19 and 148 fatalities.
Beshear has determined that he will not reopen the state’s economic sectors or relax restrictions until no new cases have been reported for 14 days, or two weeks, in accordance with White House guidelines.
“We’re still in the midst of the fight,” Beshear said.
The sudden spike in cases comes after protests congregated in Frankfort last week against Beshear’s restrictions, disrupting an evening news conference.
The Lexington Herald-Leader noted that about 100 Kentuckians joined the protest, arguing that businesses needed to reopen after more than 500,000 Kentuckians filed for unemployment in March.
The Hill reports:
Local outlets report that at least 13 percent, or roughly 385, of COVID-19 cases have been recorded in nursing home residents. Beshear also told reporters Sunday that 33 additional residents have tested positive for the virus, as well as eight nursing home staffers.
Beshear noted that the state will need to increase testing and obtain more personal protective equipment (PPE) even if case numbers decline.
This follows news that Pastor Jack Roberts of the Maryville Baptist Church in Louisville filed a lawsuit against Beshear, claiming that enforcing a stay-at-home order on Easter violates the constitutional right to religious freedom. The church argued for Kentucky to allow in-person Christian services provided social distancing and hygienic rules are observed.