Editor’s note: With our coronavirus coverage, our goal is not to alarm you but to equip you with the information you need. We will try to keep things in context and focus on helping you make decisions. See a list of resources and frequently asked questions at the end of this story.
FRANKFORT, Ky. — Gov. Andy Beshear on Monday announced plans to postpone Kentucky’s primary election until mid-summer and close all of his state’s daycares by the end of the week.
Instead of voting May 19, Kentuckians will cast their ballots June 23 — a date by which the government hopes the coronavirus pandemic will have subsided.
Unlike Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, whose plans to delay his state’s primary require a lawsuit and a judge’s approval, Beshear’s administration can postpone the election unilaterally at the behest of the governor and Secretary of State Michael Adams.
“My hope is that this delay will allow us to have a normal election,” Adams said in an announcement posted to his Twitter account. “Even if not, this delay will allow me, the state board of elections and our county clerks time to assess what changes we must make to ensure a successful primary elections.”
More changes could be on the way, he acknowledged. The delay buys time to figure out what they’ll be.
Beshear also announced that the state will:
- Grant a three-month extension on all expiring driver’s licenses.
- Close government offices to the public by 5 p.m. Tuesday. All public interactions with the government should take place online afterward.
- Apply for a Small Business Association Economic Injury Disaster loan, which would provide financial support for businesses damaged by the pandemic.
He appealed to Kentuckians to remain positive and take time for stress relief while they continue to practice social distancing.
“What we are dealing with is serious,” he said. “It shouldn’t scare you, but it should give you a commitment to make sure we’re following the guidelines we have to follow to make sure your parents and grandparents get through this.”
Find more coronavirus/COVID-19 hotlines and resources below:
- Department of Health COVID-19 hotline: 833-4-ASK-ODH
- See ODH’s COVID-19 resources here.
- State COVID-19 hotline: 1-800-722-5725
- See the Cabinet for Health and Family Services coronavirus resource site here.
- SDH Epidemiology Resource Center: (317) 233-7125 or (317) 233-1325 after hours, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
- See more information for coronavirus in Indiana here.
What is coronavirus, COVID-19?
According to the World Health Organization, coronaviruses are "a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV).
A novel coronavirus, such as COVID-19, is a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans.
COVID-19 was first identified in December 2019 in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China and has now been detected in 37 locations across the globe, including in the U.S., according to the CDC.
The CDC reports the initial patients in China have some link to a large seafood and live animal market, indicative of animal-to-person spread. A growing number of patients, however, did not report exposure to animal markets, indicating the disease is spreading person-to-person.
What are the symptoms? How does it spread?
Confirmed cases of COVID-19 have ranged from mild symptoms to severe illness and death, according to the CDC. Symptoms can include fever, cough, shortness of breath.
The CDC said symptoms could appear in as few as two days or as long as 14 days after exposure. It is similar to the incubation period for MERS.
Spread of the virus is thought to be mainly from person-to-person. Spread is between people who are in close contact with one another (within about six feet). Spread occurs via respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. The droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.
According to the CDC, it could be possible for a person to get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose or possibly their eyes. This is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads, the CDC said.
The disease is most contagious when people are the sickest and showing the most symptoms, but it can be spread even at asymptomatic stages.