FRANKFORT, Ky. — After new coronavirus case numbers in Kentucky plateaued for 35 days, Gov. Andy Beshear said the state has now seen a 14-day decline in cases.
“Where we were going was so much scarier than where we’ve been, and thank goodness that people were willing to do the right thing at the right time,” Beshear said at his daily briefing Thursday.
Beshear acknowledged the sacrifices Kentuckians have made through the pandemic to "flatten the curve," and says he is optimistic that Kentucky's economy will quickly be able to recover because of steps taken through Healthy at Work and Healthy at Home.
“We have to realize this was never just a flu, and the steps that we took, the pain we’ve gone through, every sacrifice we made -- it was not only necessary, but we still had significant and profound loss.”
Kentucky virus-related deaths have hit 409 since the pandemic began as Beshear announced nine people, including six people from Northern Kentucky, died Thursday.
The state reports 9,184 total positive COVID-19 cases statewide. More than 3,100 people have recovered from coronavirus with more than 220,000 people tested so far.
NKY Health reports that 1,183 people have contracted COVID-19 in Boone, Campbell, Grant and Kenton counties so far, including 65 people who have reportedly died of the virus. Health officials say 592 Northern Kentuckians have recovered.
In Kentucky's long term care facilities, 227 residents and two staff members have reportedly died of the virus. As of Wednesday, 1,208 residents and 573 staff members had contracted the virus. Kentucky has begun extensive testing in these facilities.
For a complete list of free coronavirus testing sites in Kentucky, click here.
During his press briefing Wednesday, Beshear and Kentucky Public Health Director Dr. Steven Stack urged Kentuckians to wear masks in public in order to prevent the spread of coronavirus, even if you're not showing virus symptoms.
“Knowing I could be asymptomatic and pass it -- it’s a very small thing," Beshear said of wearing a face mask around others.
Both leaders said that wearing a mask should not be a matter of politics but one of public safety and respect for others.
"Let's celebrate those more positive things we do ... and not devolve to criticizing others for trying to do what they believe is necessary to keep themselves and the ones they love safe," Stack said.
Unemployment portal glitch reported in April
Deputy Sec. Josh Benton announced that a "potential vulnerability" in the online unemployment insurance portal could have briefly exposed some users' information, though there have been no reports of identity theft or financial harm to date.
The vulnerability, reported at 9:17 a.m. on April 23, could have exposed some unemployment insurance claimants' identity verification documents. The portal was taken offline by 11:30 a.m., with a permanent patch in place by midnight.
Beshear said anyone affected by the breach would be notified by mail.
Deputy Secretary Josh Benton said, “Nothing is more important than keeping Kentuckians safe during the COVID-19 crisis. That includes keeping their information safe.”
What's reopening in Kentucky?
Beshear set a tentative date for public pools to reopen on June 29 but said the state is still working on guidance to do so safely. Cities and municipalities will be able to decide if pools will reopen. Covington, for instance, announced in April that it would not open public pools this summer due to budget restrictions. Aquatic centers with lap pools will be able to reopen June 1.
Starting Monday, June 1, movie theaters, bowling alleys, golf courses and fitness centers can reopen. State parks, including lodges and cabins, reopen Monday.
On Wednesday, health care providers that perform inpatient surgeries and other procedures were no longer required to limit themselves to 50% of pre-shutdown volume. Instead, each facility can now determine the number of patients it can safely treat.
Kentucky allowed barbers, hair salons, cosmetologists, nail salons, acupuncturists, massage therapists, tanning salons and tattoo parlors to reopen Monday.
See WCPO's timeline for the full list of event reopenings in Kentucky and around the Tri-State.
How to request mail-in primary ballots
Sec. of State Michael Adams unveiled a new web portal Friday where Kentuckians can check their voter registration status and request absentee ballots for the primary elections.
There are four ways to vote in Kentucky: in-person on Election Day, June 23; in-person early voting before June 8; absentee by mail; and absentee ballots returned to your local elections board before Election Day.
Since the state is "not able" to mail ballots to everyone automatically, Sec. of State Michael Adams said those who want an absentee ballot to either mail back or return to local elections boards can visit GoVoteKy.com.
“It makes it easy to vote, and it makes it hard to cheat,” Adams said.
You can check your voter status and update your information at Elect.Ky.Gov. Both sites are mobile-friendly, Adams said.
The deadline to register to vote in Kentucky's 2020 primary was Tuesday, and the deadline to request a primary absentee ballot is June 15.
Watch a replay of Thursday's briefing in the player below: