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Ky. governor addresses COVID-19 cases, recent protests in Louisville

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Posted at 4:13 PM, May 29, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-29 19:51:29-04

FRANKFORT, Ky. — At his coronavirus press conference Friday, Gov. Andy Beshear addressed recent protests in Louisville regarding the shooting death of Breonna Taylor, a Louisville EMT shot and killed by police in her home.

Police killed Taylor, 26, after serving a "no-knock warrant" to the wrong apartment on March 13. Thinking the officers were intruders, Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, allegedly shot at police.

Beshear read a statement Friday from Taylor's mother denouncing recent demonstrations that became violent.

"The last thing she'd want to see is more violence," the statement read. "Changes are being made, but it's not enough. We will not stop until there is truth, justice and accountability. Breonna's legacy will not be forgotten, and it's because of all of us saying her name and demanding justice."

MORE: 7 protesters shot in Kentucky amid protests for George Floyd and Breonna Taylor

Beshear, himself a Louisville resident for 15 years, said he can't "pretend to understand the level of frustration, fatigue that people must feel with hundreds of years of inequality."

“Commitments have been made before and haven’t been followed through. Now ought to be the time," he said.

State sees 14-day decline in cases

Kentucky virus-related deaths have hit 418 since the pandemic began as Beshear announced nine people, including two people from Gallatin County, died Friday.

The state reports 9,464 total positive COVID-19 cases statewide. More than 3,100 people have recovered from the coronavirus with more than 227,000 people tested so far.

NKY Health reports that 1,219 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 616 Northern Kentuckians have recovered.

In Kentucky's long-term care facilities, 242 residents and two staff members have reportedly died of the virus. As of Friday, 1,285 residents and 600 staff members had contracted the virus. Kentucky has already begun extensive testing in these facilities.

“We are committed to get every last person tested,” Cabinet of Health and Family Services Sec. Eric Friedlander said.

After new coronavirus case numbers in Kentucky plateaued for 35 days, Beshear said the state has now seen a 14-day decline in cases Thursday.

“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.

For a complete list of free coronavirus testing sites in Kentucky, click here.

MORE: KY’s increased capacity to test for COVID-19 could serve as a model for other states

AG asks why April UI glitch wasn't disclosed until May

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.

But Attorney General Daniel Cameron called for the Beshear administration to release the reason why Kentuckians weren't notified of the breach sooner.

“The Beshear Administration’s lack of transparency and failure to promptly notify Kentuckians and our office of the breach suggest carelessness and a disregard for the importance of protecting the personal and financial information of our citizens," Cameron said in a news release Friday.

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. He said Friday he was "not happy" about the way the incident was handled, and has appointed an inspector general to investigate why it wasn't disclosed to the public sooner.

"That doesn't mean that we don't need to be transparent and don't need to disclose things and don't need to be timely," Beshear said Friday.

Getting driver's license by mail

In a new order Friday, Beshear authorized local court clerks to issue new driver's licenses remotely.

That means Kentuckians will soon be able to apply to receive new licenses in the mail through July 31.

Expiration dates for licenses were extended by 90 days on March 18 due to coronavirus shutting down local court clerk offices. More details will soon be available online, Beshear said.

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.

See WCPO's timeline for the full list of event reopenings in Kentucky and around the Tri-State.

Requesting 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 mail back or return to local elections boards can visit GoVoteKy.com. You can check your voter status and update your information at Elect.Ky.Gov. Both sites are mobile-friendly.

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.

MORE: Kentucky gets in line with mail-in voting

Watch a replay of the briefing in the player below: