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Beshear reports 5th virus-related death in Kentucky

March 25, 2020 GMT
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Mike Phillips, left, and Matt Higdon affix a sign to the outside of the Greenwell Chisholm Printing Company building depicting statistics of the effects of social distancing on curbing the spread the the COVID-19 virus, Monday, Mar. 23, 2020, in Owensboro, Ky. (Greg Eans/The Messenger-Inquirer via AP)
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Mike Phillips, left, and Matt Higdon affix a sign to the outside of the Greenwell Chisholm Printing Company building depicting statistics of the effects of social distancing on curbing the spread the the COVID-19 virus, Monday, Mar. 23, 2020, in Owensboro, Ky. (Greg Eans/The Messenger-Inquirer via AP)

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Gov. Andy Beshear reported the fifth Kentucky death linked to coronavirus Wednesday as total statewide cases during the pandemic approached 200 despite a slight drop in the number of new cases from the previous day.

The governor reported 35 new cases in Kentucky, compared to 39 cases on Tuesday — which was the single biggest one-day increase in the state.

“We’re probably one of the only states right now that has been able to give a report where we have had a day that is less than the day before,” Beshear said at his daily briefing. “But we expect there to be new cases each and every day.”

The latest Kentucky death linked to the virus was a 75-year-old man from Jefferson County, the governor said. The man had “other factors” that contributed to his death, Beshear said.

One of the state’s newest coronavirus patients was someone who contracted the illness while on spring break in Florida, Beshear said. That reinforces the importance of avoiding beaches or other popular spring break gathering spots that can be hotbeds for spreading the virus, he said.

“Don’t go on spring break,” the governor said. “You’re going to put your health and the health of your family and the health of those around you at risk.”

Anyone who went on spring break should go into self-isolation for two weeks as a safeguard to help contain the virus’ spread, said Dr. Steven Stack, the state’s public health commissioner.

Beshear said next week the state could have its first facility for drive-thru testing for “very specific individuals who are showing symptoms.” Other states have been able to ramp up testing with drive-thru sites. Beshear said the single-location facility would be a prototype to see if it can be expanded. He said more specifics on the testing site would be announced Thursday.

For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death. The vast majority of people recover.

Meanwhile, Beshear issued an executive order on Wednesday outlining which Kentucky businesses are considered “life sustaining” and allowed to stay open amid the coronavirus pandemic.

His order suspended evictions as Kentucky residents deal with economic damage inflicted by the virus. Beshear also suspended in-person government activities at the state, county and local levels that aren’t necessary to “sustain or protect life” or support life-sustaining businesses.

Under his order, businesses not deemed life-sustaining were ordered to cease operations Thursday evening, except as needed to “conduct minimum basic operations.”

The governor’s order spelled out which businesses can stay open.

Among businesses allowed to stay open include: grocery stores, drug stores, banks, hardware stores, agricultural operations, gas stations, media, businesses needed for transportation, logistics, shipping, delivery and pick-up, housing, building and construction, laundry, home-based care and services, professional services and hotels.

His prior orders remain in effect, including actions halting bar and restaurant in-person visits, though drive-thru, takeout and delivery can continue.

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Follow AP coverage of the virus outbreak at https://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak.