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'If We Don't Need It, Hallelujah': Louisville Fairgounds To Become Field Hospital

AP Photo/Elaine Thompson

The Louisville fairgrounds will be converted into a field hospital in the coming days, as Kentucky braces for a surge of new COVID-19 patients.

Governor Andy Beshear says the state is keeping close watch on developments in New York and other states and he wants the commonwealth to stay ahead of the outbreak, in part, by transforming the fairgrounds into a 2,000-bed makeshift hospital.

"I want to have it ready before we need one of those single beds," he said Thursday. "And if we don't need it, hallelujah."

As for Lexington, Beshear said the state is working on converting a hotel into hospital rooms.

The governor made a series of announcements Thursday: formally keeping schools closed to in-person classes until at least May 1; barring overnight stays at campgrounds; and unveiling the first phase of plans to release up to 929 prisoners, some of whom are at increased risk of contracting the virus and others who are within six months of completing their sentence.

"This is lightening the load on our corrections system, at the same time protecting some of the most vulnerable individuals who are in the corrections system," Justice Cabinet Secretary J. Michael Brown elaborated.

In his daily update, the governor reported 100 new cases and 11 deaths, including the first potential fatality in a patient without known underlying health conditions.

Other news:

  • The governor put out an urgent call for gloves, as well as any other personal protective equipment residents may have to donate. Donations should be made at 1 (502) 607-6844.
  • The total number of COVID-19 cases reported on Wednesday was revised down to 670, due to duplications and some individuals living outside the state.
  • Over 60 Kentucky patients have recovered, though the state is just beginning to formally track that number.
  • On facial coverings: The Beshear administration is awaiting guidance from the CDC. If state health officials do move toward a recommendation to wear face coverings in public, the governor cautioned that all available professional grade masks and respirators should go to health workers and first responders.
  • If the General Assembly does not confirm beshear's revamped state board of education by the end of the 2020 regular session, the governor is pledging to appoint new members.
  • Beshear says mail-in voting for the upcoming primary election is a "real possibility" if the state is still similar COVID-19 case numbers.
Josh James fell in love with college radio at Western Kentucky University's student station, New Rock 92 (now Revolution 91.7). After working as a DJ and program director, he knew he wanted to come home to Lexington and try his hand in public radio.
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