Kentucky witnessed its highest daily spike in coronavirus cases Sunday, just days after hundreds of protesters gathered outside the state capitol building to call for Gov. Andy Beshear to end a statewide lockdown.
Beshear has vowed to leave the restrictions in place until the state sees a downward trajectory of reported coronavirus cases for at least 14 days.
The Democrat governor said Kentucky recorded 273 new cases by Sunday, the largest 24-hour increase in infections since the onset of the outbreak. Cases spiked by less than half that amount by Monday, with just 102 new infections recorded overnight, WYMT-TV in Hazard, Ky., reported.
Kentucky recorded a total of at least 3,050 confirmed coronavirus cases, with at least 154 deaths, according to the state department of health figures last updated Monday evening.
At least 13 percent of the total cases in the state have been recorded in nursing home residents, Beshear said Sunday, announcing that an additional 33 residents and eight staff members had tested positive and, therefore, were included in the recording-breaking uptick in infections, The Hill reported.
Holding signs denouncing “King Beshear,” more than 100 protesters gathered on the lawn outside the capitol building in Frankfort Wednesday evening and began shouting through megaphones just as the governor was about to begin his 5 p.m. daily COVID-19 press briefing inside, the Lexington-Herald Leader reported.
Though protest organizers asked participants to remain six feet apart, most demonstrators eventually bunched together outside on the lawn, shouting for the governor to “Open up Kentucky,” according to the newspaper. Some – but not all – protesters wore face masks.
Within the past month, more than 500,000 Kentuckians have filed for unemployment. On Thursday, governors from Illinois, Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Kentucky formed a Midwest Alliance to work together in a phased approach to reopen commerce if there is strong testing and a decrease in cases.
The same group returned Friday, but barricades blocked off the lawn. Instead, a group of between 30 and 40 cars, trucks and SUVs circled the driveway looping around the Capitol building, blaring their horns, waving American flags and displaying signs calling for the lockdown to subside, WLKY in Lousiville, Ky., reported.
One sign said, “Our rights don’t end where your fear begins.” Another read, “It’s About Liberty.”