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Beshear: Nonessential Retail Stores to Close; Pickup, Delivery Allowed

In his daily briefing on the coronavirus/COVID-19, Governor Andy Beshear announced the latest societal restrictions: non-essential retail businesses are to close at 8 p.m. on Monday.

The governor emphasized that the order allows for these retail establishments to serve customers with curbside pickup or delivery. Customers will not be allowed to enter stores.

The order does not apply to grocery stores, drug stores, or gas stations, Beshear said, while also adding that auto repair, auto parts, and hardware stores will be allowed to remain open.

Entertainment, sporting goods, clothing, jewelry, florists, and book stores, as well as auto dealers are to close at 8 p.m. Monday.

Banks were not impacted by the governor's order as they are not considered to be retail. They will remain open.

Beshear also announced that all elective surgeries are to stop so that hospitals can accommodate any surge in coronavirus patients.

The respiratory virus is a global pandemic, with more 335,000 worldwide testing as positive since late last year. 

More than 14,000 people have died.

Schools and many businesses have already shut down in Kentucky and other states, while restaurants have been restricted to delivery and pick-up since last week. The practice of "social distancing", trying to have at least six feet of space between people, is now part of the daily lexicon here as people follow health officials' guidelines as a practice to slow the spread of the contagious virus.

Beshear said that Kentucky now has 103 confirmed cases, including one in Northern Kentucky among today's confirmations, with an additional four in the state from unannounced locations. The governor did not specify which part of Northern Kentucky the case is from. Kenton County has four confirmed cases as of Saturday.

Kentucky's junior U.S. Senator, Rand Paul, also tested positive for the virus on Sunday, his office announced.

Beshear, a Democrat, was asked his feelings on the Republican Paul's diagnosis. "I wish him the best and his family the best," Beshear said. "I would just want to make sure with him having to self-isolate, hopefully they are staying in communication and we hope that he and everybody else gets through this in the best place possible."

The governor gently acknowledged Paul's opposition to a reported $8 billion emergency funding bill to fight coronavirus. In fact, he was the only senator to vote against it.

"There's just America versus the coronavirus," Beshear said. "And even with his vote that seemed to place limitations on this aid, we still want him to be healthy. He is a human being and we're all in this together."

Beshear's calm demeanor during these daily 5 p.m. briefings that have gone on for weeks, has become the focus of a Facebook group dedicated to creating memes inspired by the governor's actions, called "andy beshear memes for social distancing teens". Many of the memes portray Beshear as a protective dad or boyfriend, keeping Kentucky away from the coronavirus. Some compare him favorably to TV's Mr. Rogers. Even the staffer in control of the graphics during the live streams, and the sign language interpreter who joins Beshear on camera, are part of the fun.

The group has 46,000 members - and the participants vary in age, it's not just teens.

"If it makes people smile right now, I'm for it. We're living in a different time certainly. If that's out there, I'm just glad we can come together every day at five to make sure we stay calm, because we're facing come that we have never seen," Beshear said.

He returned to his comforting message that inspired the group.

"I know all of your are making sacrifices. I know that my job - while I enjoy those (memes) - is really serious. It's about making sure I do everything I can... ...I hope one day we can look back on this day and say we were really aggressive.

"That's because we care. I want to make sure we take every step to protect those around us. We're going to get there by being the really good people that we are."

The governor said that he was glad there were no further deaths in the state to announce, after the three confirmed deaths earlier reported. 

"Why we're doing this is to protect everyone out there, so hopefully we don't have to make those announcements too often."

Written by Michael Monks, editor & publisher

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