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COVID: No Fans at Derby; 785 New Cases in Ky.; 34 in NKY

Churchill Downs announced Friday that there will be no spectators at the Kentucky Derby next month, and Governor Andy Beshear reported another high number of positive COVID-19 cases.

The Kentucky Derby's 146th running was moved from its annual appearance on the first Saturday in May due to concerns over and the limitations caused by the public response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The world's most famous horse race was moved to September 5th, and this year will be the second leg of the famed Triple Crown instead of the first.

The Belmont Stakes, traditionally the third leg, was run in June without spectators in New York. The Preakness, traditionally the second leg of the Triple Crown, will go third, on October 3.

"With the current significant increases in COVID19 cases in Louisville as well as across the region, we needed to again revisit our planning," Churchill Downs said in a statement on Friday. "We have made the difficult decision to hold this year’s Kentucky Derby on September 5 without fans. Churchill Downs and all of our team members feel strongly that it is our collective responsibility as citizens of Louisville to do all we responsibly can to protect the health, safety and security of our community in these challenging times and believe that running the Derby without spectators is the best way to do that.

"We deeply regret the disappointment this will bring to our loyal fans."

Meanwhile, Beshear reported 785 newly confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Kentucky, bringing the state's total to 42,265 since the pandemic began.

“We have stopped the exponential growth and escalation of this virus, but we still have to fight every day, wear masks and stay six feet apart so we can get this thing on the decline and open more things safely,” Beshear said.

Beshear noted that 17 of the new cases on Friday involved children aged five and under, and that 97 involved children under the age of 18.

“We’ve got to protect all of our children,” he said.

34 of the new cases were reported in the four-county region covered by the Northern Kentucky Health Department.

The state also saw eight additional COVID-related deaths reported, bringing the state's total to 864.

“It’s going to be a hard month. Let’s make sure we don’t do things that are going to spread this virus because ultimately, they do take a real human toll,” said Beshear.

As of Friday, there have been at least 803,198 coronavirus tests performed in Kentucky. The positivity rate currently stands at 5.18%, unchanged from yesterday. At least 9,448 Kentuckians have recovered from the virus.

-Staff report