About 63 staff members also tested positive and 52 have since recovered. Eleven of those cases are still active, Beshear said.
‘I hope … we can do better by them’
The Kentucky veterans center was able to avoid an outbreak for months, screening employees and veterans daily since March and conducting immediate testing for anyone who was showing symptoms.
But amid a Covid-19 resurgence across American communities in October and an explosion of new cases in Kentucky, the virus seeped into the center and spread like wildfire.
“It started with three veterans and seven staff members, which quickly turned into a larger outbreak,” the governor said earlier this week. The rate of positive tests now appears to be declining, he said.
In late October, the facility began daily antigen testing “on every shift for nursing and housekeeping staff on each unit,” the governor said. In addition to those measures, PCR tests were conducted twice weekly.
“Since the beginning this facility was following all the guidelines,” Beshear said. “The US Department of Veterans Affairs and its staff, the disaster emergency management personnel, have all been great.”
“But because we Kentuckians have failed to stop community spread thus far, we can’t keep it out of places like this.”
“It’s hard,” Beshear added. “I hope … we can do better by them.”
“Keep praying for our incredible, warrior staff and our precious veterans,” it said. “We are heartbroken over our losses. Please wear your masks and make smart, safe choices as you go about your daily lives. What we do out in the community matters.”
State reports record number of cases
The governor reported Friday a record number of new cases with more than 3,170 infections. The state also saw the highest number of single-day deaths since the pandemic’s start, with 25 Kentuckians lost to the virus.
“By now, if you don’t think you’ve known someone, who at least is close to someone who has been lost to Covid, you’re not listening,” the governor said during his Friday news conference. “Please, open your ears, open your eyes and open your heart and you will feel the grief and difficulty that’s out there and that should compel us all to do the right thing.”
The right thing, Beshear previously said, includes wearing a face mask.
“More people wear masks, then fewer seniors and fewer veterans die,” he said Monday. “With all the sacrifice they made, wearing a mask for them seems like a very small sacrifice.”