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Increased testing capacity comes to Kentucky, long-term care task force created

While benchmarks are in place to work towards reopening, the state is working to protect those at risk and victims of the virus

FRANKFORT, Ky. — The COVID-19 drive through testing partnership between the state and Kroger, is officially a success. Today marks the last day of the four days of drive through testing in Kenton County and Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear says it's been the best drive through testing to date.

But Kenton County was just the beginning, completing 848 tests throughout those four days. 

"So starting on Tuesday Madisonville, Paducah, Somerset and Pikeville will have drive through testing," Beshear said. "I'd like to get 1,000 tests done in each of these locations over the next four days."

To sign up and get tested you can be anywhere in the region. Just head to krogerhealth.com/covidtesting to sign up.

But in order to get tested, you have to fit the criteria. That includes having any COVID-19 symptoms like fever or shortness of breath, healthcare workers or first responders who have been exposed or even people with mild symptoms who may have been exposed.

Advanced increased testing capacity is just one of the benchmarks the state needs to meet in order to consider re-opening. Another is the ability to protect the at risk population, like those in long-term-care facilities. Below is the full list;

1. Lower number and rate of new cases

2. Increased testing and tracing capacity

3. More personal protective equipment

4. Ability to protect our at-risk population

5. Ability to social distance and comply with CDC guidelines

6. Preparedness to deal with a possible future spike 

7. The status of vaccines and treatments

Beshear announced forty more residents and six more staff have tested positive, and three more people have died.

The deputy secretary of the Cabinet for Health and Family services, Eric Friedlander, announced about a week and a half ago, the cabinet brought together a task force consisting of Kentucky experts to provide new recommendations. Friedlander says that's crucial, because there are things seen in many people that aren't as common in these at risk groups, like fevers. Now this group is raising new questions.

"And they've looked at what are the unique features of these populations," Friedlander said. "When do you transfer somebody? When do you have somebody in a facility? When do you bring folks together? It's called cohorting, within a facility, that you bring the positive folks together and separate them from the rest of the facility."

They are already starting to make changes to their policies.

"We've talked about and are going to change some of our Medicaid policies around how long we hold beds and facilities, how long we hold beds in hospitals," Friedlander said.

Aside from those being cared for at these facilities, they are also considering changes for staff and how they are cared for, in order to slow down the spread of this virus as much as possible.

Contact reporter Jessie Cohen at JCohen@whas11.com and follow her on TwitterFacebook or Instagram 

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