FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear ordered bars and restaurant dine-in services to close in another aggressive step to contain the new coronavirus as the state reported its first death linked to the illness.
The 66-year-old Bourbon County man had other health conditions but his death was counted as a coronavirus death, Beshear said Monday. He offered his sympathy to the man's family.
"There were numerous factors that led to this point," the governor said. "The coronavirus was only a factor. But what it means is that it's very important that we all do our patriotic duty as we move forward to model the type of behavior that we need."
Beshear said during the weekend that the man was in "bad shape" and not expected to recover.
The man was taken to Baptist Health Lexington for a stroke and was tested for the virus after being admitted, a hospital spokeswoman told the Lexington Herald-Leader. The man also had pneumonia.
For most people, coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia. The vast majority of people recover from the new virus.
Beshear has preached the importance of social distancing, the need to postpone community gatherings and proper hygiene to help curb spread of the virus.
"We all have a duty to do everything we can that it takes to beat this virus," he said. "This is our duty as Kentuckians. This is our patriotic duty. ... And to me, it is our Christian duty."
Kentucky has had 21 confirmed cases of the virus.
In his latest step to try to minimize its spread, Beshear said he was ordering all bars and restaurant dine-in services in the state to close. He joined a handful of other governors, including California, Ohio, Illinois, Massachusetts and Washington, who closed bars and restaurants to walk-in patrons. The order does not apply to carryout and food delivery services, which can continue, he said.
On Sunday, Beshear expressed frustration with reports that people packed into some bars or nightclubs during the weekend.
"We're asking people to make major sacrifices in this state," he said. "We're shutting down schools for at least a couple of weeks. We have to make sure that these efforts work. And if you go out and get in a small place with 100-plus people, you frustrate those efforts."
Beshear on Monday urged people to continue supporting restaurants by ordering takeout meals, and said his family will do so for at least three meals a week.
He acknowledged that closures to walk-in patrons will hurt businesses.
"We're going to do everything we can to help with the financial impact," he said. "It's not lost on me that most of these are small businesses. ... But we have to take the steps to make sure that we are protecting our people, and this is a necessary one."
Beshear also ordered the state Capitol to close to non-essential personnel, starting Tuesday.
"I am a person who ran on these doors being open for everyone all the time," the governor said. "We're dealing with something that we could have never anticipated. And at the end, my obligation is to keep people safe as we move forward."
State lawmakers were not in session Monday but are scheduled to reconvene at the statehouse on Tuesday in Frankfort.
Ellis Park Racing and Gaming at Henderson said it was temporarily closing due to the virus. The closure includes simulcast and historical horse racing gaming areas and restaurants at the western Kentucky attraction, it said.
Meanwhile, testing for the virus is still slow going in Kentucky and around the country.
"We hope that in the near future there will be widespread testing," Beshear said Monday. "We don't have a timeline for that and every time we get a timeline, it seems to be extended."
Federal officials said they are coordinating with states to set up community testing centers, and that effort would begin Monday.
The U.S. efforts for widespread testing has been hobbled by a series of missteps, including flaws with the testing kits first distributed by the federal government and bureaucratic hurdles that held up testing by private laboratories.