Gov. Andy Beshear

Gov. Andy Beshear (WDRB Photo)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Gov. Andy Beshear warned Friday that Kentuckians may need to continue social distancing for several weeks or months because of the coronavirus.

And he did not discount that the National Guard be activated in the state.

In a candid interview on Kentucky Sports Radio on Friday, host Matt Jones asked Beshear if Kentuckians would be social distancing, in essence staying home for the most part, for weeks or even months.

Beshear said there is “uncertainty,” as no one really knew much about the virus a few months ago. But he said citizens need to be ready to stay put for the next couple months.

When Jones seized upon that timeline — the "months" part — and asked Beshear again, the governor reiterated that this could just the beginning.

“This is going to be more than a couple of weeks," he said. "We’ve got to be ready for it."

Beshear said Kentucky has a total of 47 COVID-19 cases currently, but that number is assuredly much higher as testing kits are still limited.

Asked about rumors of a possible shelter-in-place order for Kentucky, Beshear didn’t exactly shoot that down either, at least in coming weeks.

“We are not in that ... place yet, but we should expect to see continuing steps to engage in social distancing,” he said. And if the National Guard is mobilized in Kentucky, they will be here to help, “not circle our homes or threaten to arrest us.”

He said people could still go for walks, go to the grocery and leave their homes for emergencies, “but we should expect to see continuing steps to engage in social distancing.”

After the interview, Beshear tweeted: 

"We have not implemented Shelter in Place, but it is not as scary as it sounds. You can still take walks & shop for groceries. It only builds on social distancing, which we are practicing. Any step we take will allow you to provide basic needs."

Jones also told Beshear he has been receiving complaints about employers who are still forcing employees to work close together, such as at factories.

The governor encouraged employees who fear for their safety to contact officials and warned businesses that employees need to be separated and if they “haven’t changed their practices, you have to do it.”

If businesses won’t do it voluntarily, “it requires us to take more steps,” Beshear told Jones.

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Jason Riley is a criminal justice reporter for WDRB.com. He joined WDRB News in 2013 after 14 years with The Courier-Journal. He graduated from Western Kentucky University. Jason can be reached at 502-585-0823 and jriley@wdrb.com.