LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) — Back from a one-day hiatus, Gov. Andy Beshear reported 253 new COVID-19 cases in Kentucky and five additional deaths related to the respiratory disease over the course of two days. 

The state eclipsed 5,000 total cases of and 250 deaths related to the novel coronavirus with Sunday's update. Fifty-two of the new cases and two of the deaths (a 90-year-old man and a 99-year-old woman) reported Sunday came from Jefferson County. 

There were 173 new cases of COVID-19 reported Saturday and 80 reported Sunday, Beshear said, crediting Sunday's low report to "very few tests" processed over the past 24 hours. The governor reported five deaths related to COVID-19 on Saturday and none as of 5 p.m. Sunday. In total, Kentucky has seen at least 5,130 cases and 253 deaths related to COVID-19. 

"At the worst we have plateaued, and maybe when we look at the rate it's even a little bit better than that," Beshear said. "But remember: This is all based on what we were doing two weeks ago in many ways." 

At least 795 of the state's confirmed positive cases and 130 of the state's virus-related deaths have been residents at long-term care facilities, and 320 staff members have tested positive as of Sunday. Two staff members have died after contracting COVID-19. 

Nearly 1,900 of the state's confirmed COVID-19 cases have recovered, Beshear said. 

State health officials have processed 58,408 tests as of Sunday, Beshear said. That's an increase of 9,934 tests in a week; Beshear reported 48,474 tests processed April 26. There are 126 testing slots available for Friday, May 8, at Louisville's Shawnee Park, according to the governor, who noted there have been about 50 no-shows at each of the state's Kroger-sponsored testing sites. Click here for more information on testing registration. 

"We can increase testing capacity on the state side as much as we want, and we're working to do that, but you have to show up and take the test," Beshear said. 

When asked how the Phase 1 reopening of non-urgent health care within the state, which began April 27, has impacted the rest of his reopening plan, the governor said officials wait another week to see if there is a spike in new COVID-19 cases before determining any changes to the larger blueprint. 

The field hospital at the Kentucky Fairgrounds in Louisville has not been used, but Beshear said it will remain intact as a "turnkey solution" to a possible surge in cases over the coming weeks. 

Beshear responds to 'Freedom Rally' at Capitol

Hundreds gathered for a "Freedom Rally" on Saturday at the state Capitol in Frankfort, Kentucky, to call for a reopening of the state's economy amid the government-ordered shutdown Beshear's administration has put in place. 

Many attendees said they were taking a stand for liberty and constitutional rights and voiced opposition to Beshear's guidelines for wearing face masks and social distancing in public.

Several lawmakers spoke with protesters, and Beshear criticized them for encouraging attendees to take off their face masks and saying social distancing is a hoax.  

"That's just reckless," the governor said. "We're living in a worldwide health pandemic that could kill so many; look at what it's doing in our long-term care facilities. You don't think at least one of the people who might have been there, who was encouraged to take off their mask and not socially distance, could pass it on into one of these facilities?

"It's OK to disagree, but, if you are a leader people listen to, be responsible in how you do it," he added. "If people want to protest and be heard, do it in a safe way ... Whether you agree or disagree with me, I want you to be safe. Whether you believe COVID is real or not, I know it is and I want you to be safe from it, so just (protest) in a way that won't spread the virus." 

When asked if there will be any enforcement measures taken against participants in the Freedom Rally, a mass gathering that violated his March 19 executive order prohibiting such events, Beshear said, "We'll see."

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