Gov. Andy Beshear 03-26-20 coronavirus.PNG

Gov. Andy Beshear gives an update on the state's response to the novel coronavirus COVID-19 on March 26, 2020.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Novel coronavirus cases in Kentucky jumped by 50 on Thursday, marking the largest daily increase as COVID-19 continues to spread, Gov. Andy Beshear said.

The sharp uptick puts Kentucky's total confirmed COVID-19 cases at 248.

Jefferson County's positive cases jumped to 60 on Thursday, Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer said during his daily COVID-19 briefing. Kentucky's most populous county identified 14 new cases of the novel coronavirus.

Beshear said the state also saw its first nursing home resident, a 90-year-old Perry County man, test positive for COVID-19. However, he announced later Thursday that the man tested negative for the novel coronavirus.

Beshear, whose order that non-life-sustaining businesses close to in-person traffic takes effect at 8 p.m. Thursday, used that situation to emphasize the importance of social distancing in the coming weeks, which he said were "critical" to limiting the spread of the novel coronavirus.

"It ought to be a reminder that something as small as playing that basketball game thinking you're invincible, it might be the case for you, but if you have it and you spread it and someone goes home to someone who works with vulnerable adults or children, that could be what does it," Beshear said, adding that he's asking county judge-executives and mayors to closely monitor their local parks for large gatherings.

Campgrounds are also a concern, Beshear said. State park leaders will be on the lookout for people not practicing social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"We want to keep our campgrounds open, but we have a couple of reports right now of large groups that are gathering at campgrounds, and we can't let that happen," Beshear said. "So again, don't try to be the exception."

When asked how long before his administration would ease its guidance on social distancing, Beshear declined to give a timeline.

"It's going to take how long it takes to defeat the coronavirus the first time," he said.

Dr. Steven Stack, Kentucky's public health commissioner, said he's "cautiously optimistic" that the state's efforts to curb the spread of COVID-19 has "been able to bend and blunt the curve" of the novel coronavirus.

With another week of data, "we'll be able to hopefully see that the efforts that the governor has done here in Kentucky with your active participation have helped us," he said.

"I believe that we are not here to force people to do the right thing," Stack said. "We're here to inspire people to do the right thing."

Beshear, like other governors, has been on the hunt for personal protective equipment for healthcare workers and first responders, which is in short supply across the U.S.

Kentucky has spent more than $8 million in its COVID-19 response, including the purchase of protective gear, Beshear said. Jefferson County Public Schools donated more than 40,000 pieces of the equipment to the Louisville Metro Department of Public Health and Wellness on Thursday.

"We still don't have what we're going to need for a sustained surge, and my goal is to procure as much of it as possible so that we are ready," Beshear said.

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