Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear speaks during April 12 COVID-19 briefing

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Gov. Andy Beshear said Kentucky is partnering with Kroger to launch free drive-thru COVID-19 testing across the state.  

The drive-thru testing will be limited to health care workers, first responders, people age 65 and older and individuals with chronic health conditions such as heart disease, lung disease and other immune-system-lowering diseases, Beshear said. In order to receive a test, individuals must apply through a digital registration portal hosted by Kroger. 

"Kroger is not charging the state one penny for this," Beshear said. "I don't know anywhere else in the country where people are doing that. They might be, but that's really incredible that they are providing the people and the (personal protective equipment) to do it."

Testing will begin Monday in Frankfort, Kentucky, and more sites will be announced in the coming weeks, Beshear said. Colleen Lindholz, the president of Kroger Health, said sites will test from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Thursday and will able to test 250 people a day.

Beshear said the partnership with Kroger will allow 20,000 people around Kentucky to be tested for the coronavirus over the next five weeks, which approximately doubles the state's current testing capacity. 

Kroger will be providing staff and personal protection equipment (PPE) at the testing sites. The testing will be self-administered using swabs that can be exchanged with health care workers manning the sites, Lindholz said. This method of testing is less invasive to patients, will help reduce the amount of PPE needed for testing and help protect health care workers, she added.

Beshear announced 134 new cases of COVID-19 in Kentucky, bringing the state's total to at least 1,963. The governor also announced three additional virus-related deaths, including a 72-year-old man from Jefferson County, which brings the state's toll to 97. 

Thirty of the new cases reported are from Jefferson County, Beshear said. 

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