Gov. Beshear: Kentucky was at disadvantage for testing, increased capacity growing

Published: May. 5, 2020 at 5:01 PM CDT
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Expanded testing capacity is critical for re-opening the economy safely, and compared to numbers from neighboring states, data indicates Kentucky is behind in this regard. However, the governor says the state is increasing its capacity every day.

Governor Andy Beshear says that Kentucky's lack of resources was a factor in being a bit behind.

"Kentucky has had a few disadvantages of ramping up our testing because we don't have some of the major labs that other states do," explained Beshear.

He added they've ramped up several labs that went from never performing COVID-19 testing, to being the state's main supplier.

"We've had to create it and build it on our own," Beshear said.

Right now, there are 17 sites up-and-running in the state, plus the tests performed through the private sector. At Bowling Green's site last week, over 1,200 people were tested. Beshear says there's a lack of materials for testing and competition among states.

"The swabs that go up your nose, very uncomfortably, to make this test happen -- there's been a very large shortage all across the United States," he said. "So it wasn't just us; it was everyone else competing for them."

The governor has had a goal of testing 20,000 Kentuckians per week. Last week the state did over 10,000.

"I think we will be over 20,000 per week within the next couple weeks at least," said Beshear.

A phrase we've also been hearing lately is "antibody testing." This is a critical new test that shows past infection of COVID-19 within a person. Gov. Beshear said there are not any immediate plans to provide Kentuckians with antibody testing in the same way that drive-thru testing sites are conducted. However, you should be able to get an antibody test through your local physician.

"As we move towards antibody testing -- and we will -- in the future, this is going to be pretty significant, that we have the science right; that it can tell us the information that we need," Beshear explained. "That's still a work in progress across the United States."

Meanwhile, the guidelines from the White House for opening back up America include the ability for robust testing, and with that, the governor asks Kentuckians of this:

"What we need out there is Kentuckians to embrace testing and sign up. That way that we can re-open our economy safely," Beshear said.

He added that the state is working with local officials in Bowling Green to create a long term solution for a testing site in the city or at least within the region.