If residents don’t practice social distancing, an estimated 29,500 Kentuckians could die of the coronavirus, Gov. Andy Beshear reported during his Wednesday press conference.

That’s based on President Donald Trump’s model, which showed more than 2 million Americans could die if residents don’t follow social distancing protocols. That data prompted Trump to extend the nation’s period of social distancing through April 30.

“We believe (Trump’s) model might be an optimistic scenario,” Beshear said.

The governor pushed a strong social distancing message in his daily talk with state residents. If people follow the directives of his Healthy at Home initiative, Beshear said, the estimated number of Kentucky lives lost could fall to the 1,300 level, using the Trump administration’s model.

“This is one part that is entirely in our control,” Beshear said of social distancing.

He announced two more deaths — a 60-year-old Daviess County man and a 76-year-old Hopkins County woman — from the coronavirus, bringing the total to 20. And he reported 93 new cases of the virus.

Green River District Health Department announced Tuesday that a Daviess County person had died, but did not release the age or gender. There is often a lag in the number of confirmed cases and deaths as information makes its way from numerous testing labs to the state’s 61 health departments to state officials.

On Wednesday morning, GRDHD officials reported 17 new cases of coronavirus in the district’s seven-county region, including Ohio County’s first two cases. GRDHD now has 61 confirmed cases.

The numbers by county are: Daviess, 45; Henderson, eight; Webster, three; Union and Ohio, two; and Hancock, one.

Muhlenberg County Health Department reported two more coronavirus cases, taking that county’s total to 12.

Also, Owensboro Municipal Utilities along with two local companies — Specialty Foods Group and UniFirst — reported confirmed coronavirus cases Wednesday.

“We did have an employee with a confirmed COVID-19 diagnosis at the Elmer Smith Station,” said Sonya Dixon, OMU spokeswoman. “Fortunately, that employee was already working from home prior to the onset of symptoms. Out of an abundance of caution, the employee’s office and surrounding areas were sanitized. This was considered a low risk to any other employees at that facility.”

SFG, which produces meat products, has followed the guidance of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food Safety Inspection Service and Green River District Health Department to maximize the protection of its employees, a company press release said.

The SFG employee is in a 14-day quarantine.

“When this case was confirmed, SFG also notified other employees of possible exposure and directed all team members known to have been in close contact with this individual to stay home and self-quarantine as well,” the press release said.

The infected employee’s work area was properly sanitized.

UniFirst’s infected employee is seeking medical assistance at home, according to a press release. As a precaution, employees who were in close contact were asked to self-quarantine for 14 days.

“As always, the health and safety of our team partners is our top priority,” the press release said. “We will continue to adhere to the heightened cleaning, sanitizing, personal hygiene and social distancing guidelines provided by the CDC as well as other directives from local health authorities.”

Renee Beasley Jones, 270-228-2835, rbeasleyjones@messenger-inquirer.com

Renee Beasley Jones, 270-228-2835, rbeasleyjones@messenger-inquirer.com

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