About 1,200 free COVID-19 tests are available at the fairgrounds in Ohio County this week, but only 145 residents had registered for them as of Monday afternoon, Gov. Andy Beshear announced at his daily briefing.

“If we’re going to reopen our economy ..., we have to do better than that,” Beshear said.

During the first month of the coronavirus, the state’s big problem was finding enough swabs, gloves, face masks, shields and gowns to administer the tests.

Now, that equipment is ready and waiting.

The new issue: In some areas, such as Ohio County, residents aren’t signing up for all the available tests.

People do not need to be symptomatic to register for the tests. They are available to everyone.

The virus has hit Ohio County hard. As of Monday, the county of about 24,000 residents had 134 confirmed COVID-19 cases.

In Green River District Health Department’s seven-county service area, Ohio County ranks second only to Daviess County, which has 287 cases; however, Daviess County’s population is more than 100,000.

Registration for the Kroger-sponsored testing is required.

To register for Ohio County’s drive-thru site, go to krogerhealth.com/covidtesting. Four hundred tests per day are available Tuesday, May 19; Wednesday; and Thursday.

On Monday, Beshear announced 87 people had registered for Tuesday, 45 for Wednesday and 13 for Thursday.

Residents do not need to live in Ohio County to be tested there. People from neighboring counties are welcome.

“Contact tracing, along with testing, is absolutely critical for our reopening and for being healthy at work,” Beshear said.

In fact, Kentucky plans to spend more than $100 million of CARES Act funding on contact tracing and testing.

Beshear said both initiatives need the public’s buy-in to be successful.

Public health departments use contact tracing to identify infection and limit its spread as quickly as possible. All information gathered during contact tracing remains confidential, the governor said.

The state is hiring 700 contract workers to assist with contact tracing during the next seven months, the timeline for CARES Act funding.

In other news, Beshear announced two more Kentucky children — a 5- and 11-year old — have been diagnosed with pediatric multi-system inflammatory syndrome, a coronavirus-related illness.

Last week, the governor announced two children had been hospitalized with PMIS. The first child, a 10-year-old, remains in ICU. The 16-year-old has been released from the hospital.

PMIS symptoms include irritability, decreased activity, abdominal pain, diarrhea, vomiting, rash, red or pink eyes and swelling in the hands and feet.

Parents should call the state’s PMIS hotline with questions. The number is 800-722-5725.

Beshear reported a two-day total of 260 new confirmed cases of COVID-19, bringing the state’s total 7,935.

He also announced a total of 12 more deaths. To date, 346 Kentuckians have died from the coronavirus.

On Monday, Green River District Health Department officials reported seven new confirmed COVID-19 cases — one in Daviess County and six in Ohio County.

The total number of reported COVID-19 cases in the seven-county district is now 584.

For the second day, Muhlenberg County Health Department reported no new cases of the virus, leaving its total at 476.

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

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

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