Beshear Issues Exec. Order: Out-Of-State Visitors Must Quarantine, 186 C & D Felons To Be Released
Governor Andy Beshear confirmed 100 new COVID-19 cases in Kentucky today. The total number of cases in the state is 770.
The new cases include those reported in Christian, Daviess, McCracken, Calloway, Crittenden and Warren counties. Beshear adjusted the number of Wednesday’s confirmed cases to 670.
“That’s after we removed those that were duplicated or tested in Kentucky but don’t live in Kentucky,” he said.
He confirmed 11 deaths in the state, spanning from March 31 to Thursday. He said those tests “often just come back.” Beshear said all but one individual had “comorbidities” or underlying health conditions.
Beshear confirmed three people who are either at or work at Western State Psychiatric Hospital tested positive for COVID-19. He said two of those three people are in their 80s and are on ventilators.
Beshear extended the policy of no in-person instruction in schools through at least Friday, May 1. He announced an executive order expanding travel restrictions to where out-of-state people travelling into Kentucky need to quarantine for fourteen days “wherever they’re coming.” People who are just stopping for gas in the state are not included in the order.
“We have to make sure we don’t have folks who are travelling in, staying two days and leaving because that frustrates everything that we are trying to do right now,” he said.
The executive order also allows state, county and city governments to hire back retirees if needed.
“We’re now expanding it because we could see an entire part of state or city or county government ultimately in self-quarantine with this need to make sure that they have critical people in place.”
Beshear said starting tomorrow, no overnight stays will be allowed in state parks. He said this includes campgrounds and lodges. He said this order ensures people are healthy at home.
Beshear said state officials are moving ahead with plans to convert the Louisville Fairgrounds into a field hospital with at least 2,000 beds. He said the state is working in conjunction with the National Guard and Army Corps of Engineers.
“We want to learn lessons from watching other states and what they’re experiencing,” Beshear said. “I want to have this set. I want to have it fully ready. I even want to be able to lock the doors to it to reopen when we need it. I want to have it ready before we need one of those single beds. And if we don’t need it, hallelujah.”
Cabinet Secretary Micheal Brown said the Governor’s executive order will also help protect those who are incarcerated and those serving on behalf of the state as correctional officers and other institutional workers. He said today’s order will result in the commutation of sentences for 186 individuals.
“All of whom have been screened using criteria that the CDC has put out, indicating that they may be more vulnerable and susceptible to getting the virus,” Brown said. “These include respiratory ailments, heart conditions, etcetera.”
Brown said all of these individuals are C and D felons. He said they have conditions they have to uphold to fulfill the terms of the commutation. He said they first have to be medically screened at the institution prior to their release.
Brown said state officials want to make sure they are not releasing anyone into the community that are indicating symptoms of the virus. He said these people also need a confirmed residence they can go to and quarantine at following release. He said the individuals can’t commit any other offenses or break any other conditions while they’re out or else the rest of their sentence can be reimposed.
Brown said state officials have also pre-identified 743 inmates to release. He said these individuals are within 6 months of completion of their sentence. He said state officials plan to complete screening processes next week.
“This is lightening the load on our corrections system and at the same time protecting some of the most vulnerable individuals who are in the corrections system,” he said.
He said the institutions have “stepped up” sanitation and are imposing social distancing “as much as possible.”
Beshear said the felon populations involved in the commutations have also been screened for non-violent and non-sex-related crimes.
Beshear announced a new website portal to connect businesses interested in donating services or supplies with Kentuckians and Kentucky medical facilities in need.
?Beshear asked mayors and county judge-executives to monitor people gathering in public places such as parks and stop them if people are not practicing social distancing and risking the spread of COVID-19.
Unemployment eligibility has been expanded to include individuals typically not covered by unemployment insurance. This includes self-employed, independent contractors, freelance workers, substitute teachers and childcare workers employed by religious affiliated organizations and nonprofits.
?State officials have suspended evictions in for the duration of the COVID-19 Emergency.
Beshear established a Team Kentucky fundto help provide financial assistance to Kentuckians whose employment has been affected by this virus. People can donate to the fund that will be overseen by the Kentucky Public Protection Cabinet. Beshear said the fund will work like most popular fundraising platforms where people can “click a couple buttons and give instantly.” He said donations are tax-deductible.
State officials created a COVID-19 reporting hotline for people to report situations and groups or organizations they believe are dangerous. Beshear said this could be groups not engaging in social distancing or businesses not abiding by CDC guidelines. The hotline is 1-833-KYSAFER or 1-833-597-2337. The hotline will be staffed from 7:30 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. by labor cabinet employees. People can also leave messages after hours. He said the hotline received roughly 2,000 last night.
Beshear said the state is taking “security measures” around hospitals to ensure safety. He said people will see additional law enforcement and National Guard around hospitals.
Beshear encouraged all radio and TV stations to do public service announcements. He said Kentucky needs more encouragement about social distancing and recommended stations pull information from the kycovid19.ky.gov website.
The state is going to be conducting a survey of outpatient surgical centers for their supplies and staff. Beshear said it's something the state is doing so it can “marshal every single resource at a time of need.”
The state is closing non-essential retail businesses to in-person traffic as of 8 p.m. Monday night. These include entertainment, sporting goods, clothing, shoes, jewelry, bookstores, florists, furniture and auto dealers. Beshear said these retail businesses can still do curbside and pickup and urged them to be “innovative.” He said stores unaffected by this order are grocery stores, pharmacies, gas stations, drug stores, liquor stores, hardware stores, agriculture supply and equipment stores and auto repairs and parts stores. Beshear said these stores still need to follow CDC guidelines and “spread people out.” He said auto dealers will still be able to provide repairs and parts and can only do sales if the interaction is complete online or over the phone.
The state, starting Monday, is mandating that medical facilities cease elective procedures. He said the vast majority of providers have responded to the state’s recommendation voluntarily.
Kentucky has issued a state of emergency that Beshear said will last until COVID-19 is “taken care of.” He said the state’s emergency management operations center is up, as well as the state health operations center.
The state established the COVID-19 hotline and a website providing updates on the virus for Kentuckians. People who are sick but would have not sought care should contact their healthcare provider to prevent flooding of health care facilities. People who have questions about the virus call the COVID-19 Hotline at (800) 722-5725.
A price gouging order is in effect. Kentuckians who have any information regarding possible price gouging should dial (888) 432-9257 for the Office of the Attorney General Consumer Protection hotline.
Officials adjusted state government sick leave policy to ensure sick employees stay at home. Beshear said businesses should do the same. He encouraged all businesses to allow employees to work from home if at all possible.
The state published CDC guidelines with warnings for sick individuals. Beshear said people over the age of 60 or people with heart, lung or kidney disease; compromised immune systems; or diabetes should be extremely careful and avoid places with crowds. He said Kentuckians should not fly if they don’t have to and that no one should get on a cruise ship.CDC guidelines say everyone should be engaged in social distancing.
Beshear issued an executive order to waive copays, deductibles, cost-sharing and diagnostic testing fees for private insurance and state employees. He said the state has issued executive orders and worked in Medicaid to make sure COVID-19 testing and treatment is free.
Beshear signed an executive order to allow pharmacists to refill prescriptions for up to 30 days.
The state closed all state prisons to visitors.
Beshear said the state closed restaurants and bars to all in-person traffic, except for drive-thru, delivery and, in some instances, take-out.
Beshear said the state has limited visitation in “just about every type of facility that works with or for our seniors.”
The state has recommended schools cease in-class activities, including in-person classes. Beshear said Friday this has been extended to April 21 and, as of now, all school districts have complied.
Beshear said the state is making sure first responders and health care workers are covered through Kentucky Employers Mutual Insurance. The insurance provides wage replacement benefits for first responders and medical personnel who have been quarantined for COVID-19.
Child care centers are closed with the exception of those helping healthcare workers and first responders.
The state postponed primary elections, moving voting to June 23.
The state issued an executive order to close all public-facing businesses that encourage public congregation.
Beshear said the state has waived the waiting period for unemployment insurance and continues to work to reduce the barriers to unemployment. Beshear said they are working on unemployment for independent contractors and small business owners.
The federal government’s Small Business Administration has granted Kentucky application to allow small businesses to get disaster loans. Beshear said SBA’s website is fixed and small businesses can now apply online for the disaster loans they need. SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loans applications can be completed and filed online at www.sba.gov/disaster.
All Kentuckians on the Grand Princess cruise ship were brought back home.
The state provided a three-month extension on driver’s licenses.
Beshear said the state is extending Medicaid, SNAP and other benefits: “If it’s running out and you would have to reapply in the next couple of months, you don’t have to.” He said the state is re-upping people on those benefits for a three-month period.
The state has suspended all charitable gaming licenses.
The state has issued a formal letter banning all mass gatherings.
The state is delaying the tax filing deadline by three months from April 15 to July 15.
Beshear said the state has issued guidance for good mental health.