Governor Andy Beshear said if Kentucky does not receive additional CARES Act funding, the state will face a $1.1 billion shortfall in the next fiscal year and “devastating cuts.” He said if the state does not receive either the ability to use some of its current CARES Act funding or another round of stimulus funding, potential cuts could be between 16% to 29%.
“To put that in context, I believe our single biggest annual cut that I’m aware of in our history has been 12%,” he said. “This would be like letting Kentucky go bankrupt, which we cannot allow to happen.”
Beshear said the shortfall hurts education, social services and the ability for the state to provide unemployment insurance.
“It’s going to hurt every single thing we do and further starve the systems that people are relying on.”
Beshear said Kentucky is not seeing the same “very concerning spike” in coronavirus cases that other states are seeing.
“We are seeing ourselves continue to be in that plateau area between about 150 and 300 cases,” he said.
Beshear confirmed 282 new cases Tuesday, bringing the state’s total case number to 15,624. He said 408 people are currently hospitalized with 75 in the ICU. Beshear said at least 3,990 Kentuckians have recovered from the virus. Hospital bed occupancy is currently under 60%. About 73% of ICU beds are occupied, but Beshear said those are mainly from non-COVID patients. He reported five new deaths due to coronavirus. The total number of deaths is 565.
“Let’s not forget that this virus is deadly. It preys on those that have pre-existing conditions and while we have lost some people in their 30s, just because the majority may be older doesn’t mean the person that spread it to them isn’t younger,” he said.
Beshear said 189 new residents in long-term care facilities have tested positive for coronavirus. He said 100 new staff members have also tested positive since June 24. He said 19 residents have since died and eight new facilities have reported positives.
Beshear said Kentucky isn’t currently at the point where state officials would pass mandatory masks rules. He said he sees most adults not wearing masks.
“A mask is the best way to show that you care about other people.”
Beshear said all Kentuckians have an individual responsibility to do what it takes for the state to be reopened at its current level and not cause a spike in cases.
“If we do, and if we have to roll things back, it will be because we individual Kentuckians did not take the responsibility to make sure we follow the rules to do it safely. It will be on us,” he said.
Kentucky Department for Public Health Commissioner Steven Stack said Monday began the state’s entry into phase 3 of the state’s “gradual and calibrated” reopening. Stack said Kentucky’s new case reports have stayed “relatively flat” over the past few weeks.
“The state of Kentucky was at about 50 per million two weeks ago and about 50 per million today,” he said.
Stack said the trend is not an accident and is because Kentuckians have made sacrifices to make it possible. He said the most powerful and cheapest thing people can do to prevent a surge in cases is to wear a mask.
In an economic update, Beshear said since December 10, his administration has announced 135 expansion and new-location projects, nearly 4,700 new full-time jobs planned and $1.34 billion in planned and ongoing investment in the commonwealth.
These announcements include beverage can manufacturing company Crown Cork & Seal’s $147.5 million investment in Bowling Green. Beshear said the facility will create 125 new jobs.
Cabinet for Health and Family Services Secretary Eric Friedlander announced applications for pandemic electronic benefit transfer (P-EBT) will be accepted through the end of August. He said the deadline was previously June 30 but was extended due to a recent “upsurge of folks who are trying to get the P-EBT benefits.” He said the cabinet has signed up over 516,000 people for P-EBT.
“We know there are another 100,000 out there so we want to give everybody the opportunity to sign up,” he said.
Friedlander said Medicaid Presumptive Eligibility coverage ending on June 30 will be extended three months. Presumptive eligibility is short-term Medicaid coverage.
Beshear said people should make sure they are signed up for healthcare coverage.
“Everybody qualifies for some form of healthcare coverage,” he said.
Beshear said expanded Medicaid and a reduced number of uninsured individuals has helped Kentucky be where it currently is amidst coronavirus.
Beshear said state officials have taken several actions to improve the unemployment system, including increasing the unemployment workforce and restarting in-person visits. He said Kentucky has entered a contract with outside vendor Ernst and Young to catch up on unemployment claims from March, April and May by July 31.