Gov. Andy Beshear in a Thursday update on COVID-19 in Kentucky reported 2,318 new cases and 20 newly reported deaths. Beshear emphasized the importance of wearing masks and staying home. He reiterated the importance of the state-issued mask mandate saying, “a mandate is only as good as the number of people who will follow it.”
Beshear also some small business owners are getting more relief, in the form of a 12 month waiver on alcohol beverage renewal licensing fees for restaurants and bars. He said the waiver is in light of the struggles restaurants and bars have faced economically since early March and the capacity limitations and masks requirements that have created less business. Restaurants and bars will not have to pay until 2021, he said, and those who have already paid their dues will be waived of their renewal fees next year.
Beshear called COVID-19 adjustments and precautions “an incredible sacrifice for humanity,”and he urged Kentuckians to prioritize going to local restaurants that require social distancing, the use of PPE and other safety measures.
He said there are 80 counties now classified in the “red zone”, with “critical” COVID-19 spread, and he again stressed a list of recommendations for “red zone” counties to follow. There are now 1,534 coronavirus-related deaths in total throughout the state since the beginning of the pandemic.
As cases continue to rise, the amount of individuals hospitalized has risen since Oct. 22 from 800 to 1,102. The amount of people in the ICU has risen from 214 to 291. Those on ventilators increased from 105 to 129.
Beshear offered more locations to the varying counties across the state in which they offer COVID-19 testing. These locations include, Purchase District Health Department in Paducah, Ashland-Boyd Health Department, Kentucky River Health Department, and Lincoln Trail Health Department.
“One asymptomatic infected person that doesn’t quarantine, could infect up to 400 other people,” Beshear said.
Beshear also touched on the use of CARES Act funding saying $1.6 billion had to be expended by Dec. 31. Beshear broke down the funding for specific issues Kentucky is facing due to the pandemic.
He said $219 million will be spent on PPE, testing, contact tracing, and public awareness of COVID-19. $421 million will go toward state government funding, $300 million toward local government funding, $46 million toward local health department funding, and $7 million for general election expenses this year.
$28 million dollars will be spent on education and internet access, $102 million will be provided for long-term health care needs, and $235.9 million will be spent directly assisting Kentuckians with unemployment, eviction prevention, child care, and meat processing facilities. Lastly, $200-335 million will be used to repay federal unemployment insurance loans.
The governor also highlighted online events held by the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources, adding the department has held 63 live, online educational events between March and early May. He said more than 1.1 million people attended these events, learning about voting safety and what the department offers.
These events have been archived on the department’s Youtube channel and are available to the public. They were also able to provide educational opportunities and new resources for teachers for free, such as distancing learning sources, worksheet programs, and virtual conservation camps. More information is available at fw.ky.gov.
Correction: The visual for this article was updated to include a more recent screenshot of the incidence rate map for Kentucky.