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Beshear Impresses Importance Of Social Distancing As Religious Holiday Approaches

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Gov. Andy Beshear Facebook

Governor Andy Beshear announced 134 new COVID-19 cases and six new coronavirus related deaths in his April 9 statewide update. 

Twelve of the newly reported cases are out of Hopkins County, bringing the county’s total case number up to 77 and the death toll to six. Fifty-four of the total number of cases are believed to be linked to a church service.

Two of the six deaths reported by the governor today are out of Hopkins County, a 70-year-old female and an 82-year-old female. 

“Hopkins has been hit really, really hard and their leaders are doing a really good job. I appreciate their leadership, and the public health department is working as hard as they can,” Beshear said. “If you will help me in praying and thinking for the people of Hopkins County.”

Other cases reported out of western Kentucky counties include: three in Muhlenberg, two in Henderson, two in Lyon, one in Daviess, one in McCracken, one in McLean, and one in Todd. 

Additionally, Calloway County Health Department has been notified of an additional confirmed case of coronavirus. The total number of confirmed cases for Calloway County is now 12, with three cases fully recovered. The local health department reports currently, one COVID-19 patient is hospitalized, seven are isolated at home, and one has passed away this week.

Kentucky current case number is 1,452. Beshear confirmed there have 395 Kentuckians recovered from coronavirus and 288 COVID-19 patients are currently hospitalized, 105 hospitalized individuals are in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU).

Beshear addressed concerns for Kentucky counties bordering Tennessee. He showed a map of Christian County as an example of what can happen if individuals do not refrain from traveling, especially to different states. 

 

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Gov. Andy Beshear Facebook

“If you go there you bring every contact back, that's why we have our no travel order to other states,” Beshear said. 

Josh Benton, Deputy Secretary of Kentucky’s Education and Workforce Development Cabinet, gave an update on the numbers of claims, payments, and new resources available through the employment insurance in the state. 

Benton said the unemployment call center volume has spiked significantly in claims since March 16. 

 

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Gov. Andy Beshear Facebook

“Some good news on this front, we've been hiring and training and staffing over the past week and a half. We've seen progress,” Benton said. “We've been answering more calls every day than we have the day before.”

Benton said Kentucky’s unemployment system is old, but daily updates are being made. He shared that the system is taking on about 14,000 claims a day. 

 

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Credit screen shot / Gov. Andy Beshear Facebook
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Gov. Andy Beshear Facebook

“ Our system is old, there's no doubt about that. It's one of the oldest in the country, we had to make some significant adjustments, some more claims could go into it,” Benton said. “We’ve been able to start paying the payments for individuals that filed on March 16 last week, and so when you look at that, we've paid over 208,000 Kentuckians.

 

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Gov. Andy Beshear Facebook

The state received federal funding stream information yesterday afternoon regarding the additional $600 a week payment to everyone on unemployment insurance. 

“We're going to play catch up for a couple of days to get those payments out. No one has to refile. No one has to request an additional payment, that's all going to be done automatically to everyone who's filed, it will be a separate payment from the normal UI payment,” Benton said.

Department for Public Health Commissioner Dr. Steven Stack gave an update on Rivers Bend, a senior care facility in Lyon County. Rivers Bend has seen an outbreak of 10 positive cases. Stack said one resident of the facility has been placed in a hospital and four medical students reported to Rivers Bend. The four medical students are currently being housed at a local motel.

One of the four volunteer medical school students is Hopkinsville local Gant Unfried. Unfried is a third year medical school student at University of Kentucky’s Medical School. 

"I'm just glad to be able to help this exhausted nursing staff who are the real heroes," Unfried said. 

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Gant Unfried

“I'm going to tell you this team loves these residents. They have a passion to care and the concern these leadership teams have for their residents is staggering,” Stack said. “To these four medical students who are the first deployed volunteers, thank you so much.”

Beshear pleaded with listeners to stay home despite the importance of this weekend to religious communities. 

“We have Easter coming up on Sunday. These are very special times, but as we have talked about, with Coronavirus this year, it's very important that we worship from home,” Beshear said. “I've never been as sure of something in my faith as I am on this, we must protect each other. Don't frustrate the sacrifice of so many others. The best thing that you Kentuckians can do to celebrate your faith, even in this most special of weeks is to protect your neighbor.”

 Steps The State Has Taken To Address COVID-19

  • Beshear issued an executiveorder limiting the number of people in stores that remain open. Only one adult per household should shop at one time.

  • The state is increasing unemployment hotline operators from 12 to more than 1,000.

  • The Department of Public Health is introducing a tiered system to streamline COVID-19 testing. Public Health Commissioner Steven Stack announced a partnership with 32 Kentucky hospitals to expand access to testing, especially in the rural parts of the commonwealth. 

  • Beshear issued an executive order commuting the sentences for 186 C and D felons. 

  • Beshear has issued a 14-day quarantine for returning Kentucky residents who have left the state for reasons other than: caring for a loved one, going to the closest grocery store for supplies, parental visitation, going to work

  • State officials are moving ahead with plans to convert the Louisville Fairgrounds into a field hospital with at least 2,000 beds. Beshear said the state is working in conjunction with the National Guard and Army Corps of Engineers.

  • State officials banned overnight stays in state parks. Beshear said this includes campgrounds and lodges.

  • Beshear extended the policy of no in-person instruction in schools through at least Friday, May 1.

  • Beshear 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.

  • Beshear issued an executive order allowing critical workforce sectors to rehire previously retired workers to fill key roles.

  • Beshear issued an executive order easing restrictions on nurses who live out of state and making it quicker to obtain a license.

  • 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 for the duration of the COVID-19 Emergency.

  • Beshear established a Team Kentucky fund to 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-KYSAFERor 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. 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.

Sydni Anderson and Dalton York contributed to this post

Hannah is a Murray State Journalism major. She found her place in radio during her second year in Murray. She is from Herndon, KY, a small farming community on the Kentucky/Tennessee stateline.
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