Beshear Sets Timelines For Phase Two Of Reopening Kentucky
Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear announced during his May 7 press conference the next phase of the state’s reopening will be initiated sooner than expected. Phase 2 will begin May 22 with restaurant reopenings and at a later date allow movie theaters, fitness centers, campgrounds, childcare facilities, and youth sports to reopen.
“May 22 is the day we're going to work towards reopening our restaurants at a limited inside capacity of 33% and unlimited outdoor seating,” Beshear said. “I know this isn't the capacity that our restaurants probably want. But the studies that we look at show that we've got to be really careful about this step. This allows it to be open for Memorial Day weekend. But please be careful everybody out there over this weekend.”
Beshear said this was the best compromise between public health and restarting the economy. He said he and Ohio Governor Mike DeWine reached an agreement regarding the date.
“We wanted to make sure that there weren't significant variances across that section of the Ohio River. He's going to open outside seating a little bit earlier,” Beshear said.
June 1 is the target date for movie theaters and fitness centers. Beshear said movie theaters and their association sent the state a well thought out plan, including digital ticket purchases. June 11 is the target date Beshear said he hopes to reopen public and private campgrounds.
"Campgrounds are areas that we intentionally, originally didn't want to close at all, but people weren't social distancing. We had to do this for the health and safety of people," Beshear said. "My hope now is that healthy at home is muscle memory for us and that we all do it. We know that it's the world we live in, that we can do campgrounds safely in June."
By June 15, childcare centers and outdoor youth sports are planned for reopening. Beshear said childcare facilities will have a significantly reduced capacity that will be heavily monitored.
"Now, there aren't going to be that many kids in each class. So that's one we're going to work through," Beshear said. “And then we're working on certain youth sports that are low touch and all of which have to be outside. No indoor youth sports at that point.”
There were 208 new cases of COVID-19 reported during the May 7 update. The total number of cases in the state is 6,129. There have been 81,391 individuals tested. Currently there are 199 individuals in the intensive care unit. Beshear said this number has been creeping up. The total number of Kentuckians recovered from coronavirus is 2,177.
Of the 208 new cases, 23 are out of western Kentucky counties: 12 Daviess County, four in McCracken County, three in Graves County, three in Henderson County, one in Hopkins County, one in Muhlenberg County, and one in Webster County.
Beshear announced 11 more Kentuckians died due to coronavirus. Eight of the 11 newly reported deaths were out of long term care facilities. Twenty-one new resident cases and six new staff cases have been reported. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has been sending a 14-day supply of personal protective equipment (PPE) to all 15,400 Medicaid and Medicare certified nursing homes, according to Beshear.
Beshear said Kentucky now has the capacity to do up to 30,000 tests per week. He announced a new drive-up testing partnership with First Care Clinics. There are 13 First Care Clinic locations in Kentucky. Of the 13 locations three are in western Kentucky: Madisonville, Hopkinsville, and Henderson.
Beshear said through the state’s testing partnerships, Kentucky has the potential to complete up to 50,000 tests a week.
“Right there, that's a potential for 200,000 per month, and what the White House wants us to hit is 88,000,” Beshear said. “Now 88,000 sounds big when you look at the total number of tests we've done. But the capacity changes very quickly. So I think our new challenge is going to be encouraging people to get tests.”
Beshear also announced that Kentucky is receiving $10.3 million for 25 Health Resource and Service Administration funded centers that are expanding the range of testing services. The $10.3 million dollars in funding for health centers is part of the Paycheck Protection Program and Healthcare Enhancement Act signed by President Trump on April 24, according to Beshear. Cities in western Kentucky set to receive funding include: Hopkinsville, Owensboro, Greenville, and Providence.
“A big part of being healthy at work is being able to get tested when you need it. It's one of the main requirements we need to meet to reopen our economy and to get back to work,” Beshear said. “You scan their temperature, boom, they have a big fever. You don't want them to just go home. You want them to get tested. So we've been working hard on a solution with the private sector that will significantly increase our testing capacity at a time when people return to work and return to worship.”
During the May 7 press conference Kentucky Department for Public Health Steven Stack said there are currently 72 sites where a healthcare provider is offering testing. The website kycovid19.ky.gov provides a map of testing locations. There is also a link for any healthcare provider who is conducting tests to apply to register their site to be recognized as an official testing site by Kentucky.
Beshear said PPE (personal protective equipment) needed for most businesses that are going to be reopening is going to be light and simple. He said that means cloth masks that can be made at home and referenced the state partnership with the chamber and distillers to address mask and hand sanitizer needs.
“This is especially helpful for small businesses. Now, if you are a facility, you might be a certain type of manufacturing facility where people are closer, or what you're doing brings more people in proximity,” Beshear said.
Announced Phase 2 will begin May 22.
Announced changes to the state’s unemployment assistance program, including a new weekly benefit amount.
Restrictions on gathering of 10 or fewer people, barber shops, salons, and similar services will be lifted May 25.
Restrictions on Kentucky’s houses of worship and retail stores will be lifted May 20.
Kentucky's "Healthy at Work" initiative will feature a phased reopening of the state's economy beginning May 11.
Kentuckians will be required to wear masks in public beginning May 11.
?Announced that Monday, April 27, the state will begin the gradual restart and reopening of our Phase 1 health care services and facilities, although they will operate vastly different than they did before the outbreak of the novel coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19). Click here for detailed guidance.
Announced the launch of "Healthy at Work," a new initiative to help Kentucky businesses reopen safely as we fight the novel coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19).
The state will work to expand testing in predominantly African-American communities.
The Murray Calloway-County Hospital is providing drive-thru COVID-19 testing to residents of the region.
In-class educational instruction will cease for the remainder of the Spring 2020 Semster.
Kroger will be setting up drive-up testing sites in Madisonville and Paducah beginning April 21.
?Beshear announced benchmarks Kentucky must meet in order to start reopening the state's economy while keeping Kentuckians safe from the novel coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19). The steps reflect federal guidance announced Thursday by the White House.
? Kentucky is joining with Governors, Eric Holcomb of Indiana, Mike DeWine of Ohio, Tony Evers of Wisconsin, J.B. Pritzker of Illinois, Tim Walz of Minnesota and Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan to closely coordinate plans to reopen the regional economies when the time is right.
License plate numbers of any individual attending in-person gatherings will be recorded by state and local officials. The residents will then receive quarantine notices in person from their local health departments.
Beshear issued an executive order 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-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. 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 is mandating 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 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.
Dalton York and Sydni Anderson contributed to this report.