FRANKFORT, Ky. — Gov. Andy Beshear on Monday offered new details on guidelines for businesses and health care providers looking to restart safely as we continue to fight the novel coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19).
The governor provided updated information for employers relaunching under Kentucky’s Healthy at Work initiative and announced new partnerships to expand testing in Northern Kentucky and provide masks for Kentucky businesses.
“Let’s remember: Even as we work at being Healthy at Work, we are still dealing with a very deadly virus out there,” the governor said. “We have to be gradual and we have to be smart. We have to make the right decisions and we need everyone on board.”
Beshear launched the Healthy at Work initiative in late April to guide the smart, safe and gradual reopening of the state’s economy. The initiative sets out public health benchmarks for reopening Kentucky’s economy. These benchmarks closely follow the White House’s Guidelines for Reopening America.
What began with the phased reopening of certain health care services continues as other business sectors prepare to relaunch operations in Phase 1 of Healthy at Work. State leaders asked partners in the business community for proposals on how they plan to operate while keeping their customers safe, and the state has already received more than 1,000 plans. The proposals, while not required, are expected to include best practices to safely operate and each industry’s capabilities for reopening.
Under the schedule outlined by Beshear, more businesses will be allowed to open May 11 with new minimum requirements, as well as industry specific requirements. Among the businesses that will be allowed to operate:
- Manufacturing, distribution and supply chain businesses
- Vehicle or vessel dealerships
- Office-based businesses (at 50% pre-pandemic capacity)
- Horse racing (no fans in attendance)
- Pet care, grooming and boarding
“It’s important that you meet these guidelines, these requirements, because it allows us to be healthy at work,” said La Tasha Buckner, the governor’s chief of staff and lead counsel. “That allows us the successful reopening and to make sure we’re making advancements and staying at the plateau level and hopefully declining.”
As long as progress in the fight against COVID-19 is not threatened, additional business sectors will be allowed to open May 20 and May 25.
Health care reopening Phase 2
Kentucky Department for Public Health (KDPH) Commissioner Dr. Steven Stack said Health Care Phase 2 will begin Wednesday, May 6, 2020, outpatient and ambulatory surgery and invasive procedures may resume.
All patients must have COVID-19 pre-procedure testing per professional association guidelines consistent with KDPH guidance. The 10 rules of reopening also apply, which includes universal masking and personal protective equipment (PPE), closed common areas, along with requirements to follow specific procedure guidance.
“Healthy at work applies to being healthy at the hospital,” Dr. Stack said. “In fact, if anything there are additional protections because of the unique characteristics of hospitals and surgical centers.”
Northern Kentucky testing
Beshear announced a new partnership to expand coronavirus testing in Northern Kentucky.
The state is working with St. Elizabeth Healthcare to bring expanded testing to Erlanger and other locations. Free drive-through testing will be conducted May 11 to May 15 from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. at 25 Atlantic Ave., in Erlanger. People should call 800-737-7900 to register. St. Elizabeth also is offering physician-consult testing at five testing locations.
“When we look back on our story of how we responded and what we had to do, what we’re going to see is that Kentucky’s labs stepped up to provide the testing that we needed,” the Governor said.
Partnership adds PPE, sanitizer
Beshear announced a partnership with the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce and the Kentucky Distillers’ Association to get personal protective equipment (PPE) and hand sanitizer to our small businesses as they prepare to be Healthy at Work.
The governor also instructed the Cabinet for Economic Development to work with the chamber. Together, we have been able to purchase 200,000 3-ply masks that are available for Kentucky businesses. Masks can be purchased at kychamber.com/maskorderform. They’re $1 each.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends everyone wear a mask, but they don’t have to be disposable. You can also wear homemade cloth masks, but surgical masks and N-95 respirators should be reserved for health care workers.
Kentucky’s distillers, meanwhile, have retooled to provide needed hand sanitizer. To date, Kentucky’s distillers have donated more than 150,000 gallons of hand sanitizer to our health care providers.
Businesses in need can visit kyhandsanitizer.com and put in a request to purchase sanitizer with the Kentucky Distillers’ Association.
Green River Correctional Complex
J. Michael Brown, secretary of the Governor’s executive cabinet, provided an update on efforts to fight the coronavirus at the Green River Correctional Complex in Central City. Mass testing was completed Friday at the facility and results are pending. Secretary Brown spoke about a new effort to address the outbreak at the complex by dividing the facility into three housing units based on test results and contact with infected individuals.
“I know that it’s been a difficult situation for everyone down in Green River,” Secretary Brown said. “But I want to commend all of those, particularly our corrections workers, and in fact the inmates who have cooperated all for the health and well-being of everyone there.”
Beshear announced Monday that Eric Friedlander is now the official secretary for the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, a position he had ably occupied as “acting secretary” through the pandemic emergency.
“He has more than earned the full-time job,” the governor said. “He has shown grace in times of great difficulty and he is exactly the kind of person I want to have going forward.”
As of 5 p.m. May 4, Beshear said there were at least 5,245 coronavirus cases in Kentucky, 163 of which were newly confirmed Monday.
Beshear also reported eight new deaths Monday, raising the state’s toll to 261 deaths related to the virus.
The deaths include six Jefferson County residents, men who were 69, 74, 86 and women who were 86, 89 and 98, a 79-year-old woman from Hopkins County, and 66-year-old woman from Hardin County.
“Losing eight people in a day to COVID-19, we want to do better,” the governor said.
At least 1,921 Kentuckians have recovered from the virus.
For additional information, including up-to-date lists of positive cases and deaths, as well as breakdowns of coronavirus infections by county, race and ethnicity, click here.