FRANKFORT, Ky. — Gov. Andy Beshear said Tuesday that Kentuckians will defeat the novel coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) by learning from the Greatest Generation and employing the qualities of personal responsibility.
“Those qualities of personal responsibility are critically important. My actions and how they impact other people, I am responsible for,” Beshear said. “Of integrity. Of knowing, we do not get days off when it comes to this virus, and knowing the impact that we can have on others. Work ethic. We have to have the work ethic to complete our task and to come out of this having protected those around us. Finally, faithful commitment. We are fully committed to defeating this virus. We are going to faithfully continue to do what it takes. This is our moment in history, and people’s lives depend on us.”
Teacher Appreciation Week
Beshear hailed the work of Kentucky’s great educators during Teacher Appreciation Week and Teacher Appreciation Day, May 5.
“We so appreciate the job our teachers are doing,” said Beshear. “What teachers have done in this time of crisis is truly amazing. From preparing work for children to complete at home to helping deliver food – thank you.”
As of 5 p.m. May 5, Beshear said there were at least 5,822 coronavirus cases in Kentucky, 625 of which were newly confirmed Tuesday. More than 300 of the positive cases were from testing at Green River Correctional Complex.
Beshear also reported 14 new deaths Tuesday, raising the state’s toll to 275 deaths related to the virus. Many of those deaths were related to long-term care facilities, the governor said.
The deaths include a 79-year-old man and an 89-year-old woman from Boone County; an 85-year-old man from Henderson County; a 77-year-old man from Hopkins County; two women, ages 59 and 70, from Jackson County; two men, ages 35 and 91, and two women, ages 63 and 69, from Jefferson County; and three women, ages 86, 88 and 96, and a 94-year-old man from Kenton County.
At least 2,058 Kentuckians have recovered from the virus. The number of Kentuckians tested is at least 61,013.
Dr. Steven Stack, commissioner of the Kentucky Department for Public Health (KDPH), said focused testing in confined populations, like long-term care facilities, meatpacking and processing facilities and prisons, can often have much higher positivity rates once the infection enters the community.
“We are about to embark on a very aggressive program to test the long-term care facilities over the weeks ahead at a very brisk pace,” Dr. Stack said. “Thank you for what you have done, but I have to continue to emphasize that we must continue these efforts even as we are trying to ease health care back into a better level of functionality and even as the Governor has announced the Phase 1 reopening plan. The normal we return to will be a new normal. It will not be the same normal we left until we get access to a vaccine or until we get access to a fantastic treatment or cure.”
Dr. Stack also noted that Perdue Farms would be taking the necessary steps to test employees.
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.
Green River Correctional Complex
Beshear said mass coronavirus testing at Green River Correctional Complex was completed last week.
J. Michael Brown, secretary of the governor’s executive cabinet, said more than 1,000 tests have been returned and a total number of positive cases linked to the facility currently stands at 342 inmates and 57 staff members.
Brown also provided an update on efforts to fight the coronavirus at the Green River Correctional Complex in Central City. To address the outbreak at the complex, the facility is being dividing into housing units based on test results, contact with infected individuals and those in a vulnerable population. Brown said temperature checks and deep sanitizing are also taking place to help reduce the spread.
“We almost have a complete snapshot of the situation at Green River which allows us to go ahead and truly plan on how to address that population,” said Brown.
Testing update; new Pikeville location
Beshear offered an update on expanding efforts to boost testing throughout the commonwealth. The governor announced a new drive-through testing site in Pikeville, as part of a partnership with the Pike County Health Department, Gravity Labs and Pikeville Medical Center. The testing is being conducted today through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Pikeville Medical Center, 172 S. Mayo Trail in Pikeville. The site can conduct 70 tests daily and filled all of those slots today.
For more information on testing locations and how to sign up visit, kycovid19.ky.gov.
Josh Benton, deputy secretary of the Kentucky Education and Workforce Development Cabinet, provided three updates to the state’s response to an unprecedented number of unemployment insurance claims.
He said there were changes coming to the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance.
“This is primarily for individuals who do not normally qualify for unemployment insurance,” Benton said. “There’s about 100,000 of those individuals currently receiving benefits on this program.”
He said the minimum benefit for Kentuckians on PUA is $176 per week. Recipients need to request the benefits online every two weeks. To make things easier, people can submit wage history from last year to calculate the benefits.
“In more cases than not, it’s going to increase their benefit amount above that $176 a week,” Benton said.
Second, Benton said employers will now be able to report return-to-work dates for their employees at https://kewes.ky.gov/. Benton said there were several exceptions, including for workers who are in at-risk categories or who are caring for at-risk relatives.
Finally, Benton said officials were working to clear the final claims from March and that the few remaining outstanding issues had to do with disagreements with the employer about terms of separation.
Healthy at Work
Beshear on Monday introduced new requirements for the Phase 1 of Healthy at Work.
Under the schedule outlined by Gov. 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; construction; vehicle or vessel dealerships; office-based businesses (at 50% pre-pandemic capacity; horse racing (no fans in attendance); pet care, grooming and boarding and photography. 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.
The governor said that he hopes to announce Phase 2 this week. He also said that his administration is working with faith leaders on guidance for houses of worship. The guidance has not been issued yet.
“Just because May 20 you can potentially reopen, doesn’t mean that you should,” Beshear said. “It has to be done safely. Our faith leaders have asked me to reiterate this – you should trust your faith leader in your congregation about when it is going to be safe to resume.”
To honor Giving Tuesday, Beshear urged Kentuckians who can to give to the Team Kentucky Fund.