FRANKFORT, Ky. — Gov. Andy Beshear on Thursday released a new timeline for reopening more of the state’s industries, but reminded Kentuckians it will not be business as usual anywhere until the novel coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) has been defeated. He also updated Kentuckians on expanded testing, utility scams and federal support and funding.
“We have been up against big adversaries here in Kentucky. We are going to succeed against this adversary as well,” Beshear said.
As of 5 p.m. May 7, Beshear said there were at least 6,128 coronavirus cases in Kentucky, 208 of which were newly confirmed Thursday. The governor read out several ages of the day’s positive cases, which demonstrated that all age ranges are contracting the virus.
Beshear also reported 11 new deaths Thursday, raising the state’s toll to 294 deaths related to the virus.
The deaths include a 94-year-old man from Butler, a 97-year-old woman from Edmonson, an 89-year-old man from Edmonson, an 80-year-old woman from Edmonson, an 86-year-old man from Edmonson, a 62-year-old man from Butler, a 73-year-old man from Warren, a 92-year-old man from Edmonson, a 78-year-old man from Jefferson, an 87-year-old woman from Grayson and a 66-year-old man from Hardin.
“Each one is more than an age, a gender, a county, even though that is the information we read every day. These are 11 Kentuckians we have lost, 11 families that are grieving,” Beshear said. “They are going to have to go through this at a time when they can’t grieve a normal way.”
Beshear continues to encourage Kentuckians to light their homes green in honor of those we have lost.
At least 2,177 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.
Healthy at Work Phase 2
Thursday, Beshear announced the second phase of reopening the commonwealth’s economy, but urged patience and caution in continuing the fight against COVID-19.
May 22 – Restaurants, with limited 33% capacity and outdoor seating
June 1 – Movie theaters, fitness centers
June 11 – Campgrounds, public and private
June 15 – Child care, with reduced capacity; and potentially low-touch and outdoor youth sports
“That is when we are opening our restaurants on a limited inside capacity plus unlimited outdoor seating if they can get the spacing that is needed,” Beshear said. “This allows restaurants to be open for Memorial Day weekend, but please be careful.”
The governor added that Phase 3 is coming July 1 with bars, with limitations and gatherings up to 50 people allowed.
Beshear announced a new partnership with First Care Clinics to expand testing as more businesses reopen. First Care Clinics can now provide COVID-19 tests at 13 locations, seven days a week across the state, at no cost to employees or their employers. Kentuckians can schedule a test online.
“We’ve been working hard on a solution with the private sector that will significantly increase our testing capacity at the time people return to work, and return to worship,” Beshear said. “Our vision for this partnership with First Care is that it becomes the place folks go to get a test if they’re going back into work.”
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First Care accepts Medicaid, Medicare and most insurance plans. Most plans have waived copays so First Care will not collect anything from insured or uninsured patients being tested for COVID-19 at the time of the visit.
“To open Kentucky safely, we need testing. Right now, we have the capacity to do 30,000 tests weekly. A big part of being healthy at work is being able to be tested,” Gov. Beshear added.
“First Care is honored to partner with the Governor as part of his Healthy at Work initiative,” said Rob Pantoja, co-founder and CEO of First Care Clinics. “We’ve treated over 700,000 Kentuckians since we opened our first clinic and have some of the highest patient satisfaction scores in the industry. Our employees are extremely compassionate and are eager to help Kentuckians get back to their places of work and worship.”
Dr. Steven Stack, Commissioner of the Kentucky Department for Public Health (KDPH), said the Bluewater Diagnostics Laboratory can now provide testing throughout Kentucky and in a variety of locations. The lab runs two drive-thru testing sites in Bullitt and Johnson counties, as well. To contact Bluewater Diagnostics about testing options, call 502-538-2980 or email[email protected].
“Ultimately, we need to have the private sector work in conjunction with us to build our capacity to do large scale testing,” said Dr. Stack.
Information on how to register at more than 70 sites throughout the commonwealth can be found at kycovid19.ky.gov.
Scammers threaten to disconnect electric service
Electric cooperatives across Kentucky are reporting a surge in scammers attempting to exploit Kentuckians amidst the COVID-19 crisis. Callers claim to work for a utility company or co-op and threaten to disconnect service without immediate payment.
“We are in the test of our lives, let’s make sure we don’t let anyone take advantage of us at this time,” said Gov. Beshear.
In March, the Kentucky Public Service Commission issued an order that halts disconnections for non-payment and fees for late payments. Gov. Beshear urges Kentuckians not to arrange payment or divulge personal information on the phone unless they are absolutely sure they are speaking with their utility company.
Kentuckians who suspect a scamming attempt should contact their utility and the Kentucky Attorney General’s office: online scam reporting form, ag.ky.gov/scams and Consumer Protection Hotline, 888-432-9257.
Federal Funding, Support
Gov. Beshear announced today that the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet has been awarded nearly $22.9 million for relief of public transit agencies that have been hit hard by the deadly COVID-19 pandemic. A list of the transit agencies, amounts of potential awards and areas of service is available here.
FEMA is coordinating two shipments totaling a 14-day supply of personal protective equipment to all 15,400 Medicaid and Medicare-certified nursing homes. The shipments are meant to supplement existing efforts to provide equipment to nursing homes.
Gov. Beshear also announced that Kentucky will receive $10.3 million for 25 health centers funded by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). Centers will use this funding to expand the range of testing and testing-related activities to best address the needs of the local communities. For more information, click here.