FRANKFORT, Ky. — Gov. Andy Beshear on Thursday reminded Kentuckians to keep up the fight against the novel coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) in the commonwealth.
“When people write the history about this point in time, they will say the people of America, but specifically the people of Kentucky, came together, did what it took, and protected one another and took on a global pandemic better than we have ever seen anybody do it,” the governor said.
He shared new case information and spoke about the importance of getting tested for COVID-19 and watching for the signs of a new illness some children develop after being infected with the novel coronavirus. He also provided an update on the Team Kentucky Fund and unemployment insurance.
As of 5 p.m. May 14, Beshear said there were at least 7,225 coronavirus cases in Kentucky, 199 of which were newly confirmed Thursday.
Beshear also reported two new deaths Thursday, raising the total to 328 Kentuckians lost to the virus.
The deaths reported Thursday include an 82-year-old man and a 95-year-old woman, both from Grayson.
“Today, we have one of the lower numbers of deaths we have announced in a long time,” the governor said. “But it’s still two Kentuckians we have lost whose families are going to miss them just as much as if it were 10 today. Let’s make sure we honor two just as much as we’ve honored every other one.”
At least 2,712 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.
Beshear said in partnership with Kroger, new testing locations would open in Richmond, Mayfield, Louisville and Hartford next week. Information on how to register at more than 70 sites throughout the commonwealth can be found at kycovid19.ky.gov.
“We now have the capacity to test more than the White House suggests we test every month to successfully reopen our economy in a slow, gradual, safe way. But to do that, we need you to sign up,” the Governor said. “The more we do this, the safer you are.”
May 22 & Healthy at Work updates
Beshear announced that beginning May 22, groups of 10 people or fewer may gather and that the state’s travel ban is expiring the same day, the Friday ahead of the Memorial Day weekend.
The Healthy at Work website now includes retail and restaurant guidance.
The state has now posted initial guidance for restaurants as they reopen, but Gov. Beshear said he is still seeking feedback from those in the industry.
CARES Act Education Funding
Beshear announced Thursday that the Kentucky Education and Workforce Development Cabinet (KEWDC) has been awarded more than $43.7 million from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act for education programs that have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The federal grant is part of the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund (GEER), authorized under the CARES Act. The emergency block grant will fund the needs of students, schools (including non-public schools), postsecondary institutions, and other education-related organizations in Kentucky.
“Kentucky schools are facing new challenges in how we educate our students during this time of crisis,” said Gov. Beshear. “Technology plays a vital role in how we educate during this pandemic. GEER funding will allow us to ensure that technology continues to be an aid, not a barrier, to providing a world-class education while keeping our educators and our learners safe at home.”
The federal funds include $30 million for K-12 technology assistance and food programs. The Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) is working directly with school districts on their specific food costs and technology needs, and funds will be allocated accordingly to districts. The remaining funds will be administered by the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education (CPE) and used for relief in public and private higher education institutions.
KEWDC Secretary and Lt. Gov. Jacqueline Coleman said, “There are over 500,000 students across Kentucky whom rely on the free/reduced lunch programs offered by their schools. That need is only aggravated by COVID-19. This funding helps ensure those students will not go hungry.”
Child illness update
Dr. Steven Stack, commissioner of the Kentucky Department for Public Health, said the 10-year-old with Pediatric Multisymptom Inflammatory Syndrome (PMIS), a syndrome that is causing serious health problems for some young people, is continuing to improve. The 16-year-old patient was dismissed from the hospital yesterday.
PMIS is a rare illness being seen in some children who have been infected with COVID-19. About a month after a coronavirus infection, children and teenagers with PMIS develop fever accompanied by abdominal pain and, often, swollen hands, feet and lymph nodes.
Dr. Stack said the department issued a PMIS advisory yesterday, which provides guidance, key points about the syndrome, possible symptoms and reporting directions.
Dr. Stack said the Kentucky Pediatric COVID-19 Hotline (800-722-5725) staffed by Norton Children’s Hospital is prepared to answer questions from both parents and clinicians about PMIS.
Team Kentucky Fund
Thursday, Lt. Gov. Coleman announced the Team Kentucky Fund Assistance Application Portal would open tomorrow at 8 a.m. Those who have been significantly financially impacted by the COVID-19 emergency can visit the website, and apply for financial assistance.
“We currently have $3 million in the Team Kentucky Fund. This amount has been raised though the generosity of businesses and the members of Team Kentucky,” said Lt. Gov. Coleman “Thank you. What you have done to support your fellow Kentuckians is truly special.”
The fund is overseen by the Public Protection Cabinet, and is administered through a partnership with Kentucky Community Action Agency. Assistance will be provided in the form of vouchers. The vouchers can be used to pay for rent, electricity, groceries and other qualifying expenses.
Kentucky Community Action Agency will review all applications, to see who qualifies for assistance. To read the criteria to qualify for financial assistance, visit the website tomorrow at 8 a.m.
Green River Correctional Complex
J. Michael Brown, Secretary of the Executive Cabinet, reported that there are still only four hospitalizations from the complex (two inmates and two staff). Based on the mass testing results, the entire inmate population was separated into distinct housing areas: 1) positive inmates, 2) negative inmates with direct exposure, 3) negative inmates with no exposure, and 4) medically vulnerable inmates.
“Thanks to the work of a lot of folks, our health department, the local health department, our corrections officer and even the inmates themselves, all the moves have taken place and that’s a big stabilization and it’s reflected in our numbers,” said Sec. Brown. “If these numbers continue, it will be good news for all of us.”
Retesting is underway at GRCC. Medically vulnerable inmates have already been retested and additional retesting will be carried out.
Inmates have all been given two masks and will receive another on Monday. Increased sanitization efforts continue using germicide and a bleach solution multiple times a day. In addition, 10 extra bottles of germicide have been placed in each dorm and refillable spray bottles have been provided for each cell. Hand sanitizer is available upon request.
Unemployment insurance update
The remaining initial March claims are now at 16,600, these are complex claims that may include identity verification, overpayments, employee protests and interstate claims. Over a nine-week period beginning in March, 88% of the 576,486 claims have been processed. The remaining initial April claims are now 49,928. A total of $1.37 billion in claims have been paid.
National Hospital Week
National Hospital Week (May 10-16) allows us to recognize our hospitals and health care professionals for all their hard work and dedication to supporting those in need during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“National Hospital Week 2020 highlights the adage of every hospital, health system and person involved in keeping our communities safe – that health comes first,” said Gov. Beshear. “Thank you to these heroes.”
The American Hospital Association is encouraging “A Week of Thanks,” where people can participate from the safety and comfort of their homes while health care heroes go to work fighting against COVID-19.
Show your support with #HospitalWeek as we continue to celebrate our frontline workers saving lives and supporting their fellow community members.