States Unite To Plan Reopening Economies After COVID-19 Shutdown

Coronavirus Update For Thursday, April 16

Image: FDA.

Robert Moore

Herald Staff

[email protected]

The partnership between Kentucky, Indiana and Ohio to reopen regional economies has expanded to include Wisconsin, Illinois, Minnesota and Michigan.

At yesterday’s briefing, Gov. Andy Beshear announced he was working with the governors of Indiana and Ohio on how they could ease restrictions each state has put in place to “flatten the curve” of the coronavirus outbreak.

While the president was scheduled to announce federal guidance on reopening the economy after the governor’s briefing, Beshear said state governors received a preview of the plan during a call earlier that day. He said a lot of what he’d seen in the White House metrics mirrored what his administration had been thinking. The governor asked people to pay attention to the benchmarks, not any specific dates given by the White House.

“In everybody’s plan, reopening is gradual, in phases,” he said. Beshear said reopening the state is contingent on several factors: a significant increase in testing capability, an increased ability to trace contacts and acquiring more personnel protective equipment. Until there is a vaccine, some restrictions will remain in place, Beshear said, who said he believes the state is still in the initial surge of infection. On Friday, he will announce the metrics that will guide the states in easing the restrictions.

For many Kentuckians, the governor’s daily briefings have offered a respite from worry over the pandemic even as COVID-19 has become the leading cause of death in the U.S. However, that calm was disturbed yesterday by a group of protesters who gathered outside the capital chanting, “We want to work!” and blowing horns.

On Thursday, the governor said the group had a right to protest, but they had to do it in a way that prevented the spread of the coronavirus. Beshear said the administration is looking at creating a way for people to protest as long as they observe social distancing protocols. He also said they were working on soundproofing so the protesters did not disrupt the briefing.

“We need to make sure that people at home can get that information,” Beshear said.

The governor announced two developments. Four new drive-thru testing sites will open next week, in Madisonville, Paducah, Somerset and Pikeville. The four sites will be open Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Beshear said they hope to perform 1,000 tests. Each site is available not just to local residents but to the residents of the contiguous counties.

Kroger will provide the medical staff, PPE and web portal for signing up. The state is providing the test kits and is working with UPS and Gravity Diagnostics to have results in 48 hours.

The testing will be provided free for healthcare workers, first responders, individuals 65 years or older and those who have chronic health conditions.

For more information, visit Krogerhealth.com/covidtesting.

He also announced that Lake Barkley State Park and Lake Cumberland State Park will provide non-congregate sheltering for people who need isolation to prevent the spread of coronavirus. Beshear said the parks would ease the load on hospitals. They are not for people who need significant care and would have limited medical staff.

On Thursday, the governor announced there were 159 new cases, including a 10-day-old baby in Lincoln County. Kentucky’s total confirmed cases of COVID-19 are 2,429. Beshear said 956 have recovered.

He warned that tomorrow could have an additional 200 cases on top of the regular announcement.

“We believe tomorrow is going to be the highest we’ve ever seen,” said Beshear.

There are now nine cases in Mercer, according to the Mercer County Health Department. A man in his 30s has tested positive. He is at home. Of the nine cases, only three are still active.

Across the world, there are currently 2.1-million confirmed cases, with nearly a third of them—667,225—in the U.S., according to Johns Hopkins University. There have been 143,725 deaths, with most of them—26,708—in the U.S.

The state has created a hotline (1-833-GIVE PPE) and website (giveppe.ky.gov) to streamline the donation process. In addition, PPE donations can be accepted at all 16 Kentucky State Police posts and at Transportation Cabinet offices in Louisville and Lexington.

Callers can reach the Kentucky COVID-19 Hotline at 1-800-722-5725, visit the Kentucky COVID-19 website at kycovid19.ky.gov or visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website at www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html.

The Kentucky Public Protection Cabinet has established the Team Kentucky Fund, an online platform to provide financial help to Kentuckians whose employment is affected by the coronavirus. The governor challenged those who are able to help to make a tax-deductible donation to the fund. In addition, a website portal has been created to streamline the process for businesses looking to donate supplies and services for Kentuckians in need.

The state has also created the COVID-19 Reporting Hotline (833-597-2337) that will investigate complaints about non-compliance with coronavirus mandates. Labor Cabinet personnel will monitor the hotline from 7:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. ET. There is also a new state website Kentuckians can visit to make online complaints kysafer.ky.gov.

Each day at 5 p.m. ET, Gov. Beshear holds briefings broadcast on local KET station WKLE 46 and online at his Facebook and YouTube pages.

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