COVID-19 Update For Thursday, May 14
The state has unveiled guidelines for retail businesses, which can reopen Wednesday, May 20, and restaurants, which can reopen their public dining areas on Friday, May 22.
But it will be a different world for those who reopen.
According to the state website, employees at retail businesses or restaurants who are able to work from home, such as accounting staff, should continue to do so.
Reopening businesses must limit the number of customers to 33-percent of the maximum permitted occupancy, and everyone inside, both employees and customers, should maintain a distance of six feet between each other. Businesses must be able to track their occupancy and stop customers from entering if necessary.
Employees must wear face masks for any interactions with co-workers and customers. All businesses are asked to go paperless whenever possible.
For diners returning to restaurants, it will also be a different world. Under state regulations, children’s play areas, salad bars and self-service drink stations are to be closed.
Restaurants are being asked to discontinue using tablecloths, cloth napkins and menus and are asked to consider installing portable or permanent non-porous physical barriers, such as plexiglass shields, between tables.
While employees are required to wear masks and gloves, it’s up to restaurants to decide whether to serve customers who do not. While customers can remove their masks in order to eat and drink, restaurants can refuse to serve customers who won’t wear masks while away from their table.
There are no occupancy restrictions on outdoor dining, unlike indoor dining, but parties—which are restricted to 10 or fewer people—can sit no closer than six feet from each other.
For all reopening businesses, there is going to be a lot of cleaning. Any frequently touched surface—such as seating, table-tops, door handles, phones, pens and keypads—must be disinfected between each use with EPA registered household disinfectants, diluted household bleach solution or alcohol solutions containing at least 60-percent alcohol. Restaurants are asked not to use cleaning procedures that could re-aerosolize infectious particles such as dry sweeping or use of high-pressure streams of air, water or cleaning chemicals.
For more detail on what procedures retail businesses and restaurants must observe in order to reopen, visit https://govstatus.egov.com/ky-healthy-at-work.
Indiana allowed restaurants to reopen at 50-percent capacity on Monday, May 11. But eateries contacted by the Louisville Courier Journal reported slower than normal sales for this time of year.
“By the time you pay your employees, pay your gas bill, electric bill, there’s not enough profit in it to overcome the loss,” said Dale Shelton, the owner of Angie’s Cafe in Jeffersonville. “We hope every day gets a little better, so maybe we can start seeing a profit. It’s going to take a long time to recoup.”
At Thursday’s briefing, Gov. Andy Beshear was asked why he was allowing the state’s travel ban to expire and moving up the date that allows groups of 10 people or less to gather.
“I’ve got to live in the real world,” said Gov. Beshear, who noted the Memorial Day holiday is coming up.
Even though no state in the nation has been able to meet federal guidelines for reopening, the process is not happening fast enough for some. Beshear was asked about reopening the state economy even faster.
“That wouldn’t be safe. It wouldn’t follow the White House guidelines,” he said Thursday night. “My job isn’t to be popular, it’s to make the right decision.”
The governor was also asked about employees refusing to return to work when they can possibly earn more money on unemployment. Beshear said it was up to the employers to attract workers.
“Create a clean, safe work environment and I know Kentuckians will be there,” the governor said.
On Thursday, he announced 199 new confirmed cases, raising the state’s total to 7,225. So far, 2,712 people have recovered. The governor also announced two new deaths, raising Kentucky’s total to 328.
While Kentucky’s COVID-19 numbers seem to have plateaued, there has been a decided shift in the age of the people being infected.
On Wednesday, WKYT reported more people in their 20s were being diagnosed than those in the oldest age groups. Those in their 20s make up 891 cases compared to 849 cases involving those in their 60s.
Citing statistics from the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services, WKYT reported those in their 40s are the age group with the single largest number of cases at 1,151.
With 1,072 cases, patients in their 50s make up the second largest number while those in their 30s are close behind with 1,067 cases as of May 13, according to WKYT.
While the number of cases are growing faster among Kentuckians under 60, the disease isn’t as deadly among younger age groups.
Team Kentucky Fund
Lt. Gov. Jacqueline Coleman announced the Team Kentucky Fund Assistance Application Portal would open Friday, May 15, at 8 a.m. Kentuckians who have been financially impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic can apply for financial assistance in the form of vouchers, which can be used to pay for rent, electricity, groceries and other qualifying expenses.
“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,” Lt. Gov. Coleman said.
The fund is overseen by the Public Protection Cabinet and is administered through a partnership with Kentucky Community Action Agency. To read the criteria to qualify for financial assistance, visit the website tomorrow at 8 a.m.