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Governor Announces New Restrictions To Fight Coronavirus

COVID-19 Update For Wednesday, Nov. 17

Robert Moore

Herald Staff

Gov. Andy Beshear has issued new executive orders to slow the exponential growth of COVID-19.

At Wednesday’s briefing, Gov. Beshear announced he was ordering schools to cease in-person instruction and bars and restaurants to stop offering indoor dining. The governor also ordered indoor sporting events, including practices, to be canceled. That does not include college or professional athletics. Venues such as Rupp Arena will still be allowed to operate at 15 percent capacity.

The following new orders go in effect starting 5 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 20, and continue until 11:59 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 13:

  • Private gatherings are limited to current household plus one other household and no more than 8 people total.
  • Indoor venues, event spaces, theaters are limited to no more than 25 people, including funerals and weddings. The order does not effect church services. The governor said he would make recommendations to churches Thursday.
  • Restaurants and bars are closed to indoor dining. Outdoor service, delivery and to-go will be permitted as long as mask wearing and social distancing are enforced.
  • Gyms, fitness centers, pools must reduce occupancy to 33-percent. Masks are required and group classes are not permitted.

The governor said all public and private schools must cease in-person classes starting Monday, Nov. 23. Middle and high schools can reopen on Monday, Jan. 4. Elementary schools may open on Monday, Dec. 7, as long as the county is not in the red zone.

Kentucky’s mask mandate is still in effect.

Gov. Beshear also announced the creation of a $40-million fund to assist bars and restaurants impacted by the restrictions. Entities currently operating as bars and restaurants that qualify can receive $10,000 with a maximum of $20,000 per business for those with multiple locations.

Businesses with at least 50-precent of their sales in drive-thru and those owned by publicly traded companies are not eligible for aid. Applicants must be in compliance with the governor’s executive orders. Applications will be accepted online starting Nov. 30.

“These restrictions are necessary now,” said Beshear, who noted Kentucky is entering a third wave of COVID-19 infections. On Wednesday, he announced 2,753 new infections, the fourth highest day since the pandemic began. The five highest days for new have all been recorded over the past week, he said.

“We cannot continue to let this third wave devastate our families,” he said.

The governor called the restrictions “significant but targeted and surgical steps” in contrast to the shut-down at the beginning of the pandemic. He said he was not asking hospitals to curtail elective procedures, although he noted that many hospitals, concerned about being overwhelmed as the number of new cases grow, have begun curtailing elective procedures on their own. He said there would be no further restrictions on retail. The governor said he doesn’t think another shut-down is on the table. Said the economy will remain open as long as they can make “surgical” actions.

While he acknowledged the size limit on private gatherings would be difficult to enforce, the governor noted that most of the businesses impacted by the executive orders are licensed by the state. He asked everyone to help fight the spread of COVID-19. “We’re at war with an enemy we can’t see,” Beshear said. “We have got to get this right.”

Image: Mercer County Health Department

The number of new cases continue to climb, including here in Mercer County. On their Facebook page, the Mercer County Health Department announced 19 new cases. Currently there are 187 active cases, with 162 people in quarantine and three people in the hospital. So far, there have been 20 deaths while 367 are listed as having recovered.

On Wednesday, the Kentucky Department of Public Health announced 2,753 new cases, raising the commonwealth’s total to 144,753. In addition, 15 new deaths were announced, raising Kentucky’s death toll to 1,712. So far, 25,058 Kentuckians are listed as having recovered.

The department also announced that 1,553 people are hospitalized, 359 are in intensive care while 176 are on ventilators. For the full daily report, click here.

According to Johns Hopkins University, there have been over 56 million confirmed cases across the world, with over 1.3 million deaths. In the U.S., there have been over 11.4 million confirmed cases–with 161,934 new cases on Wednesday—with 250,029 deaths.

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