Gov. Andy Beshear added more businesses and industries to Phase II of his Healthy At Work reopening plan Friday and discussed what will be needed to reopen schools this fall.
Cabins and lodges at Kentucky State Parks may reopen June 1, along with fishing tournaments, dirt track racing, bowling alleys and pools – for exercise and laps – at aquatic centers.
“Obviously, tourism is an incredibly important business in Kentucky (and) we’re taking a big revenue hit from it," Beshear said. "But that’s not the reason that we’re reopening it now. It’s that we believe we can do it safely with social distancing … especially this summer for people to travel in-state where it’s safest, and in a way that you can still have that summer vacation with your family, though it will certainly be a little bit different.”
As for why public pools cannot reopen along with exercise and lap pools at aquatic centers on June 1, Beshear said: “There are those that are saying (coronavirus) can’t spread in public pools, what they mean is it’s not spreading in the water. (But) it spreads if kids are playing in the pool … or outside of the pool where they congregate,” he said.
Meanwhile, most state park recreation areas have remained open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. amid the pandemic, but state park facilities have been closed.
According to the state parks website, restaurants will reopen “on a carryout basis only.” Additionally, campgrounds are set to reopen June 11, but campers must have “self-contained campers or RVs with bathrooms” because restrooms and bath houses will remain closed.
The website also states that “all park guests are required to use social distancing, wear masks covering their mouth and nose and to not visit a park if they are showing symptoms of COVID-19."
Asked about what it would take for schools to return to in-person instruction for the upcoming academic year, Beshear said it is his goal to do so.
He said it will depend on whether there is a decrease in cases, sufficient testing capacity in every area and plans in place to lessen contacts inside schools. He added that the state wants to see the effect of summer weather on the virus and the potential of a spike of cases in fall.
Kentucky Public Health Commissioner Dr. Steven Stack said earlier this week that early reports show warm weather will not “diminish” the virus.
Beshear also confirmed 252 new coronavirus cases statewide, 36 of which are probable, bringing the total to 7,444.Of those, 2,739 have reportedly recovered and 381 are hospitalized, 218 of whom are in intensive care.
The state’s death toll rose to 332 with four new virus-related deaths.
Meanwhile, the Barren River Area Development District’s COVID-19 Dashboard, which uses data from the state Department of Public Health, showed 1,222 cases Friday in BRADD’s 10-county region. Those cases include 751 in Warren, 212 in Butler, 80 in Logan, 49 in Edmonson, 37 in Allen, 35 in Simpson, 34 in Barren, 15 in Hart, six in Monroe and three in Metcalfe.
The Barren River District Health Department confirmed 1,116 total cases in its eight-county area in a news release Friday. The 1,116 cases include 701 in Warren, 201 in Butler, 47 in Edmonson, 82 in Logan, 36 in Simpson, 27 in Barren, 19 in Hart and three in Metcalfe. Of the 1,116 cases, 395 have reportedly recovered. The department confirmed one new virus-related death in Edmonson County, bringing the district-wide total to 21, including nine in Edmonson, six in Butler, and two apiece in Warren, Simpson and Logan.
There are at least 39 confirmed cases in Allen County, according to the latest update on Wednesday by Allen County Health Department, which is not part of the Barren River district.
Totals often differ between the state data and local health departments because of different reporting methods.
Beshear also announced Friday that $500,000 in federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act funds has been awarded to 85 humanities organizations in Kentucky affected by the virus.
Beshear said he will not hold a briefing at all this weekend, the first time that will have happened since the first coronavirus case was confirmed in Kentucky on March 6. A “short video” is planned to be released Saturday with an update on cases statewide. Sunday’s update will be included during Beshear's briefing Monday.