Gov. Andy Beshear announced Thursday that the state travel ban will expire May 22 and that gatherings of 10 people or fewer may also resume that same day.
“We realize that people are making plans for Memorial Day, and I trust that we can do this right, and we can do this safely,” he said during his daily briefing in Frankfort.
The previous date for resuming such gatherings had been May 25, which is Memorial Day.
The travel ban was put in place March 30 to restrict out-of-state travel except for work, groceries, caring for loved ones, health care reasons and when required by a court order. Those traveling outside the state for reasons other than those exceptions are required to self-quarantine for 14 days. The order didn’t have an expiration date.
Beshear said he’s “got to live in the real world” knowing that Memorial Day is three days after May 22. He said he is not seeing “the same type of exodus” in virus hot spots in other states as he was before.
Meanwhile, Beshear announced 199 new coronavirus cases statewide, 32 of which are probable, bringing the total to 7,225. Of those, 2,712 have reportedly recovered and 385 are hospitalized, 220 of whom are in intensive care.
The state’s death toll rose to 328 with two newly announced virus-related deaths.
The Barren River Area Development District’s COVID-19 Dashboard, which uses data from the state Department of Public Health, showed 1,185 cases Thursday in BRADD’s 10-county region. Those cases include 730 in Warren, 205 in Butler, 77 in Logan, 46 in Edmonson, 35 in Simpson, 34 in Barren, 33 in Allen, 16 in Hart, six in Monroe and three in Metcalfe.
The Barren River District Health Department announced 1,071 total cases in its eight-county area in a news release Thursday.
The 1,071 cases include 677 in Warren, 191 in Butler, 46 in Edmonson, 75 in Logan, 33 in Simpson, 27 in Barren, 19 in Hart and three in Metcalfe. Of the 1,071 cases, 375 have reportedly recovered. The department has reported 20 deaths to date, including six in Butler, eight in Edmonson and two apiece in Warren, Simpson and Logan.
There are at least 39 confirmed cases in Allen County, according to the 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 was asked if he is concerned about people not returning to work because they are receiving more income on unemployment than they would at their job. Kentuckians who qualify for unemployment can currently receive up to $552 per week from the state and an additional $600 weekly payment from the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act.
“The extra unemployment during COVID-19 is something that we all should support ... (because) people are struggling just to get by,” he said. “I don’t think we are going to see this as an issue. I think there’s certainly going to be a lot of people out there that can fill those jobs.”
Lt. Gov. Jacqueline Coleman also discussed $43.7 million in CARES Act funds awarded to the state Education and Workforce Development Cabinet. She said the money will all go toward education – including $30 million to K-12 technology assistance and programs – and the rest will be distributed by the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education.
“There are over 500,000 students across Kentucky who 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,” said Coleman, who previously served as an assistant principal.
Bowling Green has received an additional $98,376 in CARES Act funding, according to a news release from U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. To date, organizations in the city have received more than $14.4 million in relief funding, the release said.
“The Senate took bold action to support communities battling the coronavirus crisis, and I’m proud Bowling Green is receiving this vital assistance,” McConnell said in a statement. “These federal resources can help Kentuckians on the front lines protect themselves while keeping families and communities safe.”
– Follow multimedia journalist Emily Zantow on Twitter @EmilyZantowNews or visit bgdailynews.com.