Gov. Andy Beshear rolled out a phased reopening plan Wednesday for Kentucky businesses and others.
Beginning in May, certain businesses will be allowed to reopen or expand their services if they follow the governor’s guidelines.
Phase I begins May 11 and includes manufacturing, construction, vehicle or vessel dealerships, professional services, horse racing (without fans) and dog grooming/boarding.
On May 20, retail and houses of worship may reopen to limited in-person services, which Beshear said will likely be a percentage of the total occupancy that is allowed.
Reopening of in-person services at religious entities will include “just the worship service itself,” Beshear said. He said the state is working with faith leaders on a gradual schedule to reopen other services such as Sunday school.
On May 25, social gatherings with a maximum of 10 people may resume, along with in-person services at barbers, salons, cosmetology businesses and “similar services.”
In order to reopen, however, Beshear said all businesses must do the following:
- continue telework where possible.
- phased return to work.
- onsite temperature/health checks.
- have universal masks and other necessary personal protective equipment.
- close common areas.
- enforce social distancing.
- limit face-to-face meetings.
- have sanitizer/hand wash stations.
- provide special accommodations
- have a testing plan.
Beshear noted that certain businesses will have specific guidelines based on their operations, which he hopes to have finalized by Monday.
Gyms will reportedly be included in Phase II, which does not yet have set dates, and child day care may reopen in June, along with some youth sports.
“I hope people will see this as a way forward … and that these are cautious steps that are going to be done with strict compliance,” he said. “And if it proves that we can’t do any of them safely, it is always subject to pause. We cannot allow ourselves to have that second spike (in cases).”
Reopening proposals “are encouraged” to be submitted to the state via kycovid19.ky.gov but are not required, according to the website.
Earlier this week, certain services at health care facilities were able to reopen in the state as part of the first wave of Beshear’s “Healthy at Work” plan.
In a change of venue Wednesday, Beshear held his daily briefing at the Kentucky Emergency Management Center in Frankfort, where he confirmed 4,539 total coronavirus cases statewide, 184 of which were new.
Of those, 1,668 people have reportedly recovered, 325 are currently hospitalized and 176 are in intensive care. He noted that one case included in Wednesday’s report is probable.
“We are not seeing an escalation day-over-day, which means we are either at the top on the plateau, or we could potentially be declining – we won’t know that until we are (further) into it,” he said.
He also said 10 more Kentuckians died because of the virus, raising the death toll statewide to 235. He said there is one probable virus-related death.
The Barren River District Health Department said Wednesday evening there are 500 total cases in its eight-county region, including 319 in Warren County, 93 in Butler, 25 in Simpson, 31 in Edmonson, 16 in Barren, eight in Logan, seven in Hart and one in Metcalfe. Of those 500 people, 109 have reportedly recovered.
The death toll in the Bowling Green region remains at seven – one in Warren County, two in Simpson County and four in Butler County – according to the health department.
In his briefing Wednesday, Beshear mentioned a 56-year-old woman from Warren County who died from the virus, which is likely the death previously reported by the local health department Monday.
The Allen County Health Department, which is not part of the Barren River region, reported at least 16 confirmed cases.
Meanwhile, the Kentucky Department of Public Health’s COVID-19 Dashboard said Wednesday evening that there are 313 cases in Warren, 114 in Butler, 27 in Simpson, 19 in Edmonson, 12 in Allen, 6 in Barren, eight in Logan, and three in Hart. KDPH reports often differ from those of local health departments because of different reporting methods.
Social distancing measures imposed weeks ago by the state have spared Kentucky from a dramatically higher outbreak of coronavirus cases, according to a new study.
Based on the study’s model, confirmed COVID-19 cases statewide would have reached nearly 45,000 by April 25 without any state-mandated measures. Actual cases were under 4,000 at that point.
“In other words, the state’s restrictions have prevented more than 90 percent of confirmed cases that would have otherwise occurred,” the report said.
Based on the state’s COVID-19 fatality rate, the restrictions saved about 2,000 lives so far, according to a study from the Institute for the Study of Free Enterprise at the University of Kentucky.
Kentucky’s “Healthy at Home” initiative and closures of restaurant dining areas, bars, gyms and other entertainment facilities were particularly effective at preventing COVID-19 infections, the study said.
“These results suggest that Kentucky policymakers should be cautious when opening up the economy,” said Charles Courtemanche, one of the study’s co-authors.
– The Associated Press contributed to this report.