Frankfort, KY – Gov. Andy Beshear on Monday announced several new measures to stem the rising number of cases of the novel coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) in the commonwealth.
“At a time when Kentucky is dealing with a surge in the coronavirus, knowing where other states have gone and knowing what it takes to stop it from happening here, let’s remember that we’re going to get through this, and we’re going to get through this together, but it’s going to require us to do what’s necessary,” the Governor said. “Wherever you live in Kentucky, the virus is spreading. Our state government and the federal administration have significant agreement on what we need to do right now to make sure we don’t turn into Florida, Texas, Arizona, so many other states going through what could be absolutely devastating for them.”
So, today Gov. Beshear announced the following steps:
Bars will be closed for two weeks, effective tomorrow, Tuesday, July 28.
Restaurants will be limited to 25% of pre-pandemic capacity indoors; outdoor accommodations remain limited only by the ability to provide proper social distancing.
Public and private schools are being asked to avoid offering in-person instruction until the third week of August.
To view the order from the Cabinet for Health and Family Services covering the new restrictions, which goes into effect at midnight tonight, click here: 20200728_CHFS-Order (PDF).
The Governor and the Kentucky Department for Public Health will monitor case numbers over the next two weeks with the goal of reopening bars and restoring restaurant capacity after that time.
“Let me say, there are a lot of really responsible bar owners out there, and I hate requiring this for them. They are paying for the actions of others, and it’s not fair, but this virus isn’t fair either,” the Governor said. “On restaurants, again, they can do unlimited outdoor seating as long as they can sufficiently spread guests out under social distancing guidelines, and we are going to work with our cities and localities to do what we need to do administratively to allow that outside seating to expand. This is going to hurt a lot of restaurants. But the White House modeling shows that this is absolutely necessary to control the spread at this time when we either become the next Florida, or we get it under control and save the lives of our people and protect our economy.”
Gov. Beshear noted that all of today’s actions were conceived through and backed by guidance from the White House. He said we are currently at a point seen in Florida and Arizona before both of those states saw their cases grow to a point that has threatened their health care infrastructure, which puts even more lives in danger.
Dr. Steven Stack, commissioner of the Kentucky Department for Public Health, highlighted the fact that our fate is in all of our hands when it comes to fighting the coronavirus.
“This is not outside of our control. Our actions can have a positive impact. One point I want to emphasize is that it’s not politics if you have President Trump and Governor Beshear making the same recommendations. It’s not politics. This is science. If we work together through this, we can succeed,” Dr. Stack said. “Back when we were Healthy at Home, we crushed the curve. … But when we started lifting restrictions, our mobility went right back to normal. So now, if you want to keep Kentucky open and keep your loved ones safe, wear a mask.”
Gov. Beshear noted that he was joined Sunday in Frankfort by Dr. Deborah Birx, response coordinator for the White House’s Coronavirus Task Force. Dr. Birx advised that the growth in Kentucky’s COVID-19 cases and, especially, the commonwealth’s rising test positivity rate is cause not just for concern, but for immediate action. Dr. Birx specifically recommended that the Kentucky’s bars close and indoor dining capacity be limited.
“We are in an escalation of cases, where our positivity rate also continues to increase. This virus is now escalating and spreading so much statewide that statewide action is necessary. That’s the opinion of the Trump administration, and that’s the position of this state government. It’s every expert on the federal level and at our state level,” said Gov. Beshear.
Even before Dr. Birx’s visit, Gov. Beshear and his administration officials were making targeted moves to stop the spread of the virus in Kentucky. Last Monday, Gov. Beshear’s administration issued a new travel advisory that recommends a 14-day self-quarantine for Kentuckians who travel to states and U.S. territories that are reporting a positive coronavirus testing rate equal to or greater than 15%. For an updated list of areas meeting that threshold, click here. In addition, the Cabinet for Health and Family Services issued a new order pulling back the guidance on non-commercial gatherings to allow only for meet-ups of 10 or fewer people.
Gov. Beshear said his new recommendation for schools is the only path toward getting, eventually, back to in-person instruction.
“By waiting until the third week of August, we believe it gives us a chance to get this thing under better control, to get more people wearing that facial covering and to get us in a place where we can handle this in a much better way,” said Gov. Beshear. “My concern is if schools start before this, we’ll see cases in schools. And if we see a lot of early cases in schools, it will be harder to get all of our schools open for in-person classes in some way that works for those families.”
Case Information – Monday, July 27
As of 4 p.m. July 27, Gov. Beshear said there were at least 27,601 coronavirus cases in Kentucky, 522 of which were newly reported Monday. Twenty-one of the newly reported cases were from children ages 5 and younger, including a 4-month-old from Jessamine County and a 9-month-old from Bullitt County.
Unfortunately, Gov. Beshear reported nine new deaths Monday, raising the total to 709 Kentuckians lost to the virus.
The deaths reported Monday include a 74-year-old woman from Bell County; four men, ages 70, 71, 82 and 98, and three women, ages 61, 76 and 84, from Jefferson County; and 61-year-old man from Livingston County.
“I don’t want to be a state where casket-makers are running out of their caskets, that they’re loaded into 18-wheelers to come to us. I don’t want to be a state that has to order one of these freezer trucks because their morgues run out of space. I don’t want to be a state that runs out of ICU beds and one of your loved ones doesn’t have space. I don’t want to be a state where a doctor has to look at 10 young people, knowing they have three ventilators, and possibly make a decision on who lives and who dies,” said Gov. Beshear. “By taking action right now, we can keep all of that from happening.”
As of Monday, there have been at least 588,926 coronavirus tests performed in Kentucky. The positivity rate currently stands at 5.58%. At least 7,466 Kentuckians have recovered from the virus.