Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear announced that the state will start to reopen non-health care sectors of the economy beginning May 11.
“We’re going to need every industry and every group to stay patient with us,” he said during his Monday briefing, stressing that it will be a gradual lifting of restrictions. “Work can’t be the same when we go back.”
This Phase One reopening will be chunked out “week by week,” Beshear said.
He plans to address, in more detail, what May 11 will look like.
“And every week thereafter, for four weeks, we are going to gradually ease some restrictions, bring some groups and industries back online and give us time to get the right compliance guidelines in place, industry by industry,” he said, adding that May 18, May 25 and June 1 are other key dates for his “Healthy at Work” plan.
As more people return to work, increasing the number of people they come in contact with, the governor said they’ll ask everyone “in every area that we reopen, and in our essential businesses,” to wear cloth masks outside of their homes. He said businesses will need to do regular temperature screenings, continue teleworking when possible and keep a safe distance between employees.
“It’s going to look strange,” he said.
Beshear said other key factors to reopening the economy will be our capacity for testing and contact tracing. There will be 11 different testing sites through the state this week, and he discussed the necessary infrastructure for increasing tracing capacity, announcing 700 additional people to do contact tracing across the state. He also announced that the state will put out a request for proposals this week to recruit private sector partners to help in Kentucky’s contact tracing efforts.
Over the weekend, the governor and Kentucky Public Health Commissioner Steven Stack spoke about the phased reopening of the health care industry. They addressed the issues again Monday night and said they hope to begin Phase Two on May 6, allowing facilities to begin doing outpatient/ambulatory surgery and invasive procedures.
Under the guidelines, health care facilities must do pre-procedure coronavirus testing, and must have a 14-day supply of PPE “based on a 14-day burn rate for the entire facility.”
“In all phases, we expect and urge people to do telehealth” whenever possible, Stack said, adding that if a facility doesn’t have the materials necessary to comply with the rules, they can’t open up.
“This has been a long journey and a lot of sacrifice,” Stack said. “I urge you to not become complacent. Just because the disease right now seems to be at a plateau… it is not time to feel that this is not a serious threat.”
Beshear reported 87 new cases and one new probable case of coronavirus, bringing the state total to 4,146, with a total of 48,799 people tested in Kentucky. He also reported five new deaths and one probable death.
The governor also gave a brief update on unemployment, saying that as of Sunday evening, they’d processed 150,000 backlogged claims, paying out a total of $174 million. He said they will pay out another 70,000 claims from March on Monday, and hope to resolve another 30,000 claims this week.