Health

Gov. Andy Beshear says Indiana is reopening too quickly during the coronavirus pandemic, and that Kentuckians still shouldn’t travel to surrounding states unless it’s necessary.

Starting Monday, Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb allowed people across most of the state to gather in groups of up to 25 and eased restrictions on non-essential manufacturing and retail businesses, allowing them to operate at 50 percent capacity.

Kentucky plans to allow non-essential businesses in industries like construction, manufacturing, boat and auto sales and office-based business to reopen starting May 11. Social gatherings of ten people or fewer won’t be allowed until May 25th.

During his daily press conference on Monday, Beshear defended Kentucky’s gradual roll out as the right way to go.

“I think less of the competitive disadvantage — because we’re maybe a couple of weeks behind — and more about the health risk that may be imposed,” Beshear said.

“That concept that just because somebody else is doing it that you should, during a worldwide health pandemic? I’m not buying that. I’m going to protect our people.”

Kentucky and Indiana are part of a group of several states coordinating their coronavirus responses, though decisions about when to ease restrictions is left up to individual governors.

Louisville metro’s chamber of commerce, Greater Louisville Inc., criticized the difference in Indiana and Kentucky’s reopening efforts as “disjointed” in a statement on Monday.

“Our families, workers and businesses need consistency for this regional economy and do not view the Ohio River as the line we are being asked to stay behind. GLI calls on Governors Beshear and Holcomb to identify coordinated solutions between the two states to ensure Greater Louisville is best positioned for reopening,” GLI president Sarah Davasher-Wisdom wrote in a statement.

Beshear announced 163 new coronavirus cases in Kentucky on Monday, for a total of 5,245. There were 8 new deaths reported, for a total of 261.

Beshear also announced that there are at least 120 coronavirus cases and one death at Green River Correctional Complex in Central City, following an effort to test all inmates and staff at the state-run prison.

Executive Cabinet Secretary J. Michael Brown said the state has started dividing the prison population into different buildings, isolating people who have tested positive for the virus, people who have tested negative from the virus but have come in contact with someone who tested positive and those who have tested negative and not come in contact with a positive case.

A fourth building will be used to house people considered medically vulnerable.

Brown said the state has released more than 1,200 prisoners who were near the end of their sentences for non-violent and non-sexual convictions.

Ryland Barton is the Capitol bureau chief for Kentucky Public Radio.