Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear said the state is modifying its child care facilities safety guidance to both accommodate the growing need among families, but also as a “harm reduction effort” after seeing businesses letting children into their spaces to do their nontraditional instruction, or NTI.
“That’s not a system of safety,” he said about the latter during his Monday briefing.
Secretary Eric Friedlander with the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, went into the specifics of the changes to the state’s emergency child care regulations.
“We recognize it’s been a difficult time for child care providers, for parents, and we want to make sure that we support the adequate capacity and access to child care,” Friedlander said, going on to explain that it’s been “a learning curve” in how child care facilities should operate during the pandemic.
He said prior to COVID-19, families already faced challenges with finding affordable and accessible child care, “and what COVID has done is exacerbate those very deserts.”
To “support additional capacity,” Friedlander said they’re offering incentive money via the CARES ACT in the amount of $2,500, as seed money for new child care providers.
“As people begin this nontraditional instruction, we also know that in this whole continuum of child care in Kentucky, we have very few of these smaller registered and certified [providers], and what we hope is that people, as they experience this NTI, this working together, that they may want to become a registered or certified child care provider,” he said.
The state is also providing guidance to parents forming NTI “pods,” by helping with background checks on providers and enforcing safety requirements, like mask wearing, good hygiene and planning for when someone tests positive for coronavirus. He also announced that the state was increasing the max allowance of children in groups at licensed facilities to 15, and certified home-based child care and licensed infant and one-year-old centers are allowed to go back to standard class sizes.
Later in the briefing, Friedlander clarified that the state is “encouraging” but not requiring people to register these NTI pods. He sees it as a “pathway” to ongoing child care.
During the briefing, Beshear reported 381 new coronavirus cases, 43 of which are kids 18 or younger. The newly-reported cases brought the state’s total to 48,396, after duplicates were removed, the governor said. He reported the positivity rate as 4.42%.
“We always have lower numbers on Sundays and Mondays, due to lab closures over the weekend,” Beshear said.
Citing the latest White House report, Beshear said 59 of Kentucky’s 120 counties are in the red or yellow zone, as he urged people to “not act like everything is normal during a health pandemic.”
“When we talk about groups of 10 or less, that’s important for Labor Day, that’s important for Derby,” Beshear said. “And when you say, ‘how can you do this?’ I’m not doing it. COVID’s doing it.”
Dr. Steven Stack, the state’s public health commissioner, also took to the podium Monday night to address reporter questions about controversial statements made by a new White House pandemic advisor. Scott Atlas is advocating herd immunity as the approach to beat the pandemic, according to the Washington Post.
Stack had strong words about that kind of strategy, saying it’s not only dangerous, but “irresponsible” and could result in the death of 1.6 to 2.3 million Americans based on the theory that at least 70% of the population would have to get the virus to reach herd immunity.
“It’s a failure of leadership. It’s the kind of language that shouldn’t be coming out of a serious, educated professional in that role at the national level,” he said. “So anyone who’s advocating herd immunity, who’s in a position of leadership, probably should not be in that position of leadership.”
Gov. Beshear also reported three new deaths. To date, 933 Kentuckians have died from the virus, he said.