Health

The state has released safety guidance for Kentucky daycares to reopen next month. 

According to the guidance, in-home child care programs can resume June 8 and licensed child care centers June 15.

Secretary of the Cabinet for Health and Family Services Eric Friedlander spoke on the issue during the governor’s Thursday briefing. He said child care has been a much-talked about issue because it’s “one of those areas that we know is critical to opening the economy, critical to parents, has been critical to our essential workers.”

That’s why the state has issued nearly $62 million to daycares around the state since March, the secretary said, to ensure that facilities survive this crisis. 

The new guidance requires safety measures like staggered playground time, doing away with family events and field trips, limiting groups of children to 10 or fewer, a centralized drop-off and pick-up location, and everyone older than 5 must wear a mask. This will apply to houses of worship operating child care as well.

“That’s always a balance between protecting ourselves, our families and being able to go back and be healthy at work,” Friedlander said. 

Later in the briefing, he said these requirements will put “some limits on capacity” for child care businesses, though he didn’t have an exact number on just how much. And he anticipates that restrictions will be in place until “we get out of the emergency, till we get to a better place.”

Friedlander also spoke about a new benefit for families to make sure that “children don’t go hungry.” 

The Pandemic Electronic Benefits Transfer, or P-EBT, is a federal food assistance program for kids who would have received free or reduced lunch in school. Friedlander said Kentucky received about $163 million for this program, which was authorized under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA).

Friedlander said those already receiving benefits like SNAP should see the funds automatically added to their cards. He said “some folks who get free or reduced meals” can also apply.

“When you apply for these benefits, it’s not just you as the individual that benefits,” he said. “It’s your grocers, it’s your local businesses, it’s the entire food system in Kentucky that benefits.” 

More Reopening Announcements

During the briefing, Gov. Andy Beshear also announced some additional industries that can begin reopening in June.  

On June 1, auctions can get back to work, and June 29 is the new “target date” for bars to reopen, as well as gatherings up to 50 people. 

Voting By Mail

Beshear said the president’s aversion to voting by mail has not dissuaded him from his stance on the issue

“We’re set for the primary… I guess we’ll see about the general after that,” he said. 

Beshear believes the absentee ballot “will be the safest way to vote here in June and we want people to vote.” He said he’ll be watching to see what voting by mail does for turnout in the June primary. 

“My hope is that we see maybe more turnout based on that,” he said.

The governor also answered a quick question about medical professionals having to reuse their N95 masks. He said that’s “an area of PPE that’s still a challenge,” and that they are optimistic about methods of cleaning those masks to prolong their usage.

Beshear reported another 135 new cases of coronavirus in Kentucky. 

“We may be in true reduction in what we’re seeing about the spread,” Beshear said. “Now that may change a little because we have more contacts.”

As of Thursday evening, there are 8,286 positive cases of coronavirus in Kentucky and 166,240 tests have been conducted, he said. 

Beshear said another 10 Kentuckians died from COVID-19, bringing the total number of deaths to 386.

As always, the governor urged people to light their homes up green: “We can’t get tired of doing this piece, of letting people know that we care about them.”

Stephanie Wolf is WFPL's Arts Reporter.