Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear announced $300 million in CARES Act funding for city and county governments that will go out starting Thursday morning.
During his Wednesday briefing, he said the money will reimburse local governments for expenses they accrued from the pandemic, such as personal protective equipment, or PPE, purchased for health and safety workers, costs from disinfecting public spaces and buildings, and payroll expenses for public workers responding to the crisis.
“You do not have the success we’ve had against COVID-19 without strong local leaders and the expenses that they put into it,” Beshear said.
The Department for Local Government will administer the funds through an application process, and the governor said the money will be distributed “through a formula based on population that is available to each county and each city.”
“We hope that this is just an initial amount that we’ll be providing to these local governments,” he said.
Later in the briefing, he followed up on that and expressed his hope that Congress would swiftly pass another relief package.
“Every city and county will tell you, without additional CARES Act funding to help them out, our recession will be deeper and there will be very serious cuts,” he said, adding that would impact public employees across the state and services that governments provide. “We need Congress to do this. The longer we wait, the more harmful it can be.”
Beshear said he didn’t yet have an exact number of what Kentucky would need in terms of another round of federal aid.
Ready For A Second Spike?
When asked whether Kentucky hospitals would be ready for another spike in cases, Beshear said he’s “encouraged at the fact that the number of days that it’s taken to stabilize people are a lot lower than was ever anticipated.”
“Our orders on loosening up health care require them to be ready [for a second spike], requires them to house a certain amount of PPE, requires a certain amount of open bed capacity,” he said. “I believe our goal is to have 120-days supply of PPE at the state level that we can get out there. So I do believe that we will be ready but nobody knows what the second spike would look like.”
He said they’ll watch the data and will make changes or hit the pause button if and when needed. He also noted that Warren County hospitals are presently “pretty full, more than we would like.”
The governor reported 166 new cases of coronavirus in Kentucky. The state is now at 8,167, which includes 108 probable cases. Beshear said another 10 Kentuckians died from the virus.
The governor responded to a new report by a health care company that rural counties in Kentucky lack adequate testing.
“There is a testing site within 30, 45 minutes at most… I don’t think there is an exception to that,” he said, clarifying that there might be some Mississippi River counties with residents who would have a longer drive.
“We have the capability of testing anyone, anywhere now. Our issue as we move forward is that we need people to be willing to get tested,” he said.
Beshear said there’s no expected timeline yet for reopening long-term facilities for visitors.
“This is really harmful to our seniors,” he said.
His administration is looking at college sports for the fall, but they don’t have details yet because it’s “going to be a real challenge when we look at the fall or any time without a vaccine.”
Games without fans are something he’s weighing, but he thinks it’s too early to make a call.
“Some sports have a lot of contact too,” Beshear said. “I want to be really cognizant that these are student athletes. They’re not paid professionals and we want to make sure that it is safe for them.”
In regards to retail reopening Wednesday, the government said he’d like to see at least two weeks of data before determining whether they can increase capacity there.