Gov. chastises Senate; 47 cases now; alcohol deliveries expanded

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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ) – Gov. Beshear chastised the Legislature for putting politics in front of need at the wrong time.

And he said a second child — this one a 6-year-old in Jefferson County — has tested positive for the coronavirus, but child cases remain “extraordinarily rare,” Gov. Andy Beshear said Thursday in his daily 5 p.m. briefing.

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He also said a second person, a 64-year-old man from Jefferson County, has died. The death occurred March 13 and involved a number of factors besides COVID-19, the governor said.

Together, the state now has 47 cases and is seeing an increase in part as more labs get involved in testing. As of Thursday, eight labs are now testing in some form, Beshear said.

Some of the new counties where cases have shown up include a Pulaski, Franklin, Henderson, Warren, Christian, Kenton, and Davies counties, he said.

One of the cases is a state employee but with 30,000 employees, that is not surprising, he said.

He also said the state is adjusting some income guidelines for unemployment and inequalities that impact bar and restaurant staffs.

“This is a test of whether we can be a good neighbor to each other,” the governor said, advising citizens to not get caught up in fear.

“I know nervousness is out there. Things like the National Guard lockdown coming are not true. Nothing like that is coming,” he said.

He also urged call centers to do more to protect workers, keep them at a distance and work from home when possible.

He also encouraged all medical professionals, even dentists and eye doctors, to shut down elective surgeries.

“This is the challenge of our lifetime and we need the health care capacity available,” he said.

He also said bars and restaurants who are continuing delivery and take out now will be able to deliver alcohol as part of that.

He reiterated all the closings, from bingo halls to bank lobbies.

And he stressed the grocery and food chains are sound.

Among new things, all “social gatherings” are closed, from churches to festivals to similar events. Some exemptions have been allowed and are listed on the state’s web site — kycovid19.ky.gov.

“We will have guidelines on the state Web site about delivering alcohol. There will be some guidelines,” he said.

Beshear responded to the Legislature’s decision to stay on a limited basis.

“I am extremely disappointed in the version of the budget I saw from the Senate…which included a cut to Medicaid, a cut to every child having Medicaid, a cut to teacher health care for the next couple of years. We cannot make those kinds of decisions,” he said.

“What I saw was an attempt to get back at political adversaries, specifically teachers, that is mean and it is wrong,” he continued, chastising Senate Republicans.

“That’s not leadership, that’s taking advantage,” he continued.

As for a provision to take $1.3 billion from the tension pension system unless structural changes are made, he repeated previous statements.

“It’s just not right.”

He also said he state is looking at extending the deadline for tax filing and following in line with federal guidelines.

“I don’t have firm announcement on extending tax-filing deadlines and payments, but we are working on it. Everyone who can, I hope they will because we will need every dollar,” he said.

He also said people are reaching out to state government about employers that aren’t following recommended guidelines. He encouraged them to continue and encouraged employers to play along.

“If you are an employer who is not doing it, you must. Don’t put people in harm’s way,” he said, referencing a Pike County bingo center he had to act on Wednesday.

He did the same to other larger industries.

As for hairstylists and others who aren’t eligible for unemployment, he encouraged them to apply for Medicaid and they are working on other changes to provide them benefits and economic protections, he said.

As for evictions and homeless people, he said evictions shouldn’t be going on and he is prepared to take executive action to block them if he has to.

“We are not living through normal times,” he said, encouraging landlords and courts to halt the practice.

The state has loosened restrictions on tele-health so more can be done to provide health services that way. It’s already opened it up to Medicaid and it is working with private insurance to expand the option.

He said the state is not going to “be arresting people” for violating social gatherings and other limits.

“That’s not what we want to be doing, we need folks to need to be willing to take the right steps. It’s just about people’s duty,” he stated.