FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ) – Calling the reopening process in the state and across the country a “large social experiment” and we will “see the results,” Kentucky leaders Monday continued to push restraint as the economic reopening nears on several fronts.
Meanwhile, Gov. Andy Beshear announced 163 new cases, which is in line with the flattening of cases across the state, and eight new deaths.
The deaths brought the state total to 261. Of the deaths, six were in Jefferson County.
The new cases pushed the state total to 5,245 with 60,046 people tested statewide. Of the new cases, 34 are in Jefferson County, nine in Fayette, and one each in Bourbon, Harrison, Madison and Rockcastle counties, among others.
The focus of Beshear’s daily briefing Monday was on the reopenings that are coming and he continued health risks faced by Kentuckians. He also praised the role local companies are playing in making the reopenings, however moderate, possible, from testing labs to distilleries and the state’s chamber providing PPEs so small businesses can meet opening guidelines.
“This is like a large social experiment and we will see the results with things opening up in different states,”Public Health Commissioner Dr. Steven Stack said.
Phase 2 of reopening f parts of the health care industry arrives Wednesday with many elective and out-patient procedures, ranging from dental and eye procedures to knee surgeries allowed with certain conditions.
Some segments of the business sector, including construction, manufacturing and distribution, some office services, car and boat dealers and pet services, can reopen May 11.
Retail and worship come May 20 and barbers, cosmetologists and gatherings of up to 10 people arrive May 25.
Guidelines for reopening restaurants and government will be released within 10 days with target dates in June, Beshear said.
Small businesses preparing to open can buy masks through a state web site as part of an agreement with the state chamber of commerce. The first shipments of those masks will go out Tuesday, Beshear said.
The state distillery association also already has provided 150,000 gallons of sanitizer and is producing even more. Small businesses can tap into that supply, Beshear said, noting the “Kentucky businesses have been stepping up and coming through.”
“Our accomplishments will be ours,” he said of the role f state-based companies.
And avoiding the rush to reopen continues to be a priority.
“If we reopen in a rush an then have to close everything down again because of a spike, we have done more long-term harm than good,” Beshear stated.
He cited headlines from other states, including Mississippi, which had planned to reopen on a broad sale Monday only to back off after seeing a big spike in cases Friday.
“We are trying to make the best, smartest decisions that protects you, your parents, your kids. I don’t want to be the fastest, but we want to try to be the smartest,” he stated.
“Cases aren’t escalating in Kentucky because of the steps you have taken. But it’s not gone, it’s still here and it’s still deadly, it’s still very scary,” he said.
The state will have 17 public testing sites from east to west this week, offering the broadest availability yet. It puts the state on target to meet its goal of being able to test at least two percent of the population as part of its reopening benchmarks. The total will be closer to 3 percent.
And Friday, the state will accept proposals for contact tracing people who test positive for the coronavirus. The state hopes to hire 600 people as part f the process, Beshear said, with those workers supplementing local health departments.
The contact tracing program is being paid for by federal funds.