Coronavirus cases may be on decline; child care rules set; new food benefit for needy

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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ) – The state’s coronavirus outbreak may actually be on the decline, although that could change with the gradual economic reopening, Gov. Andy Beshear said Thursday during his daily briefing.

Meanwhile, child care — a critical element in the economic reopening — can begin in tow waves June 8 and June 15, the governor said.

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And also, new benefits for the state’s needy also are becoming available, thanks to $163 million in federal CARES Act funding (see details below).

The child care opening may be the biggest news because of the number of families it impacts and how it dovetails into people returning to work.

Smaller child care centers handling 10 children are less — family-type settings — can open June 8. Larger centers can open June 15. The new rules and guidelines are posted on the state Web site — www.kycovid19.ky.gov.

“This is a safe and balanced approach so we begin to open up more parts of our economy in a responsible manner,” Eric Friedlander, interim director of the Health and Families Cabinet.

At larger facilities, the guidelines include keeping kids in groups of 10 with the same staff throughout the day, have kids over 5 wear masks and even younger ones within reason.

Staff also will wear masks. Centers should cancel field trips and group family events and have centralized drop off and pick-up locations.

All facilities will be required to do health and temperature checks for staff and children.

The rules also will apply to church day cares and Sunday schools, Friedlander said.

The state has paid child care centers more than $62 million since March to try to help them stay in business pending reopening, Friedlander said.

Beshear also announced auctions will start June 1 and horse shows on June 8. Meanwhile, June 29 is the target date for groups of 50 or less, including bars.

“It all depends on how well we do with the healthy at work. Having the dates gives us something to shoot for and reduces some of the anxiety,” Beshear said.

The openings come as numbers for new cases suggest the outbreak may finally actually be on the decline.

Beshear announced 135 new cases, one of the lowest totals in weeks, which brought the state’s total to 8,286 cases since early March. Now, 3,008 patients have recovered. A total of 92 people, down 6 from Wednesday, remain in ICU.

The number of people tested hit 166,240.

“We may be more than plateaued. we may be in an actual reduction,” Beshear said. “We are in a much better place than where we were three weeks ago.

“That could change a little with more contacts as we open up, but we are hopeful.

“This disease is still out there, it’s still real,” Beshear continued, stressing the need to practice safety and health guidelines from social distancing to wearing masks and gloves to washing hands and sanitizing.

Of the new cases, 23 were in Jefferson, 18 in Kenton, 15 in Warren, seven in Fayette, two each in Carlisle, Clark and Franklin, and one each Adair, Bath, Bourbon, Edmonson, Jackson, Lincoln, Nelson, Monroe, and Pulaski counties, among others.

The state also reported 10 deaths, bringing to 386 the number of people who have died from coronavirus-related causes since March.

The numbers included two each from Jefferson, Warren and Oldham counties, with one each in Fayette, Jackson, Adair and Simpson counties.

The one in Jackson County was the county’s 13th, all residents of the Jackson Manor Nursing Home in Annville. It was the first death at the center in two weeks.

During part of April, the center had been a hotspot in the state and was one of the first nursing homes to see a widespread outbreak.

Another important announcement is $313.50 in assistance for low-income families, including people who receive free and reduced priced meals at schools, SNAP and related benefits, and Medicaid.

For people who already have SNAP and other benefit cars, the money will automatically be added. Medicaid recipients will get a card.

People with questions, especially those whose children attend majority free- and reduced-price meal schools can call 855-306-8959 starting next week to ask questions.

The money is from $163 million in CARES benefits, part of the trillions in money Congress has approved in response to the coronavirus outbreak.

According to the governor, the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services (CHFS) Department for Community Based Services (DCBS) and the Kentucky Department of Education are partnering to provide food assistance to families who have lost access to free or reduced-price school meals during the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) emergency.

Beginning May 23, Kentucky families with students who normally receive free or reduced-price meals at school may get financial assistance to replace those meals through the U.S. Department of Agricultures (USDA) Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) program, part of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act.

These parents will be provided some additional benefits so they can use that to feed their children so that they don’t go hungry because they’re missing meals at school, said Friedlander.

Families who already receive assistance can receive P-EBT in addition to other benefits their household may get. Children who already receive SNAP, Kentucky Transitional Assistance Program assistance, Kinship Care or Medicaid will automatically receive P-EBT on their EBT cards and do not need to apply separately.

P-EBT benefits will be added to existing EBT cards no later than May 28.

Families of all other children must complete a short online application and will be mailed an EBT card with instructions on how to activate and use their card.

Apply or get information from June 2 through June 30 at www.benefind.ky.gov or 855-306-8959.

Students who became eligible for free or reduced lunch after March 13 are eligible for P-EBT.

For more information, click here.