Beshear: Don’t foresee extending bar, restaurant, gym mandate

FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ) – Gov. Andy Beshear said Monday he didn’t foresee extending the current limits on bars and restaurants when they run out Dec. 13.

That word came as the governor hinted the state’s number of new cases and percentage increases may be showing signs of stabilizing.

But those indicators and the expected arrival of the first rounds of vaccines in the coming weeks are an even larger call for state residents to continue to follow health and safety guidelines to contain the spread of the virus and get it under some semblance of control, Beshear said.

The governor also said the state might get slightly more vaccines than originally announced but getting the shots to critical populations would take time and require patience across the state.

“We are seeing some early signs we are slowing the exponential growth we have been experiencing…it is a hope,” Beshear said during his daily briefing Monday, noting wearing masks, social distancing and other practices remain even more important to “slow the train down before we can stop it.”

“We don’t foresee extending the executive order…don’t be the one that doesn’t comply,” he continued referring to the restaurant, bar, and gym order which bans in-door dining through Dec. 13.

“We believe the restrictions are working,” he said later, noting when the mandates are lifted, the 50 percent capacity limits would remain.

When asked later about Indiana, Ohio and Michigan keeping their limits and mandates in place longer, Beshear said Kentucky started its limits earlier and he believes the state may be “more motivated” when the steps are lifted. In addition, when the state’s limits are lifted they will only be at or below the capacities in place in those states.

He aslo said the state is developing new guidelines that will allow school districts in red zone counties to have some form of in-person classes after Jan. 4, the datet when all schools are allowed to resume in-person teaching if their incidence rate isn’t in the red catergory.

“We want to make sure they have some real options,” Beshear said, noting school staffs are “scared” and want to feel “safe.”

He said he isn’t lifting the current restrictions on schools like he foresees doing on bars and other businesses because schools have only a few days left before Christmas break and keeping limits in place would help further curb the spread of the virus.

Among the numbers, Beshear said last week’s positivity rate averaged 9.75 percent but the rise over the last four weeks was far lower than the previous four weeks when the rate almost doubled.

The governor reported 1,872 new cases, the lowest Monday in three weeks. Those numbers bring the state’s total to 202,592.

The reported a 9.6 percent positivity rate with 1,700 people in the hospital, 410 in ICU and 210 on ventilators.

He also reported 10 deaths, bringing the state’s total to 2,082.

Those reported lost to the virus include an 89-year-old man from Allen County; a 71-year-old man from Bullitt County; an 89-year-old woman from Graves County; a 77-year-old woman from Greenup County; a 92-year-old woman from Jessamine County; two men, ages 86 and 87, from Johnson County; a 76-year-old man from Marshall County; and a 67-year-old woman and an 81-year-old man from Pike County.

The red zone counties for this week can be found here. Community leaders, businesses, schools and families in these counties should all follow red zone reduction recommendations, as well as other orders and guidance.

To view the full daily report, incidence rate map, new statewide requirements, testing locations, long-term care and other congregate facilities update, school reports and guidance, red zone counties, red zone recommendations, the White House Coronavirus Task Force reports for Kentucky and other key guidance visit,

He said the state continues to watch hospital capacity, including ICU and ventilators, “very carefully” as the surge continues. The data includes watching certain regions which may be hit harder, especially if those regions have fewer beds and ventilators available.

On vaccines, the governor repeated the state expected 38,025 Pfizer doses the week of Dec. 13-19. Those comes in batches of 975.

The week of Dec. 20-26, the state expects to get 76,700 doses of the Moderna vaccine and the week of Dec. 27-31 another 33,800 Moderna doses.

Those doses come in batches of 100 which provide the state more flexibility in distributing them which is important as the state hears cries from more groups who want their members to be among the first vaccinated.

In addition, the state may get more Pfizer does before the end of the month but has not received final word on that from the federal government.

The boosters shots will come three weeks after the Pfizer doses and 30 days after the Moderna shots.

But even with those numbers, it’s only enough to cover nursing home patients and related medical staff and other front line health care workers, the first priority for the shots as the state tries to protect the most vulnerable while at the same time using the vaccine to save lives and control the spread.

“We ask for patience…there’s not going to be enough to go around for everyone at first,” the governor said.

After nursing homes, medical professionals and some first responders, educators — “teachers, custodians, bus driver, cafeteria staffs” — are among the next groups to get the vaccine.

“We can change the game,” he said of being able to get school staffs vaccinated.

He said he may consider adding more money to the current bar and restaurant relief program if more applications come in. As of Monday afternoon, the state had received 3,753 applications for $35 million of the $40 million that has been set aside.

About $12 million already has been sent out, he said.

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