Jul 27, 2020
Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear COVID-19 Briefing Transcript July 27
Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear held his July 27 press conference. Beshear announced the closure of Kentucky bars and will limit indoor restaurant capacity for two weeks. He also said schools shouldn’t open until the 3rd week of August. Read the full speech transcript of all updates here.
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Gov. Andy Beshear: (05:51)
Doing alright? Good. All right It is Monday at four o’clock. And at a time when Kentucky is dealing with a surge in the coronavirus, knowing where other States have gone and knowing what it takes to stop it from happening here. Given that we’re dealing with this potential surge and the ramifications it could have just remember that we’re going to make it, and we’re going to get through this and we’re going to get through it together, but it’s going to require us to take some steps and to do what’s necessary.
Gov. Andy Beshear: (06:33)
We all have to start out with believing and understanding that this is real, that the virus doesn’t just go away and that wherever you live in Kentucky, and you can look at the maps, the virus is spreading and spreading significantly in your community. We all need to be singing from the same sheet of music. And what we’ll be able to talk about today is certainly our state government and the federal administration have significant agreement on what we need to do right now to make sure we don’t turn into Florida, Texas, Arizona, so many other States we see going through what could be absolutely devastating for them. Let’s start with what we’re seeing in the United States.
Gov. Andy Beshear: (07:19)
I mean, look at that. If that doesn’t convince you how fast this virus is spreading, I don’t know what will. A significant escalation we’ve now seen Florida passed New York in total cases. We are seeing over a thousand deaths, I think in a single day in another Southern state. And what we are seeing is that it is growing and it is hitting more states than just those three that ran out to thousand plus cases each and every day. The difficulties of those States that have been hit, the hardest in this new wave are so difficult. You see Florida now becoming the state that has had the most COVID-19 cases since this began. And you see over a thousand fatalities in Texas in just six days, we do not want this to happen in this state. But we know looking back that at one point Florida and Texas, were just where we are today. With cases that were increasing some with seeing more activity out there.
Gov. Andy Beshear: (08:34)
And right now we can look at what’s happened to them and know that we absolutely have to act. And on Sunday with Dr. Stack and I sitting on one side of the table and having a conversation with Dr. Brix, she actually looked at us and said the conversation we’re having right now, we had with Florida and weeks before the worst of the worst happened. Now is the time for us to act. And as we look at Kentucky and its increase, while we have had days that have had significant numbers, and we’ve had days that have decreased some the line and the trend is undeniable. We are in an escalation of cases where our positivity rate also continues to increase. And the steps that we’re going to have to take, we can see in the numbers, but we can also see sadly and even our activity and some things that are going on, even in the midst of what we know is an escalation.
Gov. Andy Beshear: (09:41)
We were sent some pictures from downtown Lexington, from Saturday night, hundreds of people, way closer than six feet, not a mask in this picture at all. You can go to the next one. Again, people huddled together, acting like this isn’t real. And unfortunately not following, I don’t think a single guideline that we’ve put in place. And it’s unfortunate. It’s unfortunate and there’s plenty of blame to go around. There’s an issue of a proprietor owner that would let this happen at their facility. There’s blame on the individuals that show up, see people not following any of the regulations and know I’m certain, know that the virus can and should be spreading in that situation, but go anyways. And then there’s been not enough enforcement out there. And we can admit to that. The enforcement’s obviously a difficult thing, but knowing that this is happening is going to require steps that we have seen in other cases.
Gov. Andy Beshear: (10:51)
So on Sunday, we had Dr. Deborah Birx, who is the response coordinator for the White House coronavirus task force. And if you can put that up, we had some very candid discussions. The first is that they and we agree that with over 74 counties in their red or yellow zone, that this virus is now escalating and spreading so much statewide, that statewide action is necessary. That’s the position of the Trump administration, that’s position of this state government. It’s every expert on the federal level and on our state level, that believes that this moment that there are too many counties out there where this virus is escalating. And as Dr. Birx has talked about people traveling in between them, they’ve looked at the data on that, but we see it. We know just cause you live one County doesn’t mean that you don’t work in another one.
Gov. Andy Beshear: (11:56)
And your place of business may have different employees, different vendors coming in and out from many other counties. None of us live in a County where the only people who interact are simply from that County, we also agree on steps that have to be taken. So the White House believes and has the modeling to show that four steps are necessary for a state that is escalating. They are the steps that they recommended in Texas and Arizona. And they are the steps that both they, and we believe that if we take right now, we can not become a Florida, a Texas, an Arizona. Remember when your cases hit that level, significant death follows. I don’t want to be a state where casket makers are running out of their caskets, so that they’re loading on 18 wheelers to come to us. That’s happening right now in other States, I don’t want to be a state that has to order one of these freezer trucks, because our morgues run out of space.
Gov. Andy Beshear: (13:02)
I don’t want to be a state that runs out of ICU beds. And one of your loved ones doesn’t have space. I don’t want to be a state where a doctor has to look at 10 young people knowing they have three ventilators and make a decision and possibly who lives and who dies. By taking action right now, we can keep all of that from happening. And my commitment, regardless of the pressures that are out there are to make the decisions that save lives, that protect our economy. And that will ultimately give the best chance to get our kids back in school at some point and all of those decisions are interconnected. Whether or not our economy can continue to stay open and flourished depends on our ability to control the virus. The number of people who die is based on our ability to control the virus, getting our kids back in school is based on our ability to control this virus.
Gov. Andy Beshear: (13:56)
So now it’s time to do the things that we got to do given the stage that we’re in to control this virus. And I know there ended up being questions out there about why didn’t you take this step four weeks ago or six weeks ago? Listen, this virus doesn’t care about our schedules, not one bit. And as it changes, we’ve got to change. We’re not dealing with some virus, I mean that cares about the difficulties that it creates with us, but we know enough about it to know our response, even when our response may be difficult. So the White House has recommended, and we agreed that four steps need to be taken. Two of which we have already started. And I think we might be starting to see somewhat of an impact in.
Gov. Andy Beshear: (14:42)
The first is the requirement that we wear a facial covering and that’s everybody. And again, if you are in an area where you think statewide steps should be taken, guess what the fastest way to reduce your numbers is to enforce this. And if we see large groups of people together that aren’t wearing facial coverings, then they are thwarting the progress and they are thwarting the sacrifice that so many others are making. Remember every individual’s actions can impact the life of another Kentucky. Every individual’s actions can impact our ability to keep our economy open. And if you’re at a local Speedway with 4,000 people in the stands, none of which are wearing masks, you’re going to make it real hard to get your kids back in school in the area that you’re in. That’s how things spread.
Gov. Andy Beshear: (15:33)
So we’ve taken two actions. The first one we’re starting to see better and better compliance. It’s the number one step that the Trump administration and our state public health believes we need to take right now. And that’s the facial covering mandate. Number two is limiting social and noncommercial gatherings to 10 people or fewer. You should not have more than 10 people over in your backyard, in your basement. We’ve really got a control house parties. It’s an area that we absolutely see spread and where people let their guards down. We need to do a better job of this and folks, if you’re having more than 10 people over right now, you’re exposing yourself and your family to COVID-19. So please help us out with this one. Now, if you want to have 20 people over, have 10 over one week, space it out and have 10 over the next week. What that means is if somebody gets the virus, we can contain it within those 10 people. It also means statistically, it’s less likely to be there in the room when you’re having people over.
Gov. Andy Beshear: (16:36)
The next two steps are steps we are taking effective tomorrow. They are steps that have been taken in other states. Again, they are backed by the federal administration. First, we’re going to require bars to close for two weeks effective Tuesday, July 28th. Our hope is after those two weeks that we can reopen, though, we are going to have some new stricter guidelines. I’ll give you one example. We actually had a seat rule inside the first set of guidelines, and we are going to have that and enforce that over the coming weeks with restaurants or bars that serve food and may stay open. So can you go back to the picture?
Gov. Andy Beshear: (17:20)
Here’s what we need. If we’re going to operate these types of facilities, every single person needs to have a seat when they come in, they need to sit in it. And if we don’t want to spread, COVID the only reason they need to get up is to go to the bathroom. It may look more like a restaurant. It’s not really that same bar experience that people want, but it’s going to be necessary if we’re going to be able to reopen these facilities. And let me say, there are a lot of really responsible bar owners out there I’ve had conversations with them and I hate this requirement for them. They are certainly paying for actions of others and it’s not fair, but this virus isn’t fair either.
Gov. Andy Beshear: (18:03)
Alright, the next step that we’re taking and these numbers were created by the federal administration. We started out with different numbers is limiting indoor restaurant capacity to 25%. Though again, they can do unlimited outdoor as long as they can sufficiently spread them out under social distancing guidelines. And we are going to work with our cities and localities to do what we need to do administratively to allow that outside seating to expand. This is going to hurt a lot of restaurants, but the White House has modeling shows that this is absolutely necessary to control the spread at this time where we either become the next Florida or we get it under control and save the lives of our people and we protect our economy. The last recommendation is I’m recommending that both our public and our private schools wait until at least the third week of August to start-
Gov. Andy Beshear: (19:03)
… wait until at least the third week of August to start in person classes. You hear a lot out there about all of us wanting to get our kids back in in-person classes. But even Dr. Birx from an administration that’s really talking about it a lot said, “Yes, we’ve got to do that and we have to do that, But we have to do it safely. And you can’t do that with an uncontrolled surge in the virus.”
Gov. Andy Beshear: (19:25)
By waiting until the third week of August, we believe it gives us a chance to get this thing under better control, to get more people wearing that facial covering. And again, to get us in a place where we believe that we can handle this in a much better way. My concern is that if schools start before this when we’re seeing an escalation of the virus, we’ll see cases in schools. And if we see a lot of early cases in schools, it will be harder to get all of our schools open for in-person classes in some way that works for those families.
Gov. Andy Beshear: (20:02)
But again, I’m making that recommendation. When my kids otherwise would have been an in-person classes sooner. I’m making the recommendation even though I know my kids would be receiving a better education if their mom and I weren’t trying to teach them math. And I’m making that recommendation because I care about my kids, I care about yours, I care about their teachers and administrators, and I believe everybody deserves a safe environment. And it’s hard to argue we have a safe environment when our cases overall are escalating and our positivity rate is up again today, even though our cases are not in the six hundreds.
Gov. Andy Beshear: (20:41)
I’m going to ask Dr. Stack to come up to give us his thoughts, and then we’ll go to today’s update. We’re going to give some good news because we need good news today to on closing our books on the budget for the last year, and then we’re going to give a UI update.
Steven Stack, M.D.: (21:05)
Thank you, Governor. I feel bad walking in front of you there, Virginia. Sorry about that.
Steven Stack, M.D.: (21:11)
I hate being here today. I hate the days when we have to tell people you can’t do stuff. This is really unfortunate. This is not outside of our control. Our actions can have a positive impact in this. And what I’m going to go over here, this is the document the White House has started sending out, that the federal government has begun to send to us every week. And this is through yesterday and I received this this morning.
Steven Stack, M.D.: (21:45)
There’s a few points I wanted to emphasize. It’s not politics. I mean, you have President Trump and Governor Beshear making the same recommendations here. It’s not politics. This science. We either choose to acknowledge the reality we face and take actions that minimize the impact of this infection on our lives or we suffer the consequences in a different way. If we work together through this, we can succeed. And I’m going to use the report from the White House here to kind of describe how we’ve succeeded.
Steven Stack, M.D.: (22:18)
There are number of data points in this report, and I don’t know if this is publicly available or not. You’d have to ask the White House, but they use mobility data here for how far people have traveled. And they show here back when we were healthy at home, how we dipped to probably about a 70% reduction in our mobility. We were driving around a lot less. We were interacting with people a lot less. You know what we did here? That’s where we crushed the curve. We flattened the curve so much so that compared to almost all the other states, we never had a curve. We never had a big bump, and that’s because we stayed healthy at home and we took care of business and we got it done as Team Kentucky.
Steven Stack, M.D.: (22:59)
And what you can see is when we started lifting restrictions, we went right back up to normal. And here, as of July 19th, we were up in the upper 90% it appears for back to our mobility pre baseline. That’s how we start interacting with each other. That’s how the virus spreads.
Steven Stack, M.D.: (23:16)
One, it’s not politics. It’s not ideology. This is just science. When we come together, we spread the virus. Number two, we have to act early. We showed this back in the beginning. When you take intervention early, you stop the crisis from happening or at least you interrupted before it becomes a large scale crisis in terms of healthcare. We have to take interventions, but we also know now more information than we did earlier on. We know we can be more targeted now.
Steven Stack, M.D.: (23:47)
Back in the beginning, we didn’t have the same confidence that these cloth masks and face coverings worked as well as they do. We have a lot more confidence now based on the evidence. And so masks are what keep Kentucky open. You want to keep Kentucky open, wear a mask whenever you go out. Wear a mask whenever you’re anywhere near anyone else. Wear a mask when you come into your own household and you’re by someone vulnerable after you’ve been outside all day because these masks are what keep Kentucky open and they’re what keep your loved ones safe.
Steven Stack, M.D.: (24:18)
In this report from the White House, they show red and yellow the counties that are, by their measurement, criteria in most trouble. We have 16 counties in here and the western side of our state has got hit the hardest. I can’t rattle off as comfortably as the Governor does. He knows the 120 counties much more my memory than I do. But I mean, we’ve got Warren County, Graves County, Barren County, Ohio County, Adair County, Carroll County, Jefferson, which you’d expect and Oldham that’s a big area, a dense population, Shelby County. There’s 16 total. Bowling Green.
Steven Stack, M.D.: (24:56)
We got lot of the western side of the state that’s been hit hard by this, and this is what happens is the numbers start to go up and that’s what precedes the hospitals filling up.
Gov. Andy Beshear: (25:07)
16 just in red.
Steven Stack, M.D.: (25:07)
Yeah, and 16 just in red. We’ve got 58 in yellow here. You’ve got 16 plus 58. I’m going to have to do math. 74 counties out of 120 that the White House considers red or yellow. And it’s just like a stoplight, neither color is good in this purpose.
Steven Stack, M.D.: (25:25)
The other thing I wanted to share from this is when you look in here, they give us their recommendations right here. I’m going to read the top two recommendations, the top two bullets. Closing bars and reducing indoor dining restaurants to 25% capacity is critical to disrupt transmission. And the second, one keep mask mandates in place and work with local community groups to develop strong public messaging of the importance of masks in avoiding disruptions to business and school operations.
Steven Stack, M.D.: (25:57)
Now, I’ve had the opportunity to have extended discussions with folks who are trying to undo the mask work that we’ve done. Folks, that’s how we keep the state open. Masks are how we avoid as much of this disruption as we can.
Steven Stack, M.D.: (26:12)
I love going to restaurants. I did an interview piece for the tourism industry earlier, a month or more ago. I have had wonderful experiences with the hospitality industry, both restaurants. There’s a couple of restaurants we’re regulars at, that we love to go to and know the owner operators. I love enjoying the city of Lexington, and the camaraderie and the social interactions I’ve had going out to restaurants and bars in the Lexington area. I love going to hotels. I love traveling and seeing the state, the country and the world. If we want to get back to that stuff, we got to take these steps and get it under control and then keep it under control with a mask.
Steven Stack, M.D.: (26:51)
And I said this last week, we can’t test our way out of this problem. We have radically increased our testing capacity in the state of Kentucky. We have really crushed it for how quickly we’ve expanded that. And it’s still not enough because it can’t keep up with how fast the disease is spreading. If we get things back under control, we get Kentucky back to business, we get our economy back to work and we won’t need to use all those tests that we keep trying to produce more of because we’ll be healthy and we won’t need them. Thank you, Governor.
Gov. Andy Beshear: (27:30)
Right now, the White House is also advising that they believe these four steps can be as effective or close to as effective as what we would have called our Healthy At-home Program. Meaning if we can do this and we can do it well, it shouldn’t require any other disruptions to the economy. But again, taking steps is only as good as making sure that we follow them and getting people bought into them.
Gov. Andy Beshear: (27:57)
How effective can our four steps be? How many people as a percentage are going to wear a facial covering? How many bars and restaurants are going to follow and buy into what we are doing? And how many people are going to start limiting their house parties or their barbecues to 10 people or less? It’s our state. It’s the lives of our people. And it’s our economy on the line. I believe that we are going to do the right thing.
Gov. Andy Beshear: (28:24)
Now, when we first started out in this, there were a lot of questions as to what steps would be effective. We believe we know those steps now. We’re taking them. We need your help at home to make sure that they are as absolutely effective as they can be. Let’s not ask for the sacrifice that we are taking and asking, and people will be making here. Let’s not throw that away because we’re not doing our part.
Gov. Andy Beshear: (28:53)
Today, we continue to have a high numbers of cases. Today reporting 522 new cases of COVID-19. That brings our statewide total now to 27,601. 27,601. 1,392 of those are probable. The rest are already lab confirmed. When we look at our positivity rate, it’s up a little bit, 5.58%. Just as we calculate that, there has been a steady increase over time. We have got to see that start coming down. Total number of tests to date, 588,926. Currently, 609 people hospitalized for COVID-19; 131 in the ICU. At least 7,466 patients have recovered. But again, that number is low. That’s the hardest number for us to track.
Gov. Andy Beshear: (29:51)
Cases by County. Jefferson County, our largest county, 185; Fayette, 93; Daviess County, 22. Daviess County, city of Owensboro have been hit really hard. These steps are going to be really necessary to turn things around there and everywhere else. Warren County, 21; Oldham County, 19; Barren County, 12; and then a whole list of counties with single digits. But again, growing.
Gov. Andy Beshear: (30:21)
Continue to see a real disturbing trend with the age of people testing positive. Today, we got 21 kids under five. The youngest is 11 days old, and that’s not the only one that is under a full year. They come from all different counties, Bullitt, Whitley, Bell, Daviess, Greenup. And remember, that while thankfully the mortality rate has been very low with kids, it doesn’t mean it can’t be painful or difficult. And when we talk about a mortality rate being low, there’s still kids that are impacted. And the more kids that get the virus, that means the more kids that at least can go through something difficult and harmful.
Gov. Andy Beshear: (31:09)
Today, we’re also announcing nine new deaths. And remember, the deaths can trail the cases by weeks, sometimes even more. That’s why we’re now seeing the numbers in Texas as those death numbers grow because they’ve had so many cases. Now, we hope that we can push the mortality rate down. We’ve got people out there working really hard. It’s better here than it is overall in the country. But if you got a mortality rate of 3% and you got a hundred new people who test positive for the virus, sadly, we expect 3% to not make it. That means keeping the numbers down is also saving lives.
Gov. Andy Beshear: (31:51)
Today, those that we’ve lost are 74-year-old woman from Bell, a 70-year-old man from Jefferson, a 76-year-old woman from Jefferson, an 82-year-old man from Jefferson, a 98-year-old man from Jefferson, a 61-year-old man from Livingston, a 61-year-old woman from Jefferson, an 84-year-old woman from Jefferson and a 71-year-old man from Jefferson.
Gov. Andy Beshear: (32:16)
And again, in looking at these trends of more people in their 60s passing away, it was something that on Sunday we were able to discuss, and that is the same experience that the states to our south were going through. What they were seeing is people in their 20s and 30s started the spread, and then guess what? It’s their parents that are in or around their 60s. And then it was grandparents that got it from there.
Gov. Andy Beshear: (32:44)
Again, we know we’re in a natural progression that if it’s not stopped will mean we’ll go through the same devastating numbers of cases and loss as other states. We’re taking action before that happens. I do not want to let us become, and I will do everything I can to stop us, from becoming what we have seen in other states that are suffering this loss.
Gov. Andy Beshear: (33:08)
When we look at ethnicity, it’s nearly the same as it’s recently been. Overall cases, 85% non-Hispanic, 15% Hispanic. On race, 78.5% white, 12.13% black, 5.86% multiracial, 2.74% Asian. And then we look at deaths and it’s about 96% non-Hispanic and 4% Hispanic; 81% white, 14.63% black, 2.59% multiracial, 1.37% Asian.
Gov. Andy Beshear: (33:44)
Again, you see a significant disproportionate impact on those that have faced inequality in healthcare. We have pushed that number down since the beginning of this virus. I hope that we can push it down significantly more. Look at long-term care facilities, 30 additional residents since our last report, that would be Friday. 35 new staff, 7 new deaths that are attributable to long-term care and three new facilities having at least one case related to them.
Gov. Andy Beshear: (34:19)
We’re seeing some growth in childcare facilities. Since Friday, we have six new facilities that have at least one case connected to them. At least six new staff testing positive and five new children. This is something that we need to watch. We need to be very careful on, and knowing that kids can and do spread the virus. The level right now is in debate, but there is no question they can and do spread it.
Gov. Andy Beshear: (34:48)
Since we showed some pictures of some people not doing the right thing, I just wanted to take a minute to make sure we recognize those that are out there working so hard to turn this thing around. We’ve asked people to help fill up social media with the right type of examples, of the type of photos that we want to show every day because this is fighting for the lives of other people.
Gov. Andy Beshear: (35:11)
Listen, this is a couple on a mini vacation to Natural Bridge, and you wouldn’t think on a mini vacation to natural bridge you could be saving other people’s lives. They are. On a mini vacation in Natural Bridge, they’re working to save our economy. This is being a patriotic American at the moment. Whoever thought that our patriotism would call for us to wear a facial covering, to stay six feet apart and not have 50 people over to our house? In other times of patriotism, we’ve asked a lot more of people, so please, please do your part.
Gov. Andy Beshear: (35:43)
When look at the next one, this is the Masonic Homes. A lot of our facilities that help our older Kentuckians have had to get so creative, but we are creative people. We’re not only resilient, but we can all find those different ways to try to have a little bit of fun. And one thing I love about this is it shows the care that we truly want to provide to one another.
Gov. Andy Beshear: (36:11)
I love this. She’s participating in the Derby Dinner Playhouse. That we still have options and opportunities. My kids’ church musical, I think is going to be entirely done through Zoom, but I walked through the house and they’re belting out the songs in a moment of joy that we haven’t seen enough of during this crisis. Make sure you take advantage of these opportunities. And yes, while this kiddo, I’m sure, would rather be with the people on there, you can see a difference in your kids. I see a difference in my kids with every activity like this that they are able to do.
Gov. Andy Beshear: (36:51)
All right, look at this. This is Masks For a Cause. This post says, “Saw this lemonade plus mask stand in my neighborhood. These amazing kids were selling masks that they tie-dyed themselves for $5 to raise money for medical research.” I said it before, our kids get it. They get that we’ve got to rise to this occasion and they don’t wallow in what it takes to get there. They adapt and they look for the best possible opportunities to help. Let’s make sure we’re showing an example worthy of these kids. All right, and last is my buddy. This is David, who we’ve even had here in person. I think he’s now spoken in this rotunda twice. David has a form of cancer where he doesn’t know and his family doesn’t know exactly how many days he has at any point. That’s where why he wears this mask that I wear too. But, he has chosen this moment in his life to be the superhero that he is and to encourage everybody-
Gov. Andy Beshear: (38:03)
… To be the superhero that he is and to encourage everybody around him, knowing his story and knowing it could impact him to wear a mask. David is a very special kiddo and if he’s watching, we’re really proud of you and thanks for everything that you’ve done.
Gov. Andy Beshear: (38:17)
All right, one more piece of good news and this is one that I would not have been able to predict several months ago. So COVID-19 has appended all of our lives. What it’s going to do to our budget next year, without federal assistance will be devastating. We believe it could cause the single largest budget cuts in our state’s history. And we hope that Congress will act. I want money for school safety during COVID from Congress, but if we have to cut education and there are fewer teachers or resources once the kids get there, then we haven’t done our job. It all fits together.
Gov. Andy Beshear: (38:57)
But what I can tell you is that this year’s budget that we just closed the books on as turned out to be one of the better budgets we’ve actually had in a while here in Kentucky. General fund revenues. We did not end the year with a deficit. We ended up 177.5 million in the black. This is after the consensus forecasting group had estimated that we would end up hundreds of millions of dollars short. Those are the economist group created by state statute that came in.
Gov. Andy Beshear: (39:35)
A couple of things happened, the delayed income tax collections in July. Remember, people didn’t pay on April 15th. They paid on July 15th. We’re a lot stronger than were expected. And this means a couple of things. It means we’re going to have a little money for necessary government expenses, which they save every year for things that arise. But we’re going to deposit $162.5 million in the rainy day fund, which is also called the budget reserve trust fund. That is going to bring that trust fund to $465.7 million. It’s the largest deposit at the end of a fiscal year that we have had, I believe even in decades, certainly in my memory.
Gov. Andy Beshear: (40:24)
What that means is that we saw this fiscal problem. We addressed it. We cut our spending significantly inside our portion of the executive branch. Schools aren’t going to have to take a cut based on the last fiscal year, universities aren’t going to. The legislative branch and the judicial branch aren’t going to have to at all.
Gov. Andy Beshear: (40:45)
Road fund. So the road fund actually ended up in the red by $60.3 million, but we were able to take action early to cut spending within our cabinets. And there are going to be no cuts to the state construction program due to what we were able to do on the cost side, and then use some CARES Act funding on the state police side.
Gov. Andy Beshear: (41:12)
I got to tell you, this is a better outcome than I could have ever anticipated. It’s a positive outcome for the people of Kentucky. I hope they know how fiscally responsible that this administration is committed to being, especially during this crisis. And this extra amount to the rainy day fund is good because we’re going to need it. As good as this looks, next year looks just as bad.
Gov. Andy Beshear: (41:38)
Fourth quarter receipts declined by four and a half percent, sales tax down by 5.9%. Individual and corporate estimated payments were down 110 million. Withholding down in the fourth quarter, 5.5% after excluding 68 million in unemployment insurance withholding. So all the signs are that we’ve got a big hill to climb in front of us. We have got to get state stabilization funds and this next round of CARES Act funding. Otherwise, our recession is going to be deeper and longer, and none of us want that.
Gov. Andy Beshear: (42:12)
All right, we’re going to have an update on UI now, and then we’ll go into questions. We’ve got Amy Cubbage he or she is doing an excellent job over in the Labor Cabinet and is the individual that has now been testifying multiple times in front of our legislative groups. We’re going to be asking Amy to give these updates moving forward into the future. Amy.
Amy Cubbage: (42:46)
Thank you, governor. And as the governor just said, my name is Amy Cubbage and I’m General Counsel at the Labor Cabinet, and I’m happy to be with here with you today to give an update on what we are doing with unemployment and how we are working hard to get all Kentuckians the benefits that they deserve. Before I get to the numbers, I want to give a little background so that you understand more how these numbers work. When a person loses a job and files an unemployment claim, it could be undisputed or disputed. And a claim could be disputed for multiple reasons.
Amy Cubbage: (43:19)
The employer could challenge the claim or the claimant themselves could indicate information in the filing that gives rise to a reason to think they may not be qualified for unemployment. Now these are called, like I said, disputed claims. The undisputed claims are obviously the easy ones we can process those quickly and get payments out. But if a claim is disputed, whether it’s under traditional UI or under the PUA program, the pandemic special program for self-employed people, gig workers, the other kinds of workers out there, federal law requires the office of unemployment to issue a formal written adjudication of the dispute.
Amy Cubbage: (44:02)
They have to either write a letter saying you qualify for benefits or you don’t qualify for benefits. That is a federal rule, we can’t waive that and we are required by the federal law to have our staff in the office of unemployment write those letters. The vast majority of the claims we’ve been hearing about that were processed by EY were disputed claims. So now those require that formal written notice of determination.
Amy Cubbage: (44:33)
A large percentage of unprocessed claims at this point are actually not those disputed claims. What’s out there, the biggest bucket are what are called continuing claims. Those are claims where someone has initially been approved, they went into request their money and they may have clicked the wrong box, or they may have inadvertently started a new claim. In those cases, once we get the processors to attack those, those should be resolved pretty quickly, should not need a written determination.
Amy Cubbage: (45:06)
So we are hopeful that we’ll get through those quickly, but that leaves us to the numbers of those that have been processed and are just waiting for that written determination. Now there are out there in our numbers right now about 68,000 initial claims that have not been fully resolved. This includes 49,000 filed in March. 22, 000 filed in April. I’m sorry? Oh, sorry, governor, 4900. That was a massive misspeak. And 20,000 filed in May.
Amy Cubbage: (45:42)
There’s a total of that 68,000, approximately 63,000 have now been investigated, processed and passed on for that last step, that adjudication process. That means 95% of the work is done on those claims. A large percentage of that by Ernst & Young. But as I stated earlier, the federal government requires us to take that last step and write that letter. We are working hard to get all of those done. It’s a step that we have to do. We can’t outsource that to Ernst & Young at this point, but we are exploring ways to speed that process up to put more resources behind that so that we can write those letters more quickly, and get Kentuckians the benefits they deserve.
Amy Cubbage: (46:27)
We know people are hurting and no one at the Labor Cabinet or the Office of Unemployment will rest until deserving Kentuckians get the benefits they’re qualified for. Now quickly about Ernst & Young. We did extend that contract for another five weeks to help us resolve the backlog, which is now primarily continuing claims. But they will be processing new initial claims so that our staff are freed up to do those written determinations as well as any future in person services. A reminder, that contract is 100% going to be paid by CARES Act funding. No general funds will be used for that. And they finished as of yesterday through what was the initial term of the contract. 61,000 claims were processed, which did exceed our expectations and was a substantial reason why we wanted to extend that contract.
Amy Cubbage: (47:23)
I just want to make one last comment. I know there’s been a lot of discussion in the press about the what is technically known as the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation program. That’s the extra $600 a week. There’s a lot of discussion about how that runs out on July 31st. Well, through some quirks of federal law, it runs out the last full week of July. For Kentucky, our last full unemployment week ended on July 25th. So claimants, when you are claiming for the week starting July 26th, unless the federal government acts, unless Congress acts that $600 is not going to be available.
Amy Cubbage: (48:05)
Last week of benefits will be the last time that’s available. So we want to make sure everyone understands that. And just so you understand the injection that is given to our economy, we have paid $3.3 billion in benefits to Kentucky. 2.5 billion of that has been of the $600 extra, the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation. That’s it. Thank you.
Gov. Andy Beshear: (48:41)
Good job. All right. We’re going to open up to questions. We’ve got a full house. I’ll try to take a couple from everybody and then I just have a couple of written questions. Alex.
[inaudible 00:48:58] using at the end of the two weeks and also it’s right after the mask mandate data I believed has expired. Can you talk about renewing that too? What metrics are you looking at?
Gov. Andy Beshear: (49:06)
So Alex, thank you for the two questions, but they’re both about metrics on what we’ll be looking at on the two weeks that we’re looking at right now and also on the mask mandate. And whether we’ll re-up it. I will say that I think people ought to expect that we’ll re-up the facial covering mandate. And as long as we’re seeing the right other metrics, my hope is that we can get restaurants back to 50%, two weeks from tomorrow and hope that we can get even bars open in some new, different way two weeks from there.
Gov. Andy Beshear: (49:44)
We’re going to be looking at our positivity rate. We’re going to be looking at the overall number of cases just because it’s so big right now. You could see a difference between 250 and 350 cases if it was overall testing. But when you get up in the fives, the 600s and we’ve had a couple of days of 800 or 900, the total number of cases really matter too. And we’re going to continue to watch our hospitalization, our ICU data though, that’s still pretty good for Kentucky. The problem is it gets away from you really fast if the numbers keep going up. And I believe that plus a couple of the other data we see, but positivity rate, numbers of cases are two of the largest considerations.
Speaker 1: (50:34)
One quick clarification question and then I guess another question. So basically I think the Restaurant Association had mentioned that this new mandate goes into effect tomorrow at 5:00 PM. I just want to make sure is that true or is it midnight tonight?
Gov. Andy Beshear: (50:46)
I thought we were setting it up for midnight tonight, but we’ll get you clarification for that. We had tried to give the Restaurant Association because we’ve been communicating with them. So an example of them releasing it before we did, does show you that we are working with organizations out there, good news or bad news.
Speaker 1: (51:11)
And finally just with so many unanswered claims still out there and with so many people that are likely going to need assistance, being temporarily laid off from bars, can this systems support more people?
Gov. Andy Beshear: (51:23)
The question is on our unemployment system. So overall, we can help and sustain more people. Our tools of getting them signed up and getting them that help are woefully insufficient. Again, I’ve talked about two things, but we’ve really got three things that all hit together. We’ve got a system both federally and state under the law that are designed to tell people now to make it hard to get unemployment. I think a lot of these claims when the letter comes out, I mean, some of them are going to be denied because federal law says, “We can’t provide benefits in certain situations.”
Gov. Andy Beshear: (52:03)
It’s not something where, remember everybody who applies sadly doesn’t always qualify, though I hope as many people as possible can, can get help. Second is an antiquated system, as well as past layoffs that left us and in a position where the manpower and the technology wasn’t there. And then the third is just the most claims of all-time, but we’re getting better. Certainly the contract with EY has been significantly helpful, though the Office of Unemployment has also significantly increased their number of people who are working, but the volume is significant.
Gov. Andy Beshear: (52:41)
And so we’re taking some steps in getting some extra help in getting through those 63,000 claims that only need that last letter. We want to do that as quickly as possible. But when you think about writing a two-page letter, it’s still going to take you 10 minutes to look through the file to make sure you’re doing the right thing. And you just think about how much time that eats up. So we’re increasing our manpower to get through it. Chris.
Governor [inaudible 00:53:05] I want to chime in on this one and I’ll let you take a drink. It’ll be a long question, but not that long. Looking in today’s stats, 70 more people that are connected to long-term care facilities have died. 70 patients. It looks to me like 465 total has roughly two thirds of all Kentucky deaths are tied to long-term care facilities.
Why no new restrictions on long-term care facilities or their employees? Instead of aiming at bars or places where people have been less likely it appears to have become ICU patients or a fatality in Kentucky. Are you considering new restrictions for long-term care facilities as a lockdown when those people seem to be the most at risk on severe issues?
Gov. Andy Beshear: (53:51)
The question is about long-term care facilities and steps there versus taking steps at bars. And let me start with the bars. So long-term care facilities, I mean, the virus doesn’t pop up on its own. It doesn’t burst out of nothing. What they’re seeing all across the country is a spread that starts in bars, goes from that age group to the 60-year-old age group. And from that age group gets inside long-term care facilities and infects older Kentuckians.
Gov. Andy Beshear: (54:20)
And they even talked through the progression of how you can see it and how they can even map and show it in Florida and Texas and the rest. I believe the steps that we have taken have gone a long way to stabilize long-term care facilities, but they are still the most vulnerable. Meaning that as long as this virus is around, sadly, we’re still going to continue to see some loss and we’ve got to do everything we can to reduce it.
Gov. Andy Beshear: (54:44)
So right now, our next step that we’re taking there is what we call surveillance testing. And that is that we are working and it’s in place right now on robust testing for those that work inside the facility, to try to identify quickly those individuals that are positive and ensure that they’re not going to multiple facilities. Now, that’s something that we can’t do in the broader sense. You can’t test somebody that’s about to go into a bar or coming out.
Gov. Andy Beshear: (55:12)
And it right now is considered that the two steps that we’ve taken I believe are considered the gold standard. One, test everybody and get your baseline and two, test the workers in long-term care facilities to prevent it from coming in. Now, if we continue to see spread, we may have to look back at visitation. We were able to open that. Visitation is so important for the mental and emotional health of both families and their loved one that’s in one of these facilities. It’s also important to make sure the facility is doing everything else now that they should. But will we as we continue to go always reevaluate that absolutely. Tom.
Governor, a clarification for me too if you would on the bars. Is that also include bars that serve food, or is it just-
Gov. Andy Beshear: (56:00)
The question is on bars and does it include bars that serve food. If I bar serves food and they are going to continue to stay open it, better look just like a restaurant. Everybody has a chair, everybody sits in their chair. Everybody comes in, in a specific group and everybody stays with that group. And I know that’s not the bar experience. And I get the people go to a bar for a different experience than that to meet other people. But right now, we’ve got to get things to a controlled level.
Gov. Andy Beshear: (56:28)
Everybody’s got to have the masks on. Some did really well. I think some of the bars in Louisville did better this weekend. We still had to take this step, but you know as you could see, we’ve got a 100 out not wearing a mask at all. It’s going to thwart our efforts to stop this. And you look at other states, a lot of them had a lot of people coming into them, had restaurants and bars open. They were a place where people packed into them and we have a lot of our cases coming back from those areas. Joe.
I have a similar question to Tom, but more so-
Speaker 2: (57:01)
Gov. Andy Beshear: (57:12)
So distilleries don’t fall into this order. They fall, I believe, under the venues and some other guidance that’s out there. We haven’t seen any concerns coming out of them. They control the size of the groups that come through. What we really need is to do well on this because one of the next places to look would be venue capacity if we are seeing spread, or significant spread in those areas. Right now, we don’t think we have to take that step if we have good controls by the businesses that do that, and if we have people limiting their social gatherings significantly.
Gov. Andy Beshear: (57:50)
Again, our ability to stop this virus based on these four steps is going to depend on how well we do with these four steps. Joe, and then Karen. He seems to be slightly to the left.
Has your administration heard [inaudible 00:58:03] reagents for testing [inaudible 00:00:58:09]? And have you heard similar problems coming from other health systems and health providers in the state?
Gov. Andy Beshear: (58:16)
The question is, have we heard from Norton Healthcare that they have been having trouble getting reagents, or that I think, what I read at least, was they believe the federal government is moving those supplies elsewhere. I have not heard that directly from them. We have been concerned, really for a week, a week and a half at least, and there is going to be a real difficulty getting reagent. Specifically, that’s what’s used in the labs. It’s necessary to run the tests. So I’m not surprised that there has been difficulty. And certainly, the federal government moving supplies to hotspots was something that we saw in March.
Gov. Andy Beshear: (58:57)
It’s something that we worried about from a volume standpoint occurring, but we haven’t spoken directly to anybody that’s raised those concerns with us. Now that’s a healthcare system that has done a heck of a job. They’ve never told us anything directly to us that hasn’t been true and so that’s a conversation we’ll have with them.
Can you just talk about [inaudible 00:59:20] that there is a large chunk that you feel will be done quickly for those people who have been waiting two, three, maybe some for four months. Quickly, one day is very quickly, three weeks is not.
Gov. Andy Beshear: (59:34)
Can they have a better time frame?
Gov. Andy Beshear: (59:36)
We hope we can get through those 63,000 claims. This is on unemployment, that have 95% of the work as quickly as possible. Our challenge is having about 100 people, 10 minutes a claim and what it’ll take. So what we’re doing right now is we’re bringing more, especially government lawyers in from whatever else they’re doing to help us increase the number of people that can go through those. We’ll be able to see, I think, by the end of the week, about how much we can increase our workforce. And at previous times, we’ve increased our workforce in different areas in claim processing, but this is different and we’re going to need more people to help us get through those to get it done quickly.
Gov. Andy Beshear: (01:00:16)
This requirement of the two page letter or the page and a half letter, it’s a pain in the butt, and it’s sadly going to make people have to wait longer than they should. But we can’t authorize unemployment and/or we can’t deny it and let them get to their appeal until it’s done. It feels like it feels like a TPS report.
Speaker 3: (01:00:41)
Gov. Andy Beshear: (01:00:56)
The question is if we’re perceiving an inconsistency with asking people to limit their social gatherings at their home and in their backyard to 10 and then protests going on. We can control what we can control. I need people to do the right thing in their homes and in their backyards. What I’ve seen from protests is yes, it’s a lot more people other than 10. I have seen a significant amounts of people wearing facial coverings and spreading out, but we’ve all have our part to do, regardless of whether we think other people around us are doing it.
Gov. Andy Beshear: (01:01:32)
We’re going to fail on this if we say, well, that guy over there isn’t wearing his facial covering, so I’m not going to either. And our goal in this has to be we want to do the right thing personally because it’s the right thing to do. Knowing that whether we do the right things, follow this guidance is what will make us successful. And other people out there must have a lot more friends than me to be able to fill up their house with 50 people. Do ten one day, wait a week and do 10 another.
Speaker 4: (01:02:00)
Gov. Andy Beshear: (01:02:17)
The question is on the Paycheck Protection Act, which has expired right as when we’re having to shut down bars and limit restaurants. It’s horrible timing for those groups, but the potential longterm damage from not getting control of the virus is significantly greater than the short term damage and hardship. And it’s going to be hardship. I don’t get to make any decisions that have good outcomes. Most decisions that I make have to be to avoid the worst outcome. So our hope is that we can get this managed, managed in two weeks, get the right rules and guidelines in place to where we don’t see the same type of pictures that we saw today and to protect the overall longterm health of the small businesses.
Gov. Andy Beshear: (01:03:01)
Now we need another PPP bill passed through Congress. We need some additional unemployment passed through Congress. And whether they’re going to do it all together or get one through quickly, as long as they do all of it, I’m not sure I care.
Speaker 4: (01:03:14)
Gov. Andy Beshear: (01:03:19)
I’m not confident that every bar can survive the next two weeks. And again, it’s not fair to those that have done it responsibly. And I’m not going to pretend now that it’s fair and I’m not going to pretend like there are some small businesses that won’t make it through this, but I’m dealing with an international health pandemic that threatens the lives and the health of our people, the overall health of our economy. And I’ve got every public health expert from the White House down to the state saying, we absolutely have to do this.
Gov. Andy Beshear: (01:03:48)
Otherwise, we’d have to have more widespread closures. I’ll try to go faster.
Speaker 5: (01:03:55)
[inaudible 01:03:55] mask mandate, what sort of closures or restrictions are you looking at that point?
Gov. Andy Beshear: (01:04:02)
If these two steps don’t work is the question, what else would we look at? Well, we’ll be looking at all options. We don’t have any to announce today, but if we can’t get control of it from doing these, which certainly the White House believes we can, we’ll have to take other steps. We can’t just let a virus run unchecked through the Commonwealth. Tom.
Governor, the Supreme Court issued a new administrative order this afternoon that they apparently are going to start allowing evictions as of August 1st, don’t you have something in place to stop that too?
Gov. Andy Beshear: (01:04:35)
The question is on evictions, a new Supreme Court order saying proceedings can occur on August 1st. We have an order in place freezing them, but we’re all in mediation in Northern Kentucky trying to find the right process moving forward. And the process is about protecting those that can’t pay their rent because of COVID or the hardships related to it while not letting other people game the system. And we know that most people out there are suffering and can’t pay the rent, but it’s only fair to those business owners that we have a process in place to where those that can do. Joe.
How much discussion have you had with state lawmakers, Republicans or Democrats, or the attorney general [inaudible 00:01:05:18]?
Gov. Andy Beshear: (01:05:22)
We advised, I believe, leadership in the House and the Senate of the steps that we were going to need to take before the press conference today. I was able to discuss it in further depth with one of those leaders at the end of last week. As you know, we’ve been talking about these exact steps and that we would need to take them if we didn’t get this thing under control and we respond certainly to leadership anytime they want to get together. I also communicated, I believe, with the committee chair that had asked to be updated on any new terms for our EY and let them know as well.
Gov. Andy Beshear: (01:05:58)
Pulaski County has two flea markets in Somerset, which on any given weekend has large crowds, very few masks being used. Why not shut down the flea markets to help stop the spread? What we need there is we need help from local health departments and local leaders. If you’ve got something dangerous going on in your community, let’s step up and do the right thing. I haven’t seen the flea markets in Somerset. I can’t attest to whether they’re being done safely or not. But given the question is from a concerned citizen that’s in that area, my hope is that our, our local leaders there will respond, will make sure it’s safe or won’t let it occur if it’s not. Joe.
Gov. Andy Beshear: (01:06:39)
The question is based on baseball having an outbreak right now. And I believe that worst is the Marlins that have seven to nine players plus staff. More?
Gov. Andy Beshear: (01:07:03)
He’s following baseball better than I am, 11. And that’s concerning. I mean, it’s an organization that probably has four or $5 million on average invested in every single player and has all the motivation to keep people as safe as they can and they’ve still got an outbreak that ought to make all of us pause and think about the steps that we need to take. But based on that, have we rethought Churchill downs? At this point, we’re still far enough away to where we want to see the mask mandate, how well it works. Again, we’ve got a pretty good example in Lynn Family Stadium that says when you put all the restrictions into effect and you enforce it, that’s a really important point, you are out there working it and enforcing it, it appears that you can do some of these things safely.
Gov. Andy Beshear: (01:07:54)
We’ve been impressed. I think they’ve had three games and we’ve been impressed. I’ve been impressed in what I have seen, even though I haven’t been there.
Speaker 6: (01:08:04)
[inaudible 01:08:04] businesses being fined [inaudible 01:08:17]?
Gov. Andy Beshear: (01:08:20)
A question is local health departments being in an education phase and maybe not having moved to the fine phase. We’re at a point now where we’ve got to stop this thing. And if we want to advise people once not to do the wrong thing, we can’t let them do it twice. And I’d just like to think that if you got a hundred people not wearing masks inside a facility or outside not even trying, you know it’s wrong. And the problem is it hurts every other business that’s trying to do it right. And it’s like growing up when you’d say it’s unfair because somebody else did something and it prevented you from getting to do something that you like.
Gov. Andy Beshear: (01:08:58)
Well, this is with people’s livelihoods and businesses. Again, one can impact the other. And I really hope that after taking this pause, we can get everybody doing the right thing because it’s the right thing, because it’s best in their longterm economic interests. And I’d like to think you want a safe environment for people to come into.
Speaker 7: (01:09:16)
Gov. Andy Beshear: (01:09:29)
The question is with as hard as it’s going to be on restaurants, and it is, so everybody, please order a lot of takeout these next two weeks. I know that’s not supposed to sound silly, but it’s one way that you can help. Everybody can do takeout. Everybody can do certain, even alcoholic beverages in takeout. If you can, step up and maybe do a little more of that over the next two weeks. The problem is if we don’t do this now with our restaurants, it’ll result in longer term closures in that and other parts of the industry. I believe most of our restaurants are trying really hard, really hard.
Gov. Andy Beshear: (01:10:06)
But we got the White House saying this is a step that absolutely has to be taken based on all of their modeling and how it spreads to stop things now. We got to stop the virus. If it continues to escalate like it is right now, it won’t be two weeks and 25% for restaurants. It’ll be a lot worse for everybody across the board. All right. We hear Kroger will be pulling out of the state’s COVID testing very shortly. So what’s happening there is Kroger informed us that they’ll no longer be conducting the drive-through testing. They’ll be doing testings out of the little clinic.
Gov. Andy Beshear: (01:10:41)
Let me first say, thank you. We could not have made it without Kroger. We could not have made it. At a time when we didn’t have nearly the amount of testing that we needed, we didn’t have a single drive-through site. They stepped up and they didn’t take a dollar from us, I don’t think, throughout the vast majority of days that they have done. They provided their own PPE. They stood in heat so significantly that we had to bring in fans from emergency management because people had passed out. They have been an incredible citizen of this state, and I can’t thank them enough.
Gov. Andy Beshear: (01:11:20)
We do need to replace that capacity for drive through testing. We are working right now with UK, U of L and looking for partners in Northern Kentucky. Our hope is to have a partner in place even by early next week to meet if not exceed the capacity that we are otherwise going to lose. Our universities are good partners. It means if we can do it that way, our dollars will also flow to institutions that could use them. My goal is make sure we don’t have an interruption of service, or if we do, it is a small as possible. Now because Kroger volunteered, it’s going to take more in CARES Act money. That’s fine. We got to be testing, and we got to have widespread testing. We may actually come out doing a little bit more based on the sites, at least, that have been proposed right now, and that would help with this extra demand in a couple of our urban cities.
Speaker 8: (01:12:13)
Two part question on restaurants and bars [inaudible 01:12:16]?
Gov. Andy Beshear: (01:12:34)
Question is on the picture that was shown, have any of those facilities been fined or warned? I don’t know. That would be a local health department question or one to our ABC. Do I think they should now? Well, the next two weeks aren’t going to be easy on anybody. I think when we come out of this, it’s going to be very important for anybody that hadn’t been following the rules and regulations to do the very best job that they can. And the challenge with that, when you look at that picture, it’s not just the people that are there, it’s the message that it sends.
Gov. Andy Beshear: (01:13:08)
Again, it sends a message that if we got a hundred people out there and nobody’s wearing masks, that you don’t need to wear one either. And so, listen, the bars or the restaurants involved, yeah, they have blame. The people involved, yeah, they have blame. And we got to do a better job on enforcement. And now knowing the steps that we need to take to stem the tide, knowing it won’t take a broader closures, knowing that we don’t have to go back to being healthy at home, that we do this right, then yes, we need a lot more enforcement.
Gov. Andy Beshear: (01:13:41)
And I think in two weeks, if we come out and we have better enforcement, that hopefully we don’t have to do this again. All right. I want to thank everybody. Listen, we’re still in this fight. And that means that when the virus escalates, our actions have to escalate. But we’re not where we were in March. We know a lot more about this virus. We know what it takes. We just got to get out there and get the job done. It’s now taking steps maybe because we weren’t all following what we need to follow. It’s going to take steps that are going to hurt folks out there.
Gov. Andy Beshear: (01:14:17)
But if we can do this and if we do this right over the next two weeks or two weeks and change, we can stabilize our numbers, if not start to see a decrease. Now is the time. Do we become Florida, Arizona, Texas, California? Or do we continue to be Kentucky, a state that has had an amazing response, that has come together when called and has crushed our curve thus far? We’ve done it once. Let’s do it again. I’ll see you all tomorrow at four.