May 14, 2020
Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear COVID-19 Briefing Transcript May 14
Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear held his May 14 press conference. Beshear is allowing gatherings of 10 or less for Memorial Day Weekend. Read the full speech transcript of all updates here.
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Andy Beshear: (00:00)
… that we are committed, and that when people write the history about this point in time, they say not just the people of America, but specifically the people of Kentucky came together, did what it took, protected one another and took on a global pandemic better than we have ever seen anybody do it. They’re going to say that we didn’t just have many of those traits of the greatest generation, which was the work ethic and the faithful commitment, but we had our own traits of kindness of compassion, and even of creativity. I know as folks have been cooped up, they found different and new ways to express themselves. I’ve appreciated some of the cups that people have sent me, and people continue to make fun of my snafu on Malik Tupac Shakur. And so today, I just want to say I appreciate the actual state seal that you sent.
Andy Beshear: (01:01)
But given that one of our callings here is to stay Healthy At Home and to be Healthy At Work, these types of things, when you’re having fun with it, that are a way to express yourself, are something that I want to make sure that we celebrate as well.
Andy Beshear: (01:18)
We’re going to get through this because we’ve already proven we can, and because we are resilient, and because we’re going to make sure that we follow the rules and restrictions that help us. So we’re going to start with the Healthy At Work rules, because we’ve talked so much about the Healthy At Home. And we put these up and we talk about them because you’ve proven that you can be Healthy At Home. You’ve proven that we can do this better than just about anybody, which gives me faith. Faith in mankind in addition to my faith in God, that we can make these a part of our normal everyday lives to protect one another.
Andy Beshear: (01:58)
So I want to talk today about closing common areas at work. So it’s really important to realize that we’re going to work to restart our economy. To make sure that we can build, and in the coming weeks, we’re going to talk about our opportunity to build a new economy here in Kentucky. One aligned with the world as it is today, and one that makes up for some of the weaknesses that this COVID-19 pandemic has shown us, that we have a lack of manufacturing in the United States, about critical equipment like PPE, a lack of the robust healthcare system that we need. What we’ve seen is the rise of testing labs in Kentucky, and how important they are. And the importance of agritech, which are already believed in strongly. But when we look at the impact that this has had on our food chain, this is going to give us a chance in Kentucky to build a more resilient, more modern and important economy, going into the future. But today I want to talk about when we go back to work, it’s about going back to work. It’s about getting back to jobs. It’s about rebooting and restarting the economy. It can’t just be about seeing each other. And so this concept of closing common areas, of no waiting rooms, making sure we don’t have places where people congregate in the office is really important. When we looked at that CDC graph about the choir, we saw what happens when you get together in one area. This isn’t to pick on a choir, this could be a pool, this could be a large meeting room. It just shows you how quickly it can jump between people. So closing those common areas is one of the only reasons we can go back to work in the middle of a pandemic. So if you are an employee, or if you are an employer, please look at doing that.
Andy Beshear: (03:53)
I also want to say, I heard today, at least in one community, that people at different places of work might not be doing what they need to, which is wearing masks. And there was even social pressure on people, and making fun of them if they were wearing a mask. Folks, if we want to make sure this economy moves forward and we don’t have to pause it, every major health expert in America is now saying, you need to make one of these. We are not smarter than all of the health experts. They know what they’re talking about with communicable diseases, and us pressuring someone else to do something that could protect them or potentially keep them from spreading it to somebody else, let’s not be that person. Let’s not be the exception to the rule. If you want to have a safe workforce that your employees have comfort in, and as do customers, let’s follow these rules, let’s do what it takes. I want this to work. I really do. Healthy At Home has worked, it’s saved tens of thousands of lives. Let’s not squander it. Let’s do this, right. Let’s be a really good neighbor.
Andy Beshear: (05:01)
And remember, if you’re in a workplace making fun of somebody for wearing a mask, you’re not being a very good neighbor. You know somewhere deep down that this could help them. So let’s encourage each other to do the right things and not the wrong things.
Andy Beshear: (05:15)
We talk about the rules that help us, we also have the census. Now in good news, we are back up to 13th place in the census. Remember, it just takes a couple minutes to do. So we’re sitting there right now in 13, we have passed Connecticut again. I had to witness at least a couple of national championship games that did not work out the right way with Connecticut. Let’s make sure we beat them in the census. Let’s make sure that we get the dollars that this state needs. And also just want to point out when you look at the ranking spot counties, we’ve had some that have made a really big jump. Bullitt County being one that is now almost 74.3% of its citizens having responded. I think the city of Hillview, it’s over 75%. Now that is a really good job.
Andy Beshear: (06:04)
Let’s make sure that we keep this up, because when we talk about having to rebuild and restart and reboot our economy, which we’re going to have to, and when we think about ways that we can do it strategically to be a better brighter, stronger Kentucky in the long run, we’re going to need these dollars to help with so many programs that are going to help us get there. So please fill out your census.
Andy Beshear: (06:27)
Now I forgot yesterday to do the other thing that we always do. And that is to celebrate those doing the right thing, following the rules, and making sure that we’re Team Kentucky, Together KY, we are Patriots, Healthy At Home and now Healthy At Work. So let’s take a look at what we have today. Listen, these are people celebrating, doing the right thing that it takes to protect one another. And I put out a video today about why I do it. It has my daughter in it. I do it for her, I do it for her brother, I do it for my wife and I do it for every other Kentuckian out there that I want to protect in case I’m asymptomatic. That’s a good enough reason for me. That’s following the golden rule. It’s certainly what I’m going to do, and I hope you do it too. And it’s exactly what they’re doing. And you can even see the Colonel in the background wearing one.
Andy Beshear: (07:22)
All right, so this is… You know, our kids continue to show us that model of citizenship, but maybe it’s just morals and ethics and being good people. It’s looking out for the world and wanting to help it. So this is a walk that these two brothers were taking. I grew up with a older brother, I’m probably the younger one. If that was us, we would have been fighting instead. But these two kids out on their walk wanted to do even something more for their world. This is them cleaning up trash along the way. Let’s again, look at those examples. Let’s try to emulate the very best of our kids who never let any of these divisions or derisions get in their way. And they just want that better world. So do I.
Andy Beshear: (08:09)
All right. This is Good Shepherd meeting and providing for their parish in Lexington. I actually went to preschool at Good Shepherd a long time ago, but I love this. This is using modern technology, protecting their congregation, protecting their flock, but also providing the critical services that are needed and that our houses of worship provide.
Andy Beshear: (08:36)
All right, this is Thai Smile, which is a great restaurant that has been doing take out, be careful about the spice levels. They’re making masks, and they’re giving them out with every single order. Think about that. It’s hard right now to get by as a restaurant, and this is one that is decided to do something good for the world, with every single order that they’re doing. It’s pretty special. It’s also going to build confidence with customers, so other restaurants, I hope you’re watching. This is a good example to follow.
Andy Beshear: (09:15)
All right. All right. So Jamila Simpson is making masks. Is making masks to help other people. Is making masks because she knows that it helps her and others around her. How about this? If you don’t believe me, wear one for her.
Andy Beshear: (09:36)
All right. And this is Mill Creek Christian Church, remembering all of those that we have lost, lit up in green. It’s been something really special that’s brought us all together. It was something that we did at the start, it was something that continues to bind us. And it’s something that we ought to continue doing.
Andy Beshear: (09:59)
So this week is national hospital week. What a time to have national hospital week. It’s highlights the adage of every hospital, health system, and person involved in keeping our communities healthy that health comes first. This week allows us to recognize our hospitals and healthcare professionals for all their hard work and dedication to support those in need every day, but especially during COVID-19. The American Hospital Association is encouraging a week of thanks, where people can participate from the safety of their homes and recognize the heroes fighting COVID-19. Show your support with #hospitalweek, and send out your messages to those that are working so hard for us.
Andy Beshear: (10:46)
So today, Virginia, I would like for you to teach us, “Thank you, hospitals.” Thank you, hospitals. Thank you, hospitals. And thank you, Virginia. All right. I’m going to start with a couple of pieces of news, and then we’re going to get to our numbers. The first is that we are moving up just by a couple of days when Kentuckians can get together with gatherings of 10 people or less. We’re moving that up to the Friday before Labor Day. That’s the 22nd. I believe we currently had it at the 25th. We realize that people are making plans for Memorial Day. And I trust that we can do this right, that we can do this safely. And I’d much rather get out there with some good guidance and rules. If a number of people are going to do this anyways, and encourage you to do it well. Our guidance for this is up on our website. And please, if you’re going to have people over, follow it and do it, it’ll help protect you during this. Here’s a couple of points that are really important. Hold the gathering outside, whatever possible. If you think about a picnic, spreading those blankets out to where they are six feet apart from each other, you can still see each other, you can still talk and you’re outside. That’s a lot safer. Remain six feet apart from people who are not a part of your household. That doesn’t disappear in the 25 person or under gathering, it’s more important there than ever before.
Andy Beshear: (12:32)
Do not share food or drink, containers, plates, napkins, or utensils. So don’t do a buffet. I really wouldn’t do a potluck. As much as you can try to keep food and the other stuff separate. Sounds different than Memorial Day, but we’re doing it in a worldwide pandemic. And so hopefully just take and roll with these rules, the best that you can, so that you can be as protected as possible.
Andy Beshear: (13:01)
Wash your hands frequently before, during, and after the gathering, and make sure everybody else does too. During it, avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth, there are just more people and more contacts around you. So the more that you think about that, the better. And if you’ll be closer than six feet to somebody outside your household at any point, wear the mask. And that may just be, if you’re going to go through, if you’re going to go get some different things, wear it. And then when you sit down, you can take it off.
Andy Beshear: (13:32)
The other things that are important is, if you’re in the high risk area, over 65 with heart, lung, or kidney disease, don’t do this. It’s not safe for you to get together with the 10 people or less gathering. That’s not fair, but the virus isn’t either. And we know how deadly it is to those that have these preexisting conditions, especially to those in those age groups. And then it’s important to do the best you can to keep your kids socially distanced with other kids that are going to be there. So think ahead about the games that you can play. With my kids, it won’t be basketball, it’ll be laser tag, which I think they have. Ways that they can be far enough apart, still be having fun. So just plan ahead, be smart, know that this is out there, and then just try to do the very best you can following all these rules. I trust you. You’ve done a really good job thus far. Just be really thoughtful in how you do it, and how you go about it.
Andy Beshear: (14:33)
That day May 22nd is also when we’re going to let the travel ban expire. Now, the travel ban has been very important to where we are and to flattening the curve. And we still need to be very careful about where we travel to. If you were thinking about to the beach right now, it a still very dangerous, and remember there are hundreds of cases in Western Kentucky related to a trip to the beach. But if you have family that lives close by that’s coming in for Memorial day, again, you can socially distance. They don’t fall into the vulnerable categories. That’s at a place that we are now at, and we’re seeing a number of these travel bans expiring. It was very important when we put it into place, when we had cases doubling or tripling over a period of days or weeks. We don’t have that now, but let’s remember if we do have a spike, then we may have to take some of these steps again. We never did it to try to keep people from going places, we did it because it was necessary to save lives. And it did save lives.
Andy Beshear: (15:39)
Let me give you another piece of good news. We have been awarded an extra $43.7 million in CARES funding based on an application for me and the Education and Workforce Cabinet. 30 million of that is going to go through K through 12 here in Kentucky. The Lieutenant Governor, who we’re going to hear from in a minute was spearheaded…
Andy Beshear: (16:03)
… putting this together. It’s going to help with NTI and a lot of the costs that they had there. It’s going to prepare us to be able to do that better in the future. And the other 13 million and change is going to be administered by the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education, realizing and recognizing how important postsecondary education is. This is important funding. We had to work for it, but we have received approval for it and it’s going to certainly help our economy and that education sector. We have some other potential funding sources that are out there, state and federal, in the future that we’re going to announce when it’s right.
Andy Beshear: (16:43)
But let me again say that every state and every local government in the country is waiting on and is counting on Congress to pass a bill that provides direct budgetary relief. If they do not, this recession, which some have called a depression, we’re not there yet, but it might turn into one without that help. If Congress was willing to step up and do the right thing in ‘08, ‘09 during the Great Recession, surely they should be now. The only people that will be hurt if Congress doesn’t act are the people of Kentucky and every other state. Not a Democrat or Republican thing, even though it seems to be that that may be kind of the different sides of the argument, at least in Congress actually believe the president is supportive of state help. But it’s not with our states. You can ask Larry Hogan, you can ask Charlie Baker, two Republican governors that I agree fully with. This is just the absolute necessity in the world we’re in. We need them to act and the sooner, the better, whether that’s for our ratings, whether that’s for our ability to plan.
Andy Beshear: (17:53)
I can tell you right now, it’s going to be severe in every state and some of the most severe cuts we’ve ever seen in every state, not just this one if Congress doesn’t act. Congress is elected to represent the people. This is what the people must have, and the people demand it’s time for them to act.
Andy Beshear: (18:14)
All right. On to our numbers today, while they’re all in kind of the normal range, we see cases are a little bit up, but that’s our are down, which is good. So today, we’re reporting 199 new cases of COVID-19. As you’ll hear in a minute, we have a lot of tests though, test results that came back today. The 199, after we remove duplicates, people from out of state, raise our official state number to 7,225. 32 of those are probable, the rest of those are lab confirmed. That is out of a total number tested of 121,246. Again, these numbers get much bigger each day as our capacity significantly goes up.
Andy Beshear: (19:07)
I saw some recognition late in the day, about how much more testing that we have and how that compares to our population. I think we are moving towards a very good place on the testing front. I know that’s only one tool. But compared to the time when we couldn’t find swabs and we didn’t have enough labs, it’s just a very good sign there.
Andy Beshear: (19:29)
Total number of Kentuckians that were hospitalized 1,887, currently, 385. Ever in the ICU, 794, currently, 220. That’s up a little bit. So remember, it’s an intensive care unit and those people need your thoughts, your supports, your prayers, whatever you can give to them.
Andy Beshear: (19:50)
Total number recovered, 2,712. New cases by county: 37 in Jefferson, 32 in Fayette. Now, a lot of these are at the federal prison. And remember, they are in the custody of the United States government. And these are ones that … And we were working very hard to get them tested. I’m also working very hard to get all those corrections officers tested. Those are our people. They live in our communities. I want to make sure they are taken care of.
Andy Beshear: (20:23)
26 more in Warren County. Again, a significant outbreak there. 21 in Boone County. 8 in Ohio County, 7 in Kenton and Oldham, 6 in Hardin, 3 in Graves, Henderson and McCracken, and 2 in Ballard, Bullitt, Butler, Daviess, Grayson Hart, Letcher, Logan, Madison, Perry, Pike, Pulaski, Simpson and Webster and Warren, Adair, Allen, Barren, Boyd, Breckinridge, Campbell, Casey, Christian, Gallatin, Grant, Hancock, Henry, Jessamine, Lawrence, Mason, Muhlenberg, Nelson and Shelby.
Andy Beshear: (21:14)
And a few days ago, I started reading off some of the cases like I used to, just to remind folks that we don’t just have to protect ourselves, we have to protect our families. Yesterday, we had a lot of kids. Today, there are some. There aren’t as many thankfully, but they’re also not all in Warren County, which was yesterday. Again, this is just a couple out of this list, but it’s to raise our awareness to make sure we’re taking care of each other and that we realize that some of the things that we can’t do right now are to protect our families. 9-year-old from Breckinridge County, a 7-year-old from Boone County, a 9-year-old from Jefferson County, a 4-year-old from McCracken County. A 10-year-old from Warren County, 15-year-old from Jefferson, a 17-year-old from Boone, a four-year-old from Jefferson.
Andy Beshear: (22:09)
It’s just a couple of those examples because we paid attention to this in the beginning. And maybe because the numbers have increased, we haven’t as much, but let’s remember anybody can get this. And resilient or not, it can cause some real harm while they have it. Let’s keep everybody we can from getting it in the first place. Let’s make sure that we do better each and every day, knowing that, I mean that 10-year-old could be mine, it could be yours. So let’s continue to work really hard.
Andy Beshear: (22:42)
Today, we have one of the lower numbers of deaths we’ve announced in a long time. Today, it’s just two. But that’s still two Kentuckians that we have lost and it’s two Kentuckians whose families are going to miss them just as much as if it were 10 today. They are both from Grayson County. They’re an 82-year-old male and a 95-year-old female. I believe they were both from a longterm care settings.
Andy Beshear: (23:10)
Now, let’s make sure that we honor two just as much as we’ve honored every other one. So let’s light up our homes green, let’s light up our places of business. And if you’ve gone back to work, make sure you lighten that up green too when you leave. Every new light reminds us that we will make it, that color is the color of renewal, but it also shows compassion to those families. So let’s make sure we keep that up.
Andy Beshear: (23:37)
Breakdown of race and ethnicity. Overall cases on race, 73.61% white, 14.71% black or African American, about 6% Asian and 5 and a third percent multiracial, 87% non Hispanic, and 13% Hispanic on ethnicity of cases. On deaths on ethnicity, it’s really close to 98% non Hispanic, 2% Hispanic. That’s been pretty steady on race. 78% white, 18.77% black or African American, 2% Asian, 1% multiracial.
Andy Beshear: (24:22)
Let’s look at the longterm care facility numbers. We talked about how much testing that we are doing that is going to have an impact on our numbers, but we shouldn’t just be focused on the numbers. We should be focused on doing what it takes to protect, especially our most vulnerable population. 20 new residents, six new staff, two new deaths, same number of facilities.
Andy Beshear: (24:49)
All right. Also, I want to mention that we have our restaurant guidance that is up on the website. Things that restaurants will need to follow for their ability to open on the 22nd. Retail, which opens on the 20th is already up as well. With that, I want to ask the Lieutenant Governor to come up and give us an update on the Team Kentucky Fund, which I know is starting to send out dollars to help those who need it and make sure we all get through this and get through it together.
Lieutenant Governor: (25:28)
Thank you Governor and good evening Team Kentucky. I came to you with some good news today about the Team Kentucky Fund. And hopefully, I’m able to answer some very basic questions for both potential applicants and donors as we move forward with the Team Kentucky Fund.
Lieutenant Governor: (25:43)
First of all, the Team Kentucky application will be live tomorrow at 8:00 AM and people can begin completing those applications. It will be available to you online there at teamkyfund. ky.gov. So that is teamkyfund.ky.gov.
Lieutenant Governor: (26:06)
The first question is who qualifies, and the folks who qualify for getting funds from the Team Kentucky Fund are folks who have experienced a loss of employment due to COVID or a reduction of their income 50% or more due to COVID-19. So that can be a cut in hours or a cut in wages due to the COVID outbreak. The assistance will be provided in the form of vouchers. And those vouchers can be used to pay for rent, mortgage, electricity, gas, water, food, and groceries. There is a limit of up to a $1,000 per household of these vouchers to be used.
Lieutenant Governor: (26:49)
How will the funds be distributed? As mentioned before, we have partnered with Community Action Kentucky and the Community Action agencies have an office in every single Kentucky County, and they will help us distribute those funds that are available, and that will be done through their statewide network. This is the work that the Community Action already does every day. We are helping by supporting these funds.
Lieutenant Governor: (27:18)
What longterm services can applicants get with Community Action of Kentucky? And I think this is a very important point. Yes, the Team Kentucky fund exists to help folks who have been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic in the immediate future, but this partnership is able to provide so much more for Kentuckians and our families. Because once you have connected with the Community Action of Kentucky, you have access to all kinds of resources. At that point, Community Action can help you to find a job, if by chance you had lost your job due to COVID. They can help provide transportation for you and secure affordable housing. They can help lower your energy cost and provide support for seniors and food security, even early childhood services, parenting classes, health screenings, and nutritional programs. The Team Kentucky Fund is integral to today, but our partnership with Community Action will continue to pay dividends for folks down the road.
Lieutenant Governor: (28:20)
Because of the generosity of Team Kentucky, we currently have over $3 million in the Team Kentucky Fund. This money will go directly to every Kentuckian that applies that has been financially impacted by COVID-19. If you can give, then I hope that you will join me by visiting donate.ky.gov to give today. If you do give to the Team Kentucky Fund, your donation is tax deductible, and 100% of the proceeds go directly to Kentuckians. Again, you can find the application, if you are interested in applying to receive resources at teamkyfund.ky.gov. Thank you.
Michael Brown: (29:13)
Well, good afternoon. I’m Michael Brown, Secretary of the Cabinet, and I’d like to give a quick update on the situation at Green River. The situation is encouraging actually, and thanks to the work of a lot of folks, our health department, local health department, our corrections officers. And in fact, even the inmates themselves who have gone through a chaotic situation. We’ve got everyone separated into groups as I mentioned before. All the moves have taken place. That’s a big stabilization. And in fact, that’s reflected in our numbers.
Michael Brown: (29:47)
We still have only four hospitalized, two staff, and two inmates. We have had a total of 356 positive tests from inmates, but we’ve had 22 to recover, so we now have only 331 inmates who are positive there. We’ve had 50 staff members, but 28 of those have recovered and come back to work. And so that’s a positive thing.
Michael Brown: (30:12)
We still have only about eight tests that we’re waiting to come back to see if they’re false negative or where they stand. We’re taking great efforts, as you know, about the separation of the populations into the positive, the negative who are exposed and negative who are not exposed. And in fact, the vulnerable group. Those groups were actually started retesting. We’ve already retested all those in the vulnerable group. And then we’re going to move forward to test those who have been exposed, those who are negative, and those again, who are positive.
Michael Brown: (30:45)
A lot of work on PPE and protective stuff. We have distributed, I know it’s an odd number, but 2,395 masks have been distributed. Every inmate has two and they’ll get another one on Monday. We’ve got 10 bottles of sanitizing spray in each dorm. We’ve got a refillable bottles for each cell and there’s hand sanitizer available when the inmates need it.
Michael Brown: (31:15)
The good news, as this gets stabilized, is hopefully as we go along, all the inmates have been moved, that was very chaotic, but now they’re grouped and we’re looking to get some normal activities back into play. We can get some folks outside for a little while, get away, get some exercise, get some air, get some sun. And again, it’s been a cooperative effort. And if these numbers continue, it will be good news for all of us.
Michael Brown: (31:42)
A reminder, we have 11 other institutions who have no tests reported at all.
Andy Beshear: (31:54)
A very quick update on unemployment insurance, and then we’ll have more in depth in the days to come.
Andy Beshear: (32:03)
Over a nine week period, March through April, we’ve now fully processed 88% of all initial claims, and payments have gone out on all of those. I know that still leaves 12%. Some of which are going to have complications in their claim. This is the federal government that sets the rules and the hoops we have to jump through that says, “If you check a wrong box, then it’s going to take time to fix it.” Says, “If your employer contests it, that we got to go through a big, long process.” There’s nothing we can do to change that, but we can and we will work with you. I will say we compare favorably with some other states. I think Florida’s received a million claims and paid out 479,000. So significantly less than our 88%. Think Arizona is pretty close to that too, and others. But if you haven’t been helped yet I take responsibility. We will work faster. We will do more.
Andy Beshear: (33:02)
And in the future, we ought to have better customer service than we’ve had. We all realize that. And it’s our job to do better, not going to run from it, going to learn from it. And hopefully we’ll treat everybody better, and make sure that we can do this faster, that we will never, ever, ever in our lifetime face this amount of claims ever again. But through going through it, I hope we realize that we can’t starve the system. We can’t leave the next administration like we had it with just a tiny number of people. That this has got to be a healthy area of state government that is ready and able to step up when needed. Finally, want to mention testing. Testing is critically important. If we’re going to do this safely, we now have the capacity to test more than what the White House suggests that we need to test every month to successfully reopen our economy in our slow, gradual, safe way.
Andy Beshear: (34:08)
But to do that, we need you to sign up. Kroger testing, let’s start with. It is open to everyone. Meaning if you are in any of these areas, you need to get a test. Our locations starting on Tuesday, are Graves County, Madison County, and Ohio County. Graves and Ohio have had a significant number of cases. Just because you think a number of them are in the longterm care facility, they had to get in there and they can come out of that facility too. So make sure that you get a test. I want to fill up every single one of the 1200 slots in Graves, in Ohio, and Madison as well. Jefferson, we continue to be there. We’ve got a number cases in Jefferson. It’s our largest county, by a significant degree, we want to make sure we fill up every slot there too.
Andy Beshear: (35:07)
The more we do this, the more testing we have, the safer you are. And the more we know what we’re able to reopen, because we know how many folks out there have it, but aren’t showing the signs. I will say that the data we’ve gotten from this for the general population is encouraging. And it’s one of the reasons we were able to put dates on a number of phase two things, that we previously hadn’t. Now we’ve got locations all over the state for this week and for next. It’s not just Kroger. It’s also Walmart. It’s Walgreens. It’s so many labs teaming up with our local health departments. It’s our hospitals, Murray Calloway, Pikeville Medical Center, and many others. No excuse anymore, no matter where you are in the Commonwealth, there’s one pretty close to you. Let’s make sure that we get people tested. We got the opportunity to get up close to… Even up to past the 88,000 we want per month. I think we have an opportunity to get to about 150,000 during each month. That’ll make us all a whole lot safer.
Andy Beshear: (36:25)
I love seeing this. I can just have a candid moment. There were moments in time when people really needed tests and we just didn’t have them. I mean this, in a totally new virus, it’s where we were. And then we were at a place where you couldn’t get enough swabs, and we didn’t have a big lab sitting in our backyard. Look at where we are today, with three labs that can now kick out between them, enough capacity to meet what the White House says, and we need, and then even more. I remember when everybody in my office was on the phone chasing down leads for PPE, I called it a Charlie Brown trying to kick the football again and Lucy always pulling it out, because none of them came through.
Andy Beshear: (37:16)
Now we have enough PPE for the self administered tests, especially to do this. This is the resourcefulness of Kentuckians. And now look at how many people are willing to do it, too. And this is really a state coming together in an incredible way. And I will tell you a month ago, sitting in my office, this is something I would have prayed for, but seeing it up here is pretty special. And I know that we in state government did some work, but I know a whole lot of other people, hospital systems, individuals, and others are how this happened.
Andy Beshear: (37:57)
Our story in Kentucky. I don’t know if that’ll be told when we look back at all this, but our story in Kentucky will be that we protected each other. Everything from social distancing to the testing, to our partnerships, to how we’ll do the contact tracing. It’ll be that we protected each other during this. Kentuckians for Kentuckians. All right, let’s move to questions. We have four journalists with us. We have Karen Saar who celebrated a birthday this week. We have Stu Johnson. I won’t tell them which birthday. I also don’t know. We have Sarah Lad and we have Mike Valentae. And then I have some questions right here as well. Let’s start with Mike.
Mike Valentae: (38:45)
Can you walk through your rationale and why you feel comfortable specifically moving up the date for the gatherings of ten people or less and letting the travel ban expire May 22nd. Is there something you’re seeing in the data?
Andy Beshear: (38:58)
The question is why do I feel comfortable moving the gatherings of ten people or less, up three days and separately letting the travel ban expire. So I’ve got to live in the real world, just like everybody else and moving the travel day up three days when right now it’s the Monday of Memorial day. I understand what people are going to want to do. And my job is to try to get the best results, right? And it’s a pretty simple equation, what the best results are. It’s the restrictions that people are willing to live with and follow, and then the maximum number of people that are willing to do that. And so, yes, we’re always tinkering a little bit to try to get it right. Because remember, this is a virus where one person doing the wrong thing can spread it to a bunch of people doing the right thing.
Andy Beshear: (39:45)
We do see very, I see very positive signs. And especially the data about the general public, which we see a lot of the Kroger drive throughs. What I see is that people are good at following the rules and are going to try to do it right. So now with the three days, I’m comfortable. It also gives time. And I’m going to talk about it every day. So I’m now going to talk every day that we have one of these, I’m going to talk about how to safely bring ten people together, and hope by that Friday that we are ready to do it right. And please do it right.
Andy Beshear: (40:21)
The travel ban is a little different, we don’t live in a vacuum. We see what other states around us are doing. Again, wanting to make things as safe as possible, but we also don’t have the same type of Exodus that we were seeing from hotspots that we previously had, especially with New York and New Jersey.
Andy Beshear: (40:43)
So, feel more comfortable about where some of our neighboring states are, but I think it’s the right time. And again, our goal was never to just have restrictions. Our goal is to save lives when the pandemic looked like it was getting worse and worse. So you let off the brakes a little bit now, knowing that you’ll reapply them, if you have to. All right, Senator McConnell’s office sent out a release saying Kentucky received 97.7 million to increase Coronavirus testing, with the funding made available by the Senators Paycheck Protection Program and Healthcare Enhancement Act. How much of a factor is that in the state’s recent progress on testing?
Andy Beshear: (41:28)
We haven’t received any of that money yet. From what I understand that pot of money is. It requires that we submit a number of things which we’re going to, I mean, we want to take advantage of every dollar that’s that’s provided. Certainly the dollars from the first CARES act are being used to support our testing program. Everything we buy from Gravity and from others, our Kroger site and the rest. So while this release, hasn’t improved our testing, we’re certainly using other federal dollars that have come in. Stu?
Stu Johnson: (42:04)
You mentioned the prison in Lexington, and they had 229 cases of all the inmates, up 63 from yesterday. Is there a [inaudible 00:42:15] in dealing with that situation and is there anything from Green River that could be used [inaudible 00:42:21].
Andy Beshear: (42:23)
Yeah. The question is about the Federal Medical Centers, what it’s called, which means there’s lots of people who are fragile in it. In Lexington, a federal prison that has now a significant number of positive cases. And what’s the role of the state? Well, the challenge is being a federal prison. They have total jurisdiction over the inmates, but I will admit that I’ve been very strong, and pressed very hard on the corrections officers. Those are our folks, and I want to make sure we protect them and I’ve pushed and I’ve pushed, to get every single corrections officer tested, something that I know that that should be in our authority, and that’s going to happen. The, group is working with us. Though, they’ve also got to deal with all the bureaucracy on the federal side. And I don’t know or understand any of that.
Andy Beshear: (43:14)
But my job is the employees, our Kentuckians who are there. Now what we’ve seen in Green River, yes, I think is when you have an outbreak, what you ought to do, test everybody. And sometimes people get scared of that. They say, “Well, if we test everybody and half our workforce leaves…” Well, if that’s the case, half your workforce has COVID-19, and we need to help them. Or if they say, “We’re not going to have enough facilities.” Well, then you need to start looking at other facilities, solving any problem requires knowing the level of the problem before taking the steps that you need to take. So certainly my strong recommendation to the federal government is test all the inmates. And you know what we’ll we’ll provide, at this point, we provide the tests. I’m not sure that we could have enough to get everybody all at once, but if it would protect them, even though they’re not under our jurisdiction, we would at least connect them with the lab that I know can bill Medicaid and Medicare, that would get it done.
Andy Beshear: (44:14)
Fair question. How are we supposed to file our taxes or even pay our bills when we can’t talk to a human on the phone from unemployment? That’s fair. We’re working, we’re trying to do better. As it turned out, just having more people to answer phones doesn’t necessarily get you an answer, or a better answer. We’re down again to about the 12%, but we need to do a better job of communicating, if there is a challenge with your claim, what it is and how long that it may take. We’ll work to improve every single day. Karen.
Karen Saar: (44:57)
We’ve heard from people who are now getting eviction notices. How long can they extend and help those people? And one case in particular, she’s a single mom. She hadn’t gotten her unemployment, so she finally got it. She tried to pay the rent and they’re like, “You all these fees.” And they’ve handed her the notice, told her to get an attorney. What can people do?
Andy Beshear: (45:18)
Well, you can’t evict people from their homes right now. You can’t be healthy at home if you’re booted from your home. And we have an order in that prevents that. And so a landlord trying to evict someone unless they’ve committed a crime, or are causing serious damage, aren’t doing the right thing. So we’re happy to send that over to the Labor Cabinet and look at it directly. As I said, at the end of this, we’re going to have to try to make everybody whole, those of the individuals. Those of the property owners, but don’t kick anybody out right now. It’s not the right thing to do. And there are some repercussions, if it is done wrongly,
Speaker 2: (45:57)
Is there a cutoff date yet? [crosstalk 00:45:58]
Andy Beshear: (45:58)
I’ll have to look at that. If there is, I’m going to re-up it until we know that we are out of the woods. All right, Center For Investigative Reporting. If a municipality wants to open up more slowly than other parts of the state, are they allowed to, would they have to clear that with the Governor’s Office? Or can they act independently? If there is an area that is suffering from a significant outbreak, and they want to open up more slowly, that’s something we absolutely want to talk to them about. Those specific challenges, we want to make sure that we would recognize and work with any of those individuals. We haven’t had any of those requests. We have had some requests on the other side, but again, this virus doesn’t know county lines. One person traveling from one place to another can cause an outbreak, and an outbreak can really swiftly in different areas.
Andy Beshear: (46:55)
We have a good schedule. We have a schedule, that while being slower than the most aggressive, which I don’t want to be the most aggressive, that’s the most risk. It is faster than a lot of others. And I think it’s starting to be recognized as the type of plan that mitigates our risk to the extent we can, while at the same time reinvigorating our economy. And we just got to know that the states that are going to come out of this with the strongest economies, aren’t the ones that push fastest. They’re going to be the ones that do it the smartest, then don’t have to shut down. Sarah.
Sarah Lad: (47:30)
Yes, do you have any concerns or thoughts about Jefferson County only having one in-person voting location for the primary?
Andy Beshear: (47:35)
So the question is on Jefferson County and having only one voting location. In an ideal world, we would have more. I know one issue there and I was advised of it today, is that there are over 70 different types of ballots that Jefferson County has. So I used to live in a Sixth Class city there called Riverwood. And during elections, we’d have to elect our commissioners, which are the people that volunteered for punishment. But with that number of ballots-
Andy Beshear: (48:03)
… I know that they have a real challenge on how they would distribute those and how they would do it. So my goal is to work with them. And I know the Secretary of State is to try to make it as easy as they can. Now, when the portal is available for absentee voting, for the rest of the state, I know Jefferson County is a little bit ahead. I’m going to talk about it every day because every Kentuckian should vote absentee in this election. It is the safest way. We want to make sure that we get as many people doing it. It’ll mean they don’t have to take a trip anywhere at all. I believe the postage is going to be paid for, and we want to try to make that available as well to people that don’t have some of the same resources as others.
Andy Beshear: (48:46)
I want to make sure that the zip code you live in doesn’t prevent you from voting absentee. That’s why the postcard will come to you and we’ll have to do some education around that as well. In an ideal non-COVID world, there would be multiple, but I do want to recognize the challenges that are there, and I want to get everybody to vote absentee. It’s the safest way. And I bet at the end of the day, when we look back at the amount of participation in this primary, it’ll be really interesting because it’s more similar to a vote by mail though it’s not. It’ll be really interesting to look at the numbers of participation versus some other primaries.
Andy Beshear: (49:28)
All right. As more businesses begin to reopen, what happens if an employee does not want to go back to work because they’re making more money on unemployment? I’ve heard this from a couple of circles, but the extra unemployment during COVID-19 is something that we all should support. I mean, these are families that are struggling. Typically you don’t get your full amount, you just get a certain percentage. And this is a time when people are struggling just to get by. I don’t think we are going to see this as an issue. I think there’s certainly going to be a lot of people out there that can fill those jobs. And I think people are ready to get back to work as long as it can be done safely. But now let’s not open a place of work, not do the safety things and try to blame it on the amount of unemployment. Create a clean, safe work environment and I know Kentuckians will be ready. We’ll fill it up and we’ll be so productive.
Andy Beshear: (50:29)
President Trump keeps saying that he believes there was a pent up demand suggesting that once restrictions are loose and people will get out there and spend money as they’d previously done. Do you share that belief? And would you encourage Kentuckians once things are relaxed to go out there and spend money, or you’d advise them to take a more cautious approach?
Andy Beshear: (50:47)
That’s an interesting question. The question is that the President has apparently said that he believes there’s a pent up… What’s your word?
Andy Beshear: (50:56)
Demand, that folks want to get out there and want to spend money in the economy. I think it all depends on how safe it is and when it’s safe. So certainly I believe that the hit our economy is taking is temporary. Now we might not be able to get back to where the economy was right before it for some period of time, but I’ll tell you what, I mean, the day after that vaccine comes out, it’s been proven safe and you get it. I think people are going to be out spending their money in lots of different ways. I mean, that’s going to be a heck of a day that I look forward to. And folks it’s coming. We can’t tell you when, but it’s coming. And we’re going to be all right when we ultimately get through this.
Andy Beshear: (51:40)
I think I used to say that a lot. We are. We are. It’s just a slog to get there, but we’re going to be all right. So certainly when we’re at that point, I see that. Until then, we got to be smart for people to have the confidence to do that. We got to have the right rules in place. Certainly, I’m telling you the more people that wear masks in a facility, the more people that are going to go to it because they feel safer. The more that we are able to do healthy at work in that slow gradual way. And we don’t see an increase in cases, the more people are going to feel good about getting out and spending their dollars. How well we do it will depend on how fast the economy comes back. Not how quickly we open things up, but how well we do it because you’re already seeing in some states there’s openings, but there’s not people going to them because they don’t have the confidence in its safety. We’re going to do this safely.
Andy Beshear: (52:40)
The Jefferson Town City Council has sent me a letter strongly urging that at the conclusion of phase one of the reopening that I broadly reopened the economy to include virtually all businesses and civic activities. Well, I haven’t received this letter and I don’t know if they have a Department of Public Health that’s advising them, but I do. And I will tell you that that wouldn’t be safe. It wouldn’t follow the White House’s guidelines. And so I guess at the end of the day, we can believe the experts. We can believe the plan the White House has put out. We can believe the plan that we’ve put out that tracks it pretty closely, or we can want to do something else. But my job isn’t to be popular, my job is to try to make the right decisions to protect the most people that we can.
Andy Beshear: (53:28)
Also questions about daycare centers. When will our guidance be out? We hope soon, but it’s hard. I mean, this is one of the hardest ones, and I’ve tried to be really transparent about that. And we want to get it right, but we certainly will have it out two to three weeks before that June 15th date. Again, this is going to be one of the most challenging ones. I know it’s necessary and I believe in it, but if we get it wrong, it’s a challenge. And we’re also watching, just watching this new complication that at least a couple of Kentucky children have had, and now has happened in about 11 States. Still rare and I’m not trying to alarm people. We’re trying to be open and transparent that it’s out there, but we definitely want to see what it is. Because if it occurs six to eight weeks after a child has potentially contracted COVID-19 well, we’re what about 12 weeks into this from our very first? Our very first case was March 6th. So I’m just trying to make sure that we are not only getting the rules right, but we’re watching this thing to make sure it doesn’t suddenly magnify.
Andy Beshear: (54:39)
Where were we, Stu?
Stu Johnson: (54:44)
I have a good friend who was tested for COVID recently. He and his wife known she’d been exposed to someone with the disease. Thankfully it came back negative, but he asked me what about two to three weeks [crosstalk 00:54:53] re-tested.
Andy Beshear: (54:55)
So, a friend of Stu’s believed that they were exposed to someone with COVID-19 and went to get tested. And they tested negative. You know, again, even if you’re around somebody, if people are doing what they should, wearing masks, you’re not touching your hands and face. You’re using hand sanitizer. Those are can be really effective ways, but the question is, should they get tested again in a period of time? Yes. Now that it’s available. Now that they can, I’d suggest in about two weeks, 10 days, they do it again. The timing that you get tested can have an impact on the result. They should feel good. They should take precautions, but yes, I would get another test. And depending on how long this is going, people getting periodic tests is a smart thing. Just because I’m negative today. Doesn’t mean I can’t contract it from someone tomorrow. It’s not meant to be scary. It’s just to get us on a schedule and for us to be vigilant. I mean, if you think about it, we’re supposed to go in for a physical once a year. And some of us do that. And some of us do it once every couple years. But thinking about that, as we move forward in this is a smart approach.
Andy Beshear: (56:08)
I think you asked the same question I got from Phillip. So yes, Karen.
Karen Saar: (56:15)
I’m doing a story [inaudible 00:56:15] younger children who have gone back to work and their kids are dealing with some pretty extreme separation anxiety after [crosstalk 00:56:23] “Don’t go out. Don’t go out. Don’t go out.” Some of them have more resources than others. Do you have any suggestions, resources that you can point them to?
Andy Beshear: (56:36)
That’s a really good point. It’s a question about kids whose parents are going back to work after we’ve been saying, “Don’t go out. Stay healthy at home.” And suffering from the anxiety of that. And we really have to recognize that, and we have to recognize our own anxiety. Not just having been at home, but now going out and being around other people. I sometimes wonder, are we ever going to be the same around crowds? I mean, I think less than two years ago, I was in a crowd of 10,000 people outside of this Capitol. And admittedly, very happy about it. I mean, what exactly, how are we going to feel and react and what is our world as we move forward from this? We can and will, and I’m looking at Eric Freelander back there, put together some materials for kids and we’ll get them up on our website as well. Let’s make sure, and I want to make sure, that we get the professionals that can communicate that best. I know one of the earliest videos we did for little kids about the Coronavirus was really helpful. And admittedly, we’ve fallen out of practice a little bit on that. Now we’re going back to healthy at work. That’s a really good reminder that we should do that.
Andy Beshear: (57:47)
Yeah. So we’ve heard from some businesses that are unclear about where they fall, what category they fall under, particularly entertainment venues and bowling alleys. [inaudible 00:57:58]
Andy Beshear: (57:57)
That’s a good question. So entertainment venues, it would depend on the type. We still haven’t gotten to bowling alleys, though that’s certainly phase two. Let us figure out where that falls in. A bowling alley that does the right type of sanitation that separates out on lanes that follows everything we do for food service. At the right time and with the right guidance could operate, we believe safely. Now it’s a lot of cleaning, but it’s cleaning that that can be done. If you want to provide us some of those examples, we need that. And because it’s hard to think through and to hit all of them. But I do like that businesses are asking that because they’re looking for the type of guidance that they should follow. And what we seen and sure there are a couple of exceptions, but we see people wanting to do this right.
Andy Beshear: (58:49)
And I’ve talked about how I’ve never been prouder to be Kentucky’s governor. In all of these steps and sure there’s disagreement sometimes and there’s anxiety, but in all these steps, people really seem to want to do the right thing. And that’s just so important going forward.
Andy Beshear: (59:07)
So let me close with the fact that I’m proud of Kentucians. We wouldn’t be where we are. We wouldn’t be with the testing capacity we have, we wouldn’t be in the process of safely and gradually reopening. Without the hard work, the dedication, but also the kindness and compassion of so many that are out there. Remember that while we get closer to the light at the end of the tunnel, there’s still longer to go. And I think I was reminded today that there are still people out there that are suffering, not just economically. We talk about that every day, but emotionally.
Andy Beshear: (59:45)
So let’s remember to reach out to one another, to ask how we’re doing, to ask if people need help. While you can’t put out that hand physically, that helping hand in every way that you can. One of the reasons we’re here today in a better position than most is because we truly care about each other. And so let’s continue to do that. And remember, while starting the Friday of Memorial Day, we’re going to be able to get together in groups of 10 or less. We got to be very careful about how we do it. This is another step of trust. And it’s not trust between you and me, though if you want to view it that way, I’d be very proud of you if you followed all of those rules. It’s about trust in each other when our actions can impact someone else that we have never met. So let’s make sure that we continue to live for one another, that we follow that golden rule, and we do what it takes to defeat COVID-19 while reopening our economy.
Andy Beshear: (01:00:46)
So we’re going to close today with the recognition of those great folks that work in our hospitals, because this is Hospital Week. Please use that hashtag #hospitalweek to thank them. See you tomorrow at 5: 00.