May 19, 2020
Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear COVID-19 Briefing Transcript May 19
Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear held his May 19 press conference. Beshear announces outdoor attractions and libraries can open June 8. Read the full speech transcript of all updates here.
Transcribe Your Own Content
Try Rev for free and save time transcribing, captioning, and subtitling.
Andy Beshear: (00:00)
Coming together at a time where it’s very difficult to get together. It’s about sharing our anxieties, it’s about sharing our fears, it’s about letting ourselves be vulnerable because we all feel the same. And it’s about recommitting to defeating this virus, but also remembering that we’re going to get through this and we’re going to get through it together. So say it with me, “We’re going to get through this. We’re going to get through this together.” One last time. ” We’re going to get through this. We’re going to get through this together.” That’s going to be the best known sign language, I think, in Kentucky, by the time we’re done Virginia. By the way, congratulations on the Bobblehead. It is well-deserved, both for you and for what it represents, so we’re excited about that.
Andy Beshear: (00:53)
We’re going to get through this because we have shown that we can take those basic guidelines, that we can take the science, that we can take the advice from public health and we can make it a part of our everyday lives. That’s why we talk about the rules for being healthy at work, because I know you already know the rules for being healthy at home. When you look through and you think about these rules, these are the things that make us safe. Let’s talk today about onsite temperature and health checks. There are different things that people may at different times object to. I mean, some people have objected to masks. The challenging part about that is you can object to a mask on your own personal health, but it’s not your own personal health that it’s going to impact. It’s other people’s health. So it’s more about your willingness to protect other people if you’re wearing or not wearing one.
Andy Beshear: (01:50)
But temperature checks are one that are so important, because shame on us, if we miss that blatant sign that somebody might be infecting other people. If you think about it, so many people are asymptomatic that many times we can’t see and we can’t know when somebody has the coronavirus, but by doing a temperature check, it means that if you are going to a place of business and you are healthy, that we can at least hopefully identify somebody that didn’t know they have it, didn’t know they had a fever. They don’t want to walk in and infect other people and you don’t want them to either. So just one really common sense step, again, pushed by the White House, adopted by us here in Kentucky, and one we need businesses, individuals and everybody else coming together to say, “Well, this is just smart.”
Andy Beshear: (02:43)
Now, we have these tools, let’s make sure that we are smart in the way that we are addressing COVID-19. So we talk about the 10 steps and we talk about our 11th. Fill out your census. We are still in 13th place. I don’t like being stuck in the rankings. I don’t know about you. None of us are ever excited when our teams are just stuck in the rankings. So let’s fill out the census. Let’s make sure that we get the federal dollars that should be coming to Kentucky. It’s incredibly important for our next 10 plus years. Billions, upon billions, upon billions of dollars. Let’s make sure we do this, just a couple minutes, to be a good citizen. Outside of this, what we’ve asked is for people, especially after we are going back to work, trying to be healthy at work, to fill up social media with the types of behaviors that we really need to see. These are the hashtags we use that keep growing because our approach has to be fluid. We have to do what it takes to defeat this virus and healthy at work is our newest hashtag. So let’s see what we have today. Yeah, this is pretty neat. These two individuals, Jasmine and I believe her sister, talking about their grandmother who was diagnosed with stage four lung cancer that had metastasized to her brain four years ago, she had beaten the odds and now they know that she’s vulnerable, especially to something like COVID-19.
Andy Beshear: (04:25)
Now, a lot of our loved ones out there are in these type of situations, vulnerable to it. So look at them, both wearing their masks, both making sure they’re staying on the other side of the glass. Don’t we owe it to them to also wear a mask? Don’t we owe it to them to do things the right way, knowing that it could impact their loved one? I think we do. And they’re setting a really great example.
Andy Beshear: (04:49)
All right. This is state representative Kelly Flood, who has just gotten tested at the Walgreens location in Lexington. Very quick to sign up, got through the drive through and getting the results back very quickly. Representative Flood is setting the example. We have the capacity now, but you need to get tested. You need to get tested because we need to know if you have the virus, and it’s going to be a lot of peace of mind for you to know that you don’t, but we also need you to get tested because that helps us know about the general amount of asymptomatic people that are out there. Something little that can help all of us. All right. This is healthy habits turning into a healthy lifestyle. Just because we’re healthy at home and healthy at work doesn’t mean we can’t get out and be physically healthy. I know there’s a worry that the COVID-19 can lead to obesity, given that we’re not out and about as much, but this family has run the marathon together that they otherwise would have run in Bowling Green. Now’s the chance. I mean, surely we can watch this virus that is deadly to those that aren’t healthy enough and say, “Let’s all get healthier. Let’s all get in better shape.” I know I’m trying, it can be hard during these times, but we ought to take this as a lesson out of COVID-19, that the healthier that we get, the more resilient we will be if we ever see this again or something like this in our lifetime. All right, so this is in Dare County with Family First setting up a new drive through testing site. Community leaders, community organizations, coming together, meeting this testing challenge. It’s been special to see. I like that phrase they have up there in the background. Here is Lost River Cave, again, standing with all of us, with the community that they serve, knowing that there are many lost loved ones out there, and we’re going to lose more people as we go forward. It’s a time where it’s very hard to come together for our grief, so let’s make sure that we light our houses and our places of business and our landmarks up green to honor those that we have lost.
Andy Beshear: (07:23)
So we’ve tried to take positive lessons through this, where we can find them, and one has been how we include everybody, which is why we have been learning sign language. So today what we’re learning is you be safe. All right, you be safe. You be safe. One more time, you be safe. Thank you, Virginia.
Andy Beshear: (07:49)
All right, to our numbers today. And today’s one of those days where there is… Yeah, sorry. Right before we get to that, we did have something pretty special today. This is a video of some of our faith leaders. I believe they’re all Presbyterian ministers talking about the reason that they wear masks. I know for me, a large part of it comes from faith, comes from living the golden rule of making sure that I’m protecting and loving my neighbor as I would myself or my own family.
Rachel Matthews: (08:33)
Wearing a mask is how I show I love my neighbors.
Beth G.: (08:41)
Wearing a mask is how I protect the vulnerable.
John Leggett: (08:50)
Wearing a mask is how I show love for my neighbors.
Billy Adams: (08:53)
Wearing a mask is how I show I love my neighbors.
Matt Falco: (08:56)
Wearing a mask is how I show I love my neighbors.
Ray M.: (09:04)
Jesus said, love your neighbor as yourself. This is the way I’m loving my neighbor these days.
Rob Warren: (09:16)
Love does not seek its own way. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes and always perseveres. I love my neighbor so I choose to wear the mask.
Sara Benedetti: (09:31)
Wearing a mask is how I show that I love my neighbors.
Andrew Bowman: (09:34)
Wearing a mask is how I show that I love my neighbor.
Schuyler Olt: (09:47)
My mask says, I love you. Spread love, not germs.
Stephen Fearing: (09:55)
Wearing a mask is how I show I love my neighbors.
Lisa Eye: (10:04)
Wearing a mask is how I show my neighbors I love them.
Philip Lotspeich: (10:13)
I wear a mask not because I’m afraid, I wear a mask not because I lack faith. I wear a mask because I love my neighbor.
Hyeon Lee: (10:24)
I’m wearing this mask because I love my neighbors.
Andy Beshear: (10:41)
These can be hard, difficult, lonely times. It feels like they have dragged on, but I know many of us out there, me included, have turned to our faith during this time even more to push us forward. The leadership that our faith leaders have shown has been incredible. They have done things that they never expected that they would have to do in their leadership roles. My faith teaches me that if it protects other people that I will do difficult and uncomfortable things because I also love my neighbor.
Andy Beshear: (11:19)
All right. Our numbers today are both good and bad. The good side is that our number of cases are down right about where that plateau has been. 164 new cases. After the last several days, duplicates out of state folks are removed. It brings our total number of cases to 8,069. 8,069. 90 of those are probable so that’s another reason the numbers change and that they will become at some point lab confirmed or not hopefully. Our new cases by County are 50 in Jefferson, 33 in Fayette, 22 in Warren, 10 in Kenton, seven in Boone, three in Campbell, Davis, Harden and Oldham, two in Allen, Bullet, Franklin, Grayson, Logan, Ohio, and Shelby, and one in Boyle, Breckenridge, Calloway, Carter, Christian, Clay, Edmonson, Henderson, Henry, Hopkins, Madison, Muhlenberg, Nelson, Simpson, Whitley, and Wolf. There are now very few counties that haven’t had at least one case.
Andy Beshear: (12:42)
Is that of a total number now tested 153,800 and I think that’s about 8,500 plus up from the other day. Again, our testing number’s significantly increasing. That’s a good thing, and it’s going to help us to be safer going forward. It’s something that I am so thankful for having now lived through not having enough tests, not having tests at all originally to a brand new virus, to where we are today.
Andy Beshear: (13:12)
Total number of Kentuckians ever hospitalized 2010, currently 443, ever in the ICU 875, currently 269. Number of recovered, my favorite number, 2,826. But then there’s the really tough news, and that’s that today we have lost, I believe more people to the coronavirus than on any other day before. We’re announcing that we’ve lost 20 Kentuckians today. Some of this is based on the reporting times of other counties or various, but we haven’t announced these 20 individuals. So while I believe that we can reopen and reopen safely, if we do it gradually, let’s remember this thing’s still deadly and it’s still taking people we love and care about. And 20th is a hard number, that’s a tough number.
Andy Beshear: (14:09)
It’s better than numbers that many of our neighbors may read off on a daily basis, but these are my people, these are your families, and we never want to see losing 20 Kentuckians in a given day. Each one of them is more than an age and a gender and a county. But I’m going to read that information for all 20 of them.
Andy Beshear: (14:36)
Let’s start with an 80 year old man from Davis County, an 88 year old male from Logan County, an 83 year old male from Edmonson County, a 76 year old female from Davis County, an 87 year old male from Edmonson County, an 80 year old female from Edmonson County, a 70 year old male from Campbell County, an 84 year old female from Kenton County,-
Andy Beshear: (15:03)
… a 61 year old male from Allen County. An 88 year old male from Warren County. An 89 year old female from Kenton County. 84 year old female from Jefferson County. 84 year old male from Boone County. 93 year old female from Boone County. 83 year old male from a Adair County. 76 year old female from Adair County. 83 year old female from Adair County. A 60 year old female from Logan County. A 77 year old female from Jefferson County. A 63 year old male from Breckenridge County.
Andy Beshear: (15:44)
20 Kentuckians today. Tough day. Let’s make sure that just like every day we’re lighting our homes up green. That we ring our bells tomorrow at 10:00 AM. That we don’t get tired any night or any day from doing the right thing to honor these families. And you look at some of these communities and the loss they’ve suffered with Adair County and Edmondson County today. Northern Kentucky, the Owensboro region. Now it’s hard and its hit some areas harder than others and harder than it ever should. And to those counties and to these families, we want to grieve with you. We want to be there for you. That this is a one in every a hundred year worldwide health pandemic, but it doesn’t make your loss any less. And we know it’s harder to grieve. So we’re thinking about you. We want to help you. It’s a tough day on this side in Kentucky.
Andy Beshear: (16:50)
Going through the ethnicity and race of known cases on ethnicity, 86%, non-Hispanic and roughly 14% Hispanic. And on race, 74% white, 14.8% black or African-American, 5.87% Asian, 5.26% multiracial. On deaths, again, today’s a hard day. 97.73% non-Hispanic, and 2.27% Hispanic. That’s ethnicity on race, 77.74% white, 18.9% black or African American, 1.83% Asian, 1.52% multiracial.
Andy Beshear: (17:40)
Let’s look at longterm care facilities where a number, but not all of today’s reports came from now. 1,116 residents have tested positive. That’s an addition of 1,232 additional staff. And this is because we are testing everybody at these facilities. Remember this was our week with 3,000 plus tests. And what we’re finding out, whether it’s a prison or a longterm care facility or anywhere else, when we test all the staff, we have a lot of asymptomatic staff. Which makes it really important that we test to make sure we’re not further spreading things in facilities. And then we have seven additional deaths. All seven are residents. Four additional facilities that have at least one positive. This continues to be the challenge though I believe that what we have going right now is one of the best efforts in the country at protecting our individuals that are in longterm care. And we are going to make it to every single one of those facilities, which is our goal.
Andy Beshear: (18:51)
Before I talk about healthy at work, given some of the numbers today, I’m going to ask Dr. Stack to talk about Memorial Day. Starting on Memorial day, before Memorial Day, Friday, are going to be able to have groups of 10 or less over. Now we can do this and we can do this safely, but we need to be really careful about it. And I know Kentucky that you can do it. But I think it’s helpful to have some pointers and to have some additional knowledge about how we do it.
Andy Beshear: (19:23)
My dad in some of the biggest moments of my life gave me some really interesting advice. He’d say, “Son, this is really important. Don’t screw it up.” Well, this is our first chance to get together with people that we have missed. And this is our first chance to have a lot of additional contacts that are out there. We want to reopen our economy. We want to get things humming again in a safe way this weekend. We can’t screw it up. We got to make sure that we follow the best guidelines and that we learn from where mistakes have been made. So with that, Dr. Stack
Dr. Stack: (20:07)
[inaudible 00:20:07] Virginia. Thank you, Governor. James, if you could put the first slide up. So I’m going to set the context here to lead up to the guidance… the other one. The gatherings one. So I’m going to set the stage here for what we’re going to give you for the guidance for a 10 people or less gatherings as you go into Memorial Day weekend. So the CDC, the federal government Centers for Disease Control, so the national experts on disease management, released today a new report. This is not unlike last week. I had a different infographic that talked about the spread of disease in a group setting. This one came out today, shared this example from Arkansas, where two individuals went to that happens to be a church service, but I’m going to make the point here in a minute. It’s not just churches. So went to a church service, before they had symptoms. They didn’t know they were sick. They didn’t think they were infecting people. I highly doubt they had any intention of causing any harm.
Dr. Stack: (21:05)
They went to the church service before the first individual developed symptoms. Was at a Bible study gathering. They went home. He developed symptoms. They shut the church down shortly after this, as a result of those two individuals, it was a married couple I believe, 35 of the 92 attendees at church, at least 35 developed coronavirus infection. So that’s about a 38% positivity. That means over a few day period, before the first individual developed signs of infection, spread the infection to at least one third of the people they could identify. He had come in contact with. Of those third that got infected, three died. So three people died as a direct result, but here’s the thing. So we can talk about making choices that affect ourselves, or we can accept what risk we take for ourselves. But look what happened next because those individuals who subsequently got infected were out in the community, they spread the infection to at least 26 additional people and one of those people died.
Dr. Stack: (22:13)
So here’s the problem. Our actions, our individual actions, have direct implications and consequences for others. So when we talk about what kinds of acts of love and caring and kindness we can do, even though it’s inconvenient, I don’t like wearing a mask in public anymore than anyone else does. It is something we choose to do because it’s what we need to do to keep ourselves and to keep the people we love and to keep others around us safe. So I’m going to leave this up here for one more second while tell another thing because it’s not just about church services, it’s about any group gatherings. Just so happens these are the examples that have been published in the last two weeks.
Dr. Stack: (22:50)
So in Southern California, in Pasadena, about a week and a half ago, there was news coverage about a birthday party. And the birthday party was held in a private home and it happened indoors and outdoors. And one member of the birthday party came and was coughing and having signs of a respiratory infection. People were not wearing masks. They were not practicing social distancing. And as a result, five people tested positive related to that birthday party. And there were other people who had symptoms, but who did not get tested. Now, this was, as I understand it, earlier in April when testing was still harder to come by. So not everyone may have gotten a test. So our actions have direct implications on the health and safety of others. So James, if we could show the new slide on gatherings.
Dr. Stack: (23:37)
So this weekend is the first time we’re going to permit in Kentucky for the last two months or so, gatherings of up to 10 people. In order to do this safely, in order to minimize the risk of infection, being spread from people to people, and in order to keep people safe and not place people in risk of serious illness or even death, we have to do these things. And they’re the same things we’ve been telling you for quite a while. And we’re going to keep repeating them because they’re so important.
Dr. Stack: (24:06)
If at all possible, hold the gathering outside. There’s a lot more air circulation. It’s less likely that the virus will be floating in the air or concentrating. Continue to practice social distancing. Keep more than six feet between yourself and other people. So you can have a smaller gathering, just stay further away from each other. Do it outside on a deck, on a patio, in the backyard, if at all possible. Wear your cloth face covering. So whenever you are together, whenever you are likely to be anywhere near the six feet barrier, make sure you have a cloth base covering on. It keeps you from spraying secretions towards other people and spreading infection. And remember, people without symptoms can have infection and spread it. So you may not even know you’re spreading it.
Dr. Stack: (24:49)
Don’t share food and don’t share utensils and plates. And so just be careful. Take care of your own plates, wash them off, put them in the dishwasher. Wash your hands often and have hand sanitizer available for people so they can use that when they can’t go wash their hands. And avoid touching your face, your eyes, your nose, your mouth. All of those are portals where you can inject infection into yourself. So it’s Memorial Day weekend. I know many of us desperately crave the company of our family members and our friends. I hope you have a wonderful Memorial Day, but I urge, I urge and I ask that everybody, please follow these steps so that we can stay safe together and not have serious consequences none of us wants as a result. Thank you very much, Governor.
Andy Beshear: (25:41)
So our goal here isn’t to scare people though, I mean, it’s a scary time. It’s to make sure that we give the best guidance we can because none of you want the first time you’re able to get together to, to lead to health complications for anybody. So we’re going to continue to talk about this this week. There is a way that you can do this safer, hopefully safely. We just really need you to buy in, to follow these steps so we can make sure that folks can truly be healthy while doing it. And remember, there are just some of the things that we can’t be doing that are here. And the more that we can make this again, a part of our everyday routine, the more we’ll be able to do going forward.
Andy Beshear: (26:32)
Let’s turn from that to some, some additional positive news. Our next announcement on healthy at work is about June 8th as we look forward. On June 8th, here are some of the additional openings that we will be able to do. We’re going to have guidance up soon. Museums, outdoor attractions, aquariums libraries, distilleries. We’re going to try to have as much guidance that’s applicable to a lot of these because some of them are outdoors, but also have individual tours or groups that can go through. So we’re going to be working hard on this, but this gives these businesses some advanced notice. They’re still going to have to meet the top 10 rules. And then we’re going to try to have some specific guidance for them. So this can be done safely.
Andy Beshear: (27:26)
Can you go to the overall events, May and June. So this is a big week, right? This week we’ve seen government offices start to open back up. That doesn’t mean they’re all open to the public yet. Funerals are now able, we’re going to be able to do them starting tomorrow on a slightly bigger level, but we’ve got to do it safely. Retail opens tomorrow. That’s a really big day. On Friday restaurants and the ability to get together with 10 or less. And then look at Monday, I know people have really been looking forward to everything that’s there. This is going to be a lot of additional activity. And we just got to make sure that we do it safely. But I trust in you. We have been so good thus far, you have done so well thus far that I believe that we can do this safely but it’s got to be differently.
Andy Beshear: (28:17)
If we just go about it the way that we did before it won’t work, we’ll have to re-pause our economy and we know how detrimental that can be. So let’s get it right. And according to the advice that I’ve gotten at many times in my life, let’s not screw it up. Let’s make sure that we, again, prove that Kentucky can do these things better than just about anybody else. How about some more good news? Let’s talk about testing. So again, we’ve gone from there not being test for this virus to now look at that sites all over Kentucky, to there being no excuse for anybody not to get tested. And today we’re announcing that starting this Friday, our partnership with Walmart is going to expand. As some of you all know, we’ve been testing with our partner, with Walmart, in Louisville for several weeks, and that we just added the Bardstown location. Something that that city knew it needed. And we were able to step up and work with them. Today, we are announcing additional locations, permanent locations in Ashland, Bowling Green, Litchfield, London, Paducah, Pikeville, and Richmond.
Andy Beshear: (29:35)
Again, these are areas that we’ve had some service in, but we can use multiple locations. They’re areas where we needed additional testing. We really appreciate Walmart and their partnerships and these partnerships have been really helpful for us. So when we think about what we need to combat this virus, we need to continue our social distancing. We need the testing capacity, which we now have, and we need tracing, which we are putting together-
Andy Beshear: (30:03)
… that infrastructure, as we went over yesterday. So some tough news today. 20 deaths. That’s hard. Some normal news, our number of cases where it’s back down to. And some good news in new testing and what we think we’ll be able to do for Healthy at Work.
Andy Beshear: (30:26)
Now on the testing front again, before I leave it, our Kroger drive through sites, which are our highest volume testing, again, we have more spots available. First of all, Louisville Shawnee Park’s done a really good job. After last night, they filled up those testing sites. We just need people to show up. No more no shows. But otherwise, good job. Richmond, whole lot more after talking yesterday. It looks like we were really close, about 50 more spots on Thursday. Ohio and Grace County continue to have a lot more spots available, almost 400 spots in Ohio County tomorrow, Wednesday, and Thursday. Which means if you’re anywhere in the area and you go online tonight, you can get a test tomorrow or Thursday. We need you to do that. Grace County the same way. The way they’ve been hit, even if you think they’re in long term care facilities, there’s a way it got in there. And there’s a way it gets out of there. So we really need you to get tested. Grace County, 300 more tests available on Wednesday, 400 more tests available on Thursday.
Andy Beshear: (31:38)
Our ability to do the high volume sites in different areas around the state is dependent on people signing up for it. You want your area to be as safe as it can. I know we all have prides in being Kentuckians, but I know we also have prides in being Western Kentuckians or Eastern Kentuckians. And so let’s make sure that we do our civic duty, we get tested, to make sure that our area can be as safe as it can. And remember, as we step into contact tracing, and we’re going to be talking about it more, your duty as a Kentuckian, as a patriotic American, is to answer the call.
Andy Beshear: (32:14)
We’re going to live, we’re going to reopen in a time of contagion, which means that we all have to do our part if we’ve been contagious or if we’ve been exposed to someone with it. This is all of us working together to reopen our economy, and reopening it depends on all of us, all of us doing the right thing. If a small fraction of us don’t and spread the virus, guess what? The rest of us pay for it. But if we all do the right thing, we can do this really, really well. And I think we can move forward with a strength that we won’t see in many other areas of the state.
Andy Beshear: (32:47)
All right. So today, we have four journalists joining us. We have Tom Latek, we have Joe Ragusa, we have Lawrence Smith, we have Joe Sonka. And then I have a series of questions, like every day, that have been submitted. We’ll do 25 minutes or a little bit less. Why don’t we start with you, Lawrence?
Lawrence Smith: (33:13)
The new openings that you mentioned today starting June 8th, what are the guidance for those? Are there capacity limits, things like that?
Andy Beshear: (33:16)
So the June 8th openings, we are still working on the guidance, but we know with the top 10 rules that we need to give people a little bit of advanced notice to start meeting the basics. And then we work on the more specific guidance. There will be capacity limitations everywhere. And places like distilleries, there will also be sub-limitations just like there are in restaurants. So right now restaurants have an overall capacity and then how big your party can be, 10 and under. Same thing will be for a tour, for instance. And some of those lend themselves to being able to control that a little bit easier than others. But we’re trying to not wait until we have the specific guidance when we know that it does take work to get ready for this.
Andy Beshear: (34:06)
All right, Phil Pendleton, does the one person per household rule that’s been in effect for essential stores also apply to retail stores opening Wednesday?
Andy Beshear: (34:15)
So this is always a hard rule to enforce, but it’s one that we want to highly encourage everywhere. It’s both good for the stores, because if they have an overall capacity limit and you bring in your entire family, they get less shoppers. But it’s also really important because the more that we can cut down on the group or the social setting, the safer that it can be. Now, when we go into stores, shop, browse, but it can’t be social. These have to be experiences where we get in, we get what we need, and we get out. That’s how we open retail. That’s hopefully how in the future we expand capacity. But it needs to be what we call a transitory experience, in and out, and not one of long duration. Right now, the experts are saying that the risk, and everybody’s got to think about their risk when they do any of these things, are about the amount of time you’re at some place and the level of contacts that you’d have and how enclosed and dense that place is. So think about all of those. Joe.
As we’re getting ready to reopen retail and obviously other businesses later in the week and next month as well, we haven’t really seen the cases decline, we’ve kind of just been in a plateau. And I imagine you’re kind of expecting there might be a rise in cases, [inaudible 00:35:40]. But with that in mind, what are you expecting in terms of the number of cases as we gradually reopen? And what needs to happen in that regard for you to scale back these plans and maybe [inaudible 00:00:35:55]?
Andy Beshear: (35:55)
So the question’s about reopening and with our cases, our numbers, positive staying about the same. What am I looking at? What would cause me to pause? Let me say that while our number of cases has plateaued, our rate of infection has gone down according to just about everybody who tracks it. We have a smaller percentage of people that are testing positive. And part of that’s because originally we were only testing people who we thought would test positive. But it is giving us a better idea of the prevalence of this virus as it’s out there, both in symptomatic and in asymptomatic folks. Our hospitals continue to have sufficient room in beds, in ICUs, and in ventilators. That’s something that we are absolutely watching now. Remember one of the reasons we took the drastic steps that every state took was concern that it would overwhelm our healthcare capacity. And it would have if we didn’t take those steps.
Andy Beshear: (37:02)
And one of the reasons that we’re doing our reopening gradually is to make sure that we don’t hit a stage where we’re overwhelming any of that capacity. So we look at hospitalization, we look at ICUs, we look at numbers of people on those ventilators. We look not just at quantity, but a little bit of the other information and how serious are these cases that we’re seeing? But right now, we’re going to be watching, of course, what’s happened from this last week. Some of the national stories are, “Well, somebody reopened two weeks ago,” meaning the very first day that people were doing new things was two weeks ago. Well, people might’ve been on their best behavior on day one, but what about day five? So a lot of this we got to watch him in real time. But we’ll be watching all the indicators because our goal is to do the very best for our people.
Andy Beshear: (37:58)
Okay. Have I said, from Valerie and Daniel at the Herald Leader, when summer camps will open? So on June 15th, and we’re hoping the guidance is out by the end of this week, child care is going to reopen. And if camps can meet the requirements of child care, and they’re going to be some pretty significant requirements, but they’re going to be very similar to some other states, then they can also reopen. It’s going to be a challenge in some instances. Now, summer camps that involve sports will also have to meet the sports requirements because there’s different levels of contacts within sports. But basically, those summer camp, child care, we’re going to have the same types of regulations out there that need to be met.
Andy Beshear: (38:44)
Mainly, that’s going to be a capacity level of any individual class or group, how small it can be. And it can’t come into contact with other groups. Now that doesn’t mean you can’t run multiple groups if you can ensure that they don’t come into contact with each other. It’s trying to put a bubble around that number of kids and their contacts as they have with parents. And let me quickly … Live performances, bingo halls, no guidance out yet, no date out yet. Concerts, you can do the drive in and drive up like we have done in worship services before recent steps we’ve been able to take. Bingo halls, no date yet. There’s a lot of issues to work through there. Joe.
CMS put out new guidance for state and local governments yesterday on reopening nursing homes to visitors. Is there any timeline yet on when that might come in Kentucky?
Andy Beshear: (39:48)
The question’s on CMS putting out guidelines on allowing visitors back in. We need to see a stabilization, especially in our nursing homes. We need to get through the testing to make sure that we can know how much COVID is or is not in any given facility, because there’s both the risk of bringing it in and the risk of taking it out. So we’re going to have a lot more data over the next two to three weeks. We know how important visitation is, but we also know how deadly that this virus can be. So we want to continue to encourage virtual visitation, visitation through glass at the windows. We can loosen up some of that, but we need to be really careful. Because remember, one person infected going into a nursing home can cause some real significant devastation that you can’t undo. So we’ll be looking through that guidance. Eric Friedlander, I know, is leading our charge, along with Dr. Stack, on protecting our nursing homes and long term care facilities.
Andy Beshear: (40:56)
Can I give an update on the Team Kentucky Fund? 9,314 applications have been started, 1,251 are complete. That’d be slightly more than a million dollars requested in applications. We hope that we will get those dollars out soon so that we can use this money to help people. Remember, you can give tax free to the Team Kentucky Fund. It’s going to go to help people all across Kentucky, things like rent or other hardships that people have been suffering through this. We want to do everything we can to help everybody make it through. Remember, this is temporary. We don’t know exactly when the vaccine is coming, but we know it’s temporary. And our hardship is temporary too. We have plateaued a pandemic like no one ever has. We can and we will rebuild our economy. The unemployment, temporary. We will rebuild. We will reboot. I have confidence in you. And I know that we can do this. Tom, did you just ask the question? No.
Tom Latek: (42:01)
I’m ready to.
Andy Beshear: (42:02)
All right, go for it.
Tom Latek: (42:06)
I’ve had people ask me, when will the state police resume giving the driving tests?
Andy Beshear: (42:12)
We don’t have a set date for a resumption of driving tests. We are working through a number of different options about renewals of driver’s license. So this is one of the things where we had to get governments back in the office to start working through the processes of it being open to the public. But to all those 16-year-olds out there, I know you’re ready. We will work towards that. When I turned 16, there was a giant ice storm. It had frozen over just about everything. And I was yelling at my parents that they wouldn’t take me to get my driver’s test, even though the office was closed for a week. So I understand how badly you want to go and you want to get that test done and we’re going to work to make sure it’s safe. It’s got to be safe to the instructor. It’s got to be safe to you. It is an enclosed space. So we will get there as quickly as we can. Once you get your license, I don’t want you to get COVID.
Andy Beshear: (43:13)
About the Ohio County testing site, we talked a little bit about that. A question is if it remains low, will we try to open it up to no appointments? I’ll work with Kroger on that. But folks, this is an area that’s been hit pretty hard. We just need people to sign up. And so many Kentuckians live within 30, 45 minutes of this site. It’s how we protect one another in that area and across Kentucky. Lawrence?
Lawrence Smith: (43:40)
I want to go back to the day care issue. I think that this is the first time you’ve mentioned a date, I believe. But again, clarify the conditions under which these day care centers will be able to operate. And they’ll be more guidance, I assume, coming out at some point.
Andy Beshear: (43:52)
Right. So the question’s on day care. We hope to have guidance out by the end of the week. A lot of it is going to be about the 10 rules, but the other piece is, really, it’s going to come down to number of children in any one, you can call it class, you can call it group. So the challenge, do you still have the graphic when we showed day care? The challenge is that that day care, because kids cannot socially distance. If you have a smaller group, you can do better with it, but kids have a tough time of that. This is the choir practice. That’s okay. And so, the way that you prevent the almost exponential spread of contacts is to keep the group as small as we can.
Andy Beshear: (44:36)
Now we’re also going to encourage if specific businesses want to work with specific day cares, that does make their employees safer because the employees are already in contact with each other to where if their families are in contact with each other … If you’d run through that, right. This is what we want to avoid. Now, this is if I think a family of four, one individual goes back to work and is working with eight coworkers-
Andy Beshear: (45:03)
… and all their families look the same, which I know in reality, but it helps us with that. And then, any child goes to a childcare facility with 32 kids in contact, look at what you move from. You increase the exposure by an amount that we know would cause a spike.
Andy Beshear: (45:23)
So, what we’ve got to do, when you look at that children and 32 is to limit that number down. So, we reduce every number that grows from it. It’s the best way we can to try to make it less risky, and to ensure we can also monitor. Because if it’s spread, we don’t want to have to shut down all of these individuals with the self quarantine. We’d rather make sure that we can keep it small, and that it doesn’t ultimately wipe out a business or a group for short period of time, meaning not being able to go into the office.
Andy Beshear: (46:03)
Contact tracing. Folks want to apply. We like that. We planned out the information instructions on how to apply to work as a tracer, along with the list of vendors posted on our website very soon. And we actually think that we will have a couple of other announcements, whether through different things we’re having to do to address COVID-19 or other opportunities that are going to be out there, more dollars that we hope are coming to rural hospitals really soon, that we hope we’re going to see a significant increase in employment there. Joe.
In relation to the inflammatory syndrome that I know you saw popping up with infants and young kids, are there any updates on the four children that have it in Kentucky, were there anymore, and how does the growth of that syndrome [inaudible 00:46:51] the plans to start reopening childcare and daycare centers?
Andy Beshear: (46:55)
So the question is on this pediatric inflammatory syndrome, which I know is not the full name, COVID-related, that we are seeing across the United States. In Kentucky, to our knowledge, we’ve only had four cases thus far. It still appears to be rare, but because it trails the original COVID infection by so many weeks, we don’t know for sure. And so, we are watching this very carefully. And yes, it could very much impact childcare and youth sports, but I hope everyone would want that. If we figure out that it’s going to become more widespread than it is. Right now, again, appears to be rare. I don’t think it’s cause for alarm, but it is cause for knowing what to look for, which we’re going to continue to talk about, because we want any child that could be at risk for their parents or caregivers to know. And that’s why we’re calling through every minor that has had a positive test, and we are going to check on them.
Andy Beshear: (47:53)
The status, I believe, is generally unchanged. The original ten-year-old, that was intubated is no longer intubated, and is getting better, though it’s taking some time. The child is still not out of the woods and we need to still be concerned. The teenager is home, was only in the hospital for a little bit of time. I believe the five-year-old is also home. And so, then we have one more individual who is still in the hospital, who is 11. And I believe they’re still being monitored. I don’t think they’re in the ICU. They’re just in the hospital.
Andy Beshear: (48:36)
And so, all in all, that’s really good news, right? There’s two things we’ll want to know about this. We’ll want to know is it rare or is it not? And then we’ll want to know the severity of it as we go. We promise everybody out there, I’m watching this as closely as anybody can. As a dad of a 10 and a nine year old, I want to make sure you have all the information on this and that we are fully transparent about the risks. Joe?
On your list of June 8th reopening, you had outdoor attractions and you had aquariums. Does that include the Louisville Zoo?
Andy Beshear: (49:12)
So, we want to make sure. We haven’t specifically talked with the Louisville Zoo. We want to make sure that we talk directly with them and get feedback, and also, the community itself. That’s one where we believe, with the right practices in place, that there can be some pretty significant controls. But that’s one where we need to talk to them directly, given that they are the only state run zoo in the Commonwealth. But that’s something, especially in the summer months, that if we can do right, we’d like to get opened up.
Andy Beshear: (49:50)
Why do we think we’re seeing a spike in ICU cases and hospitalizations? Are we watching them? You know, it could be for a number of different reasons. We don’t have enough data to know exactly why we’re seeing that right now. We know we’ve seen clusters, and we also know that every time it gets in a longterm care facility, it’s more likely we have somebody on the ICU. So yes, we’re watching that data very, very closely.
Andy Beshear: (50:21)
And just to see how severe people’s reactions are. It’s not just the number of ventilators that we have because right now we look like we’re in really good shape with that. But it’s about making sure that we know the current status of the virus.
Andy Beshear: (50:37)
And let me mention, because we added ventilators, looking back and looking at what a number of other states did, I think we acted very responsibly in our purchases here in Kentucky. When you look at the amount we spent on PPE, the amount we spent on some ventilators, I believe every single dollar we spent, we actually got the goods that we paid for. We’ve seen some other states spend millions or more of dollars of putting that money out before the goods came in, and sometimes not getting them or not getting what they ordered.
Andy Beshear: (51:13)
I feel that when we look back on the way we went about this, people will be proud or they’ll see that we did this very responsibly. Now, there were times where it’s really tough to get PPE, but we would never allow us to simply send money out to a group without knowing that they actually had what they were saying that they had. So, I feel like we did that right, even in a very stressful time, where every time someone claimed they had a line on PPE, they would say everybody else is fronting money. Tom?
Warren County is the fifth most populous county, yet it has the second highest number of cases. Any reason that you were able track out for the disproportionate number of cases?
Andy Beshear: (52:06)
So, the question is about Warren County. And I think it’s a number of factors coming together. This is how clusters can work. And if we’re not following all the guidelines, if our businesses aren’t taking all the steps they need to, a county can have a lot of cases very quickly. And we’ve seen that in other counties before Warren County, which is just the latest one.
Andy Beshear: (52:29)
There is a connection to a meat packing and processing facility, which we’ve seen in a number of different places. That doesn’t explain all of it. But the challenge is, once you have a decent amount, it can spread that much faster. So, we’re going to have these until we have a vaccine, or until the virus changes. And what we’ve got to be able to do is react, get it right, and we’re going to have significant testing in Warren County as we continue, and tracing.
Andy Beshear: (53:04)
So, I know there are folks out there that don’t like wearing masks. Guess what? It’ll be a lot easier to contain an outbreak in Warren County and other places. Because if you look at the numbers in Warren County, it means there are a lot of people who are asymptomatic. So, if they are not wearing a mask, they’re spreading the virus.
Andy Beshear: (53:22)
I think Dr. Stacks said he thinks up to one and four people across Kentucky could have the virus at any given time and be asymptomatic. Think about that. You got a 25% chance, according to our health professional, of having this and spreading this, if you don’t wear this. Well, if I wear this 100% of the time when I’m in public, it certainly decreases my chance that I’m that one and four that could be spreading it.
Andy Beshear: (53:46)
And folks, every health professional now is saying to do this. And if you say, “Well, why weren’t we asked to do this two months ago?” That’s because we were healthy at home, and we’d shut things down. We want to go back to work. We all know that. So, this is part of the price that we need to pay to make sure we can do it safely. All right, let’s do one lightening round. Lawrence.
Retail opens tomorrow, restaurants Friday, 33% capacity for both of those. What will determine when they’ll be allowed to expand capacity?
Andy Beshear: (54:16)
The question is about when capacity could be expanded restaurants and retail. We want to just give enough time to make sure we’re doing it well, that the practices are in place, and that the virus is still under control. So, now we need to go two weeks plus because that would be the first day. But if folks prove that we can do this, do this well, it becomes part of our DNA, then we’ll absolutely increase capacity over time.
Andy Beshear: (54:43)
But remember, doing it gradually helps us with the contact tracing, with the testing and with our levels of hospital beds and the ICU. Gradual means safe in a reopening in a time of coronavirus. And if other people open a lot faster and they don’t see that spike, good for them. I don’t want their people harmed. But it’s the level of risk that we run for that. Because when you spike in a region, you run out of capacity, more people die than need to, or should. Joe.
Going back with the June 8th businesses, I know you said that the specific guidance for those businesses to reopen is still being developed, but do you anticipate there being similar capacity restrictions?
Andy Beshear: (55:28)
Andy Beshear: (55:31)
So most of the June 8th capacity openings will be 33%, similar, and then individual groups needing to be 10 and under, just like the guidance says. So, if you’re an outdoor attraction, you’ll have an overall capacity. And one group that may come through for a tour, you pick, it’s got to be 10 and under. Think about distillery tours. While there’ll be specific guidance and they submitted a lot of that, that’ll be a large part of it. Other Joe.
Can restaurants use reusable tablecloths and napkins if they are professionally cleaned, or is the guidance to not use the cloth?
Andy Beshear: (56:07)
I’m going to need to get you an answer on that. It’s about restaurants and professionally cleaned utensil and tablecloths. I know the guidance there is one that is incredibly important. If there is a way to safely do it a different way, we can look at that, but it’d have to be after every person, every individual.
Andy Beshear: (56:34)
Because if you think about people like, I guess, their tablecloths, they’re cloth or linen tablecloth. But one person sits down and they touch it, which you’ll always do at the table. You can’t sit down at a table without touching the table. It’s almost impossible. The next person who comes up can get the virus from that.
Andy Beshear: (56:52)
So, we’re just trying to make sure we think through, we do it right. But if there are methods out there, where people can do it safely, we want to hear about them. Tom.
Court system, we’ll be opening up shortly [inaudible 00:57:03] the Chief Justice said today. Will you be lifting your ban on evictions, or are you going to hold onto that until the economy recovers?
Andy Beshear: (57:12)
Well, we are not going to let up on our ban on evictions, certainly in the next couple of weeks. We’re going to watch as reopenings occur. The challenge is, you still need to be healthy at home. Even though you’re healthy at work, if you don’t have a home to come home to, it’s really hard to be safe, healthy, and not spread the virus. And we’re still in the middle of a pandemic, and it’s still very important.
Andy Beshear: (57:37)
All right. So, for the rest of the week, up through Friday, we’re going to be here. We have made a request and I think it’s granted. We’re going to start moving this around a little bit. I want to show you important buildings and rooms and facilities across Frankfort, and maybe we’ll even move a little bit as things open up across Kentucky.
Andy Beshear: (57:56)
Next week, it’s my hope that we’re going to be in the Supreme court chamber. It’s one of the most beautiful buildings here. It would allow us to have a little bit more press. It is a bigger room. And I want the people at home to see where the highest court serves and does their good work.
Andy Beshear: (58:12)
All right. So, a big week folks, and one that I know that we have all waited for, and you ought to be hopeful and optimistic going forward, but we also want to be careful. Now, we talk about being compassionate and kind. We also need to be careful. Let’s make sure that our excitement about Memorial Day, about retail, and about restaurants doesn’t transition into a spike. Let’s do it in moderation, and let’s do it right.
Andy Beshear: (58:41)
So, no video today. We’ll see everybody at five o’clock tomorrow. Be safe, be healthy, be healthy at home. Be healthy at work. God bless. Good night. And thank you, Virginia.