Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear announced 202 new cases of coronavirus and three new deaths in his daily update on Sunday. A total of 4,074 cases and 208 deaths have been confirmed in Kentucky.
Beshear also announced the first phase in relaxing restrictions on businesses, primarily healthcare services such as dental offices, hospital outpatient settings, and physical therapy offices.
Beshear was joined by Steven J. Stack, commissioner of the Kentucky Department for Public Health, who went over the upcoming plan to reopen healthcare services around Kentucky and the criteria that must be met in order to do so.
“This is the first time of any significance that we are removing restrictions,” Stack said. “As hard as it was to say ‘no’ to [businesses remaining open], it’ll be challenging to say ‘yes, but’ to a lot more things as we try to relax restrictions.”
Stack said that from a purely public health standpoint, it would likely be more beneficial to continue tight restrictions on business operations. However, for the sake of economic growth and sending people back to work, a gradual reopening must begin.
Stack specified that businesses that are not properly equipped with personal protective gear such as latex gloves and proper masks will not be allowed to reopen until they’ve acquired an adequate stockpile. More information about restrictions can be found on Ky.gov.
Beshear echoed Stack’s sentiments, saying that businesses will be under strict scrutiny during this period and those who do not follow safety guidelines will be penalized.
“If you cannot meet those requirements, you can’t open,” Beshear said. “We will enforce this. It might not seem fair, but it would be unfair to reopen recklessly. If there is a second spike, it will cause more long term damage.”
Beshear also answered questions regarding why the first phase of reopening is occurring before the often mentioned “14-day decline” in infection rates by saying that the process to reopen is not a quick one.
“We aren’t moving into the full phase one, as per the White House guidelines, but we feel we need our healthcare system to be active and up and running,” Beshear said. “All of these facilities that are reopening can increase capacity for testing. Also, they are trained on how to do this safely, have access to PPE, training, and provide a model for how to do this.”
Beshear finished by emphasizing the dangers and risks many face during the pandemic and said that quarantine will become more and more important as the economy begins to rebuild.
“If a person tests positive, they will need to quarantine,” Beshear said. “You might receive a call that you have come in contact with someone who was positive, you can’t show up for work the next day, and will need to quarantine, not 14 days, since guidance is changing. Enforcement is going to pick up in different ways.”
News reporter Michael J. Collins can be reached at [email protected] Follow Michael on Twitter at @NotMichaelJColl.