COVID-19 State News

COVID-19 State News

Kentucky Extends Mask Mandate Extended: Gov. Beshear extended the state’s mask mandate for another 30 days, citing its success and continued importance in flattening the curve of COVID-19 cases in the Commonwealth. Beshear has said he will have additional guidance for Kentucky’s bars and restaurants on Monday, August 10.

Kentucky Businesses Reopening Phases: 

State Guidelines for Reopening Businesses: Industry guidelines were released yesterday under the Healthy at Work plan outlined by Gov. Beshear. Specific businesses will be allowed to open May 11 with new minimum requirements, as well as industry specific requirements. Click below to find those requirements by industry:

June 1, 2020:
June 8, 2020:
June 11, 2020:

  

Masks Mandated: Gov. Beshear’s order states that Kentuckians must wear a mask inside most public places and outside if six feet social distancing is not possible. All customers must wear a mask in retail and most forward-facing businesses and any other indoor public space in which one cannot be six ft. away from another person. If six ft. social distancing cannot be maintained when outdoors, masks are also required. The order will run for 30 days and then be re-evaluated. There are several exemptions to the order, including children who are five or younger and any person with a disability, or a physical or mental impairment, that prevents them from safely wearing a face covering. Kentucky joins 22 other states with a mandate for wearing a mask. The Governor’s Executive Order can be read here and the accompanying emergency regulation here.

Driver’s License Renewals: Transportation Cabinet Secretary Jim Gray signed an executive order temporarily authorizing circuit court clerk offices to process expired driving credential renewals and replacement requests remotely. Cardholders whose operator’s license, permit or identification card was lost or expired between March 1 and June 30, 2020, may apply with their local circuit court clerk to receive a new card in the mail. For more information, click here. Applicants requesting a card renewal must not require any testing. The March emergency order is still in effect that extends the validity of cards by 90 days if the printed expiration date is March 18, 2020, or later.

Primary Election: June 15 was the last day to request an absentee ballot for the Kentucky’s Primary Election on June 23. Any registered voter can request an absentee ballot online at govoteky.com, by calling McCracken County Court Clerk Julie Griggs at 270-444-4702 or by emailing the office at julie.griggs@ky.gov.

If you cannot vote by mail or choose not to, you can vote in-person in the Clerk’s Office at the McCracken County Courthouse from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, until June 22,  and also on Saturday, June 20. On Election Day, June 23, there will be only one voting location at the courthouse. All in-person voting on Election Day will be in the County Clerk’s Office from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. To enter the courthouse, you must wear a mask. 

State Launching Online Tracking System for COVID-19 Contact Tracing: Kentucky’s state government will be hiring 700 individuals to do COVID-19 contact tracing. After someone tests positive, one of these contact tracers will talk with the individual to get basic information about them and get a list of people they have recently been in contact with. Following that, the people on the list will continue to be contacted over a 14-day period and may be asked to self-isolate in order to prevent the spread of the virus. Gov. Andy Beshear says the system will take privacy very seriously and will take steps to protect the personal information of all individuals. Beshear told Kentuckians they need to answer the call from these contact tracers because the system will not work if people do not participate. 

State Guidelines Released for Restaurants: The guidelines for restaurants opening were released this week. In addition to following the state’s Healthy at Work guidelines, the new Requirements for Restaurants include guidance on social distancing, cleaning and disinfecting, PPE, training and safety requirements.      

Reopening Tourism: As part of the Healthy at Work initiative, Gov. Andy Beshear announced tourism will reopen in an effort to generate revenue to boost the state’s economy and offer Kentuckians opportunities to explore the Commonwealth through in-state travel. Tourism is an $11 billion industry in Kentucky and provides employment to nearly 95,000 Kentuckians. The Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet will open Kentucky State resort parks, recreational parks, lodges and cabins to the public for normal business hours beginning June 1. Park guests will be required to follow social distancing and public health guidelines. Natural Bridge and Cumberland Falls State Resort Parks will also reopen on June 1. Reservations can be made online at parks.ky.gov. Lake Barkley State Resort Park will not reopen at this time.

State Guidance on Gatherings and Date Moved to Friday, May 22: Gov. Beshear issued a new executive order allowing groups of up to 10 people to gather beginning next Friday. If you host or attend a meeting/gathering of up to 10 people, the state has issued the following recommendations:

  • Hold the gathering outside whenever possible;
  • Remain at least 6 feet apart from people who are not a part of your household;
  • Do not share food, drink, containers, plates, napkins, or utensils;
  • Wash or sanitize your hands frequently before, during, and after the gathering;
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth, and;
  • If you will be closer than 6 feet to someone outside your household at any point, wear a cloth face covering or mask over your nose and mouth.

Revised Travel Ban Expires May 22: Last week, Gov. Beshear issued an executive order relating to travel. Yesterday he announced the travel ban will expire on May 22.

Healthy at Work Minimum Requirements Updated: The business community, led by the Kentucky Chamber, has worked closely with the administration on updating the minimum requirements for reopening. Changes were announced in the Executive Order released Sunday. Many of these requirements have changed since the initial announcement of business requirements for reopening. All information can be found at healthyatwork.ky.gov.
 
If your business is having any issues finding the supplies needed to be ready to open, please refer to our Suppliers list on our COVID-19 page at paducahchamber.org or give us a call. The Paducah Chamber’s goal is to help all businesses to be ready to open. 
 
All businesses should follow the 10 rules of staying healthy at work as well as industry-specific guidance, which will be issued as soon as possible. The state’s industry specific guidelines for these openings have not been released yet. We continue to update our website with this information. 
 
For restaurants to begin to prepare, here is a link to the guidance from the National Restaurants Association. The Paducah Chamber and Paducah Convention and Visitors Bureau will host a webinar for the restaurants as soon as more guidelines are released. We are working with the Kentucky Restaurant Association. Stay tuned! It’s in the works.

If you have questions please review the Frequently Asked Questions. If you have additional questions please email them to HealthyAtWork@ky.gov.

Masks Required by May 11: The Governor said that by May 11, everybody working for or visiting an essential business that is reopening should be wearing a mask. He said every Kentuckian should wear a mask when going to the grocery, into any place of business or any place where social distancing of keeping at least six-feet apart might be broken. Dr. Steven Stack, Commissioner for the Department for Public Health said the mask has “to cover your nose and go beneath your mouth. Ideally, it also should go below your chin.”

Travel: Click here to view the latest regulations on travel.

CARES Act Education Funding: The Kentucky Education and Workforce Development Cabinet (KEWDC) has been awarded more than $43.7 million under the CARES Act for education programs affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The federal funds include $30 million for K-12 technology assistance and food programs. The remaining funds will be administered by the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education (CPE) and used for relief in public and private higher education institutions. Click here to read more.

Kentucky’s Health Care Services Reopening: Some health care practitioners can resumed non-urgent/emergent health care services, diagnostic radiology and lab services on Monday, April 27. These areas include:

  • Hospital outpatient setting
  • Health care clinics and medical offices
  • Physical therapy settings, chiropractic offices and optometrists
  • Dental offices (but with enhanced aerosol protections)

Health care practitioners should still maximize telehealth; visitors not allowed except when necessary in end-of-life situations, or for vulnerable populations or minors, and even then, visitations should be kept to a minimum; eliminate traditional waiting room or common seating areas; social distancing should be maintained; all health care workers, patients and others should be screened for temperature and COVID-19 symptoms upon arrival for shift or visit; masks and appropriate PPE should be worn by health care providers and staff and patients.

Health Care Phase 3 Opening: Scheduled to start Wed., May 13, hospitals and care facilities can begin doing non-emergency surgeries and procedures at 50% of their pre-COVID-19-era patient volume.

Changes to Primary Election Procedures: This morning Gov. Andy Beshear issued an Executive Order, following a recommendation from Secretary of State Michael Adams, which outlines procedures for Kentucky’s Primary Election on June 23. All Kentuckians who are registered to vote in the upcoming primary will be able to vote by mail through an absentee ballot. The State Board of Elections will also be working on a plan to safely conduct limited in-person voting and a possible drive-through voting option, so that voters who cannot vote by mail can also exercise their right to vote.

KY Department of Worker’s Comp Claims: Guidance has been issued on the Governor’s Executive Order about paying temporary total disability benefits to employees who have been taken off work by a healthcare provider due to occupational exposure to COVID-19. Click here for the Governor’s Executive Order. 
 
New KY Recommendations: 
Schools will not resume in person instruction this school year.  Paducah Independent Schools announced the last day of school for Paducah Tilghman High School and Paducah Middle School will be May 8. The last day for the three elementary schools will be May 11. McCracken County Schools will announce their plans for their last day later this week.  

Benchmarks for Reopening Economy (4-20-20): Governor Beshear announced Friday seven benchmarks that the commonwealth must meet in order to start reopening the state’s economy while keeping Kentuckians safe from the novel coronavirus. The benchmarks reflect guidance from the White House for a three phase approach.  Governor Beshear said Kentucky will be looking to meet the following benchmarks in the coming weeks:

  • 14 days where cases are decreasing
  • Increased testing capacity and contact tracing
  • Personal protective equipment (PPE) availability
  • Ability to protect at-risk populations
  • Ability to social distance and follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines on large gatherings
  • Preparedness for possible future spike
  • Status of vaccine and treatment

To read more about what Governor Beshear said and the White House provided for guidance on the first stage of reopening could look like, click here.

Kentucky General Assembly (4-17-20): State legislators returned to the Capitol this week for the last two days of the Kentucky General Assembly's 2020 session, shortened by seven legislative days because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Legislators were allowed to cast votes while not in the chamber.
 
An enacted COVID-19 relief measure will loosen requirements for unemployment benefits and extend help to self-employed workers and others who would otherwise not be eligible. Earlier this month, the Kentucky General Assembly had approved an austere $11.4 billion one-year budget, departing historically from the traditional two-year budget cycle under caution of diminishing revenue estimates caused by the coronavirus pandemic. The legislature also voted to override all of Governor Andy Beshear’s earlier issued vetoes.
 
In the weeks ahead, the Kentucky General Assembly’s interim committee process will begin to consider legislative proposals to address the challenges that lie ahead. Additionally, a special-called legislative session in the fall is a possibility.

New State Testing Sites: Governor Beshear announced on Thursday that Paducah is one of four new drive-thru testing sites expected to open next week. Those eligible for the tests include people exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19, including fever, shortness of breath and cough; health care workers and first responders who may have been exposed to coronavirus; and anyone with mild symptoms who also may have been exposed coronavirus.
 
The new site will be located on the campus of West Kentucky Community & Technical College in the Carson Hall lower parking lot. To read the full news release, click here. For an appointment click here or call 1-888-852-2567, option 3.

General Assembly Update: Wednesday, April 15 was the final day for the 2020 General Assembly regular session. The legislature reconvened yesterday for veto overrides and remaining legislation. Kentucky’s constitution mandates that the session must not be longer than 60 working days and cannot extend beyond April 15.

Kentucky College Students Receive $156 million from CARES Act: U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced today Kentucky colleges and universities will receive more than $156 million in emergency cash relief from the U.S. Department of Education to support students and institutions during the coronavirus outbreak. According to the Department of Education, this emergency financial aid can be used by students for course materials, technology, housing, food, healthcare and childcare costs. Murray State University will receive $6,270,769 and West Kentucky Community and Technical College will receive $2,444,515 for financial aid and support to students. Click here to read the press release from Leader McConnell.

(4-10-20) Workers’ Compensation Access Expanded in Kentucky Under Governor’s New Executive Order:  Kentucky is broadening workers’ compensation payments to Kentuckians who, because of the nature of their employment, are at higher risk of exposure to the coronavirus. Gov. Beshear signed an Executive Order Thursday to expand this access to those working on the front lines against COVID-19. The Executive Order allows for temporary total disability payments for grocery store workers, employees of a healthcare entity, first responders (law enforcement, emergency medical services, fire department), corrections officers, military, activated National Guard, domestic violence shelter workers, child advocacy workers, rape crisis center staff, Department for Community Based Services workers, postal service workers, and child care workers that are still providing care for certain groups allowed by the Cabinet for Health and Family Services. The benefits would be available to an individual working in one of these positions that has been removed from work by a physician due to occupational exposure to COVD-19. Click here to read the Executive Order.

(4-9-20)  Governor Beshear announced on Wednesday (4-8-20) an Executive Order that limits the number of people in “essential” stores (this includes grocery stores and pharmacies) to one-per-household. This order applies to all stores considered as life-sustaining that are still open. One adult per household should go in to get what is needed and others stay Healthy at Home. Exceptions are if there is only one adult in the household to care for minor children or adults with physical or mental impairments. The order also forbids door-to-door solicitation.

(4-3-20) Governor Beshear issued an Executive Order Thursday expanding travel restrictions into Kentucky. If someone travels into Kentucky from any other state, that person is required to quarantine for 14 days. This is in addition to the previous order that Kentucky citizens who travel out-of-state for anything other than work, groceries, to care for loved ones, to obtain health care or when required by a court order, are also required to quarantine for 14 days. State parks are closed to overnight stays in campground areas and at lodges. ​The Governor issued an Executive Order to allow the state, counties and cities to rehire previously retired workers to fill key roles. An earlier order allowed for retirees to return to frontline, first responder positions without harming their retirement or pension. The Governor has asked schools to extend Non-Traditional Instruction (NTI), holding no in-person classes, through May 1.

(4-2-20) Knowing the current pandemic will impact future tax revenue, the Kentucky General Assembly passed a lean, one-year state budget Wednesday, instead of the usual two-year budget. The Senate passed the measure unanimously Wednesday afternoon, followed by a vote of 80-10 in the House.

The budget proposal, applying only to the FY 2021, includes no raises for teachers and other public employees. Pension systems are fully funded for a year, and the plan sets aside funds to help deal with COVID-19 crisis.

The General Assembly also passed the two-year road plan and transportation budget. All now go to the Governor, who has the power to veto all or part of the budget. The General Assembly adjourned on Wednesday and now the veto period is in place until they reconvene on April 14. The final legislative day is April 15.

(3-30-20) Gov. Andy Beshear announced on Monday a new executive order telling Kentuckians to not leave the state unless absolutely necessary. The only reasons an individual should leave the state, the Beshear administration said are a requirement for health care, a work order, taking care of a loved one, and absolute necessities. They added when someone does leave the state, they need to self-quarantine for 14 days upon return. As for how the executive order will be enforced, local law enforcement can be involved if necessary but Beshear noted people have to take the responsible steps on their own. Beshear said Kentucky now has 42 new cases Monday, bringing the total to 480 positive coronavirus cases.

The Kentucky General Assembly is continuing with their legislative work. Currently there are two legislative days scheduled, April 1st and April 15th. Legislative leaders are working on crafting a state budget and road plan and are expected to vote on these bills April 1st. It is possible that a special legislative session will be called sometime in the future to adjust our state budget to meet the new budgetary realities that result from COVID-19. After meeting on April 1st, the legislature will then adjourn until April 15th and, upon their return, will consider overriding any vetoes that the governor may have issued. Gov. Beshear signed into law this past week more than 35 bills, including SB 56 which prohibits the sale of tobacco, alternative nicotine, or vapor products to persons under the age of 21. To review the list, click here

The General Assembly passed SB 150 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The bill adds temporary changes in statutes in response to the disease and its impact on billing for health care services.  It also codifies many of the actions taken by the Governor through executive orders, including waiving the 7-day waiting period for unemployment insurance eligibility, extending unemployment to the self-employed, and requires the state to adhere to the same tax filing extensions set by Internal Revenue Service and U.S. Treasury. The legislation also expands telehealth, allows government entities to utilize online meetings without violating open meeting requirements, and protects small business owners forced to lay off workers by preventing an increase in the calculated unemployment rate.

An Executive Order signed by Governor Beshear closing more businesses is available to read by clicking here. Essential businesses allowed to be open include grocery stores, drug stores and pharmacies, banks, hardware stores, agricultural operations, gas stations, media, businesses needed for transportation, logistics, shipping, delivery and pick-up, housing, building and construction, laundry, financial services, home-based care and services, professional services, manufacturing and other businesses key to national interests or life-sustaining goods or services, and those covered under the federal critical infrastructure sector. Here’s the summary.

U.S. Extends Tax Filing Deadline to July 15: The national income tax filing day has been extended to July 15, 2020. The Kentucky General Assembly passed SB 150 this week that requires the state to adhere to the same tax filing extensions set by Internal Revenue Service and U.S. Treasury.

Click HERE for the latest legislative information from the Kentucky Chamber Bottom Line

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