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As a new strain of coronavirus (COVID-19) swept through the world in 2020, preparedness plans, masking policies and more public policy changed just as quickly. WVXU has covered the pandemic's impact on the Tri-State from the very beginning, when on March 3, 2020, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine barred spectators from attending the Arnold Sports Festival in Columbus over concerns about the virus, even though Ohio had yet to confirm a single case of COVID-19.

Beshear Expands Disability Benefits To Essential Workers During Pandemic

Ryan Van Velzer

Gov. Andy Beshear has issued an executive order expanding disability benefits for essential workers like grocery store employees, postal workers and child care providers who are still working during the coronavirus pandemic.

The benefits would apply if an employee is infected with coronavirus or takes time off because a health care provider recommends quarantining due to possible exposure.

La Tasha Buckner, Beshear's chief of staff, said that coverage already applies to first responders and health care workers, but it needed to be expanded.

"Now we have a larger category of people who are required, because of their jobs, to have a lot of interaction with other people, and because of that they're at a higher risk for COVID exposure," Buckner said.

The executive order also applies to military personnel and workers at prisons, rape crisis centers and domestic violence shelters.

Beshear announced 134 new cases of coronavirus Thursday, bringing the state's total to 1,452. Seventy-nine Kentuckians have died from the illness.

Beshear also said that 18 people were evacuated from the Treyton Oaks nursing home in Louisville following a coronavirus outbreak. First responders, including the National Guard, helped move the patients to Norton Hospital, where an entire floor is being used to treat them.

So far, the 12-story nursing home has had 29 cases and four deaths, Beshear said.

He said the state is trying to create more plans where patients can be treated on isolated floors or buildings.

"We spent a large part of today on trying to have other opportunities like this, pre-planned, to where we can have a facility or a wing of an existing hospital or facility open and ready," Beshear said.

The governor again urged churches to not hold services on Easter Sunday, pointing to a religious revival in Hopkins County last month that has been connected to six deaths and 54 cases.

During his update Thursday evening, Beshear also said he talked to Vice President Mike Pence about trying to get more personal protective equipment and supplies for Kentucky first responders. According to Beshear, Pence said he would "start working on it."

"Other states have done the millions, we're just trying to request what we think we could use right now," Beshear said. "We don't have nearly enough in our [Department for Public Health] warehouse and our providers don’t have nearly enough."

This story first appeared on member station WFPL. For more stories like this, visit wfpl.org now.

Ryland Barton is WFPL's Managing Editor for Collaboratives.