Beshear Responds To Capitol Protests

May 4, 2020
Originally published on May 3, 2020 7:53 pm


Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear responded Sunday to weekend protests at the state capitol against social distancing policies.

The weekend protests featured members of the state General Assembly and armed demonstrators. Beshear said in-person protests jeopardize the health of Kentuckians.

“That’s just reckless,” Beshear said. “We’re living in a worldwide health pandemic that can kill so many.”

Beshear also said legislators should set a positive example by expressing their disagreements with the governor in responsible ways.

“It’s okay to disagree, but if you are a leader people listen to, be responsible in how you do it,” he said.

Beshear also responded to a federal court decision allowing drive-in church services to continue, in line with current guidance from the state government regarding worship services in the commonwealth. 

“I’m fine with the decision. It’s the exact policy we’ve had in place,” Beshear said.

Attorney General Daniel Cameron said Beshear’s order raises concerns regarding targeting religious individuals in Kentucky. He said houses of worship should not be restricted while other areas of the economy are open.

“Churches should have the same flexibility as secular groups to resume operations, in accordance with social distancing guidelines,” Cameron said in a statement.

Beshear announced a total of 253 coronavirus cases for Saturday and Sunday. The total number of cases in the commonwealth now sits at 5,130. 

The new cases reported Saturday come from Jefferson, Boone, Warren, Fayette, Daviess, Kenton, Muhlenberg, Grayson, Hopkins, Grant, Campbell, Butler, Henry, Logan, Meade, Ohio, Shelby, Anderson, Bullitt, Calloway, Christian, Franklin, Henderson, Letcher, Livingston, McCracken, McLean, Monroe, Nelson, Oldham, Perry, Simpson and Webster counties. 

Five deaths were confirmed Saturday with zero reported as of the beginning of Beshear’s press conference Sunday. A total of 253 Kentuckians are dead as a result of the coronavirus.

A total of at least 58,408 COVID-19 tests have been administered in the commonwealth. Beshear said an average of 50 testees per drive-thru site are not showing up at their predetermined test time.

“You can’t be doing that, we need you to keep the appointments that you sign up.”

The latest information on the coronavirus pandemic in Kentucky can be found here.

Steps The State Has Taken To Address COVID-19

  • Beshear took a break from his daily COVID-19 press conference Saturday, May 2, providing updated virus data for both days on Sunday, May 3.

  • Additional guidelines for phase two of healthcare reopenings are expected to be outlined May 4 by state Public Health Commissioner Steven Stack.

  • Restrictions on Kentucky’s houses of worship and a number of businesses that have been closed for weeks will be lifted May 20.

  • Kentucky's "Healthy at Work" initiative will feature a phased reopening of the state's economy beginning May 11. 

  • Kentuckians will be required to wear masks in public beginning May 11.

  • ​Announced that Monday, April 27, the state will begin the gradual restart and reopening of our Phase 1 health care services and facilities, although they will operate vastly different than they did before the outbreak of the novel coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19). Click here for detailed guidance.

  • Announced the launch of "Healthy at Work," a new initiative to help Kentucky businesses reopen safely as we fight the novel coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19).

  • The state will work to expand testing in predominantly African-American communities. 

  • The Murray Calloway-County Hospital is providing drive-thru COVID-19 testing to residents of the region. 

  • In-class educational instruction will cease for the remainder of the Spring 2020 Semster.

  • Kroger will be setting up drive-up testing sites in Madisonville and Paducah beginning April 21.

  • ​Beshear announced benchmarks Kentucky must meet in order to start reopening the state's economy while keeping Kentuckians safe from the novel coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19). The steps reflect federal guidance announced Thursday by the White House.

  • ​ Kentucky is joining with Governors, Eric Holcomb of Indiana, Mike DeWine of Ohio, Tony Evers of Wisconsin, J.B. Pritzker of Illinois, Tim Walz of Minnesota and Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan to closely coordinate plans to reopen the regional economies when the time is right.

  • License plate numbers of any individual attending in-person gatherings will be recorded by state and local officials. The residents will then receive quarantine notices in person from their local health departments.

  • Beshear issued an executive order limiting the number of people in stores that remain open. Only one adult per household should shop at one time.

  • The state is increasing unemployment hotline operators from 12 to more than 1,000.

  • The Department of Public Health is introducing a tiered system to streamline COVID-19 testing. Public Health Commissioner Steven Stack announced a partnership with 32 Kentucky hospitals to expand access to testing, especially in the rural parts of the commonwealth. 

  • Beshear issued an executive order commuting the sentences for 186 C and D felons. 

  • Beshear has issued a 14-day quarantine for returning Kentucky residents who have left the state for reasons other than: caring for a loved one, going to the closest grocery store for supplies, parental visitation, going to work

  • State officials are moving ahead with plans to convert the Louisville Fairgrounds into a field hospital with at least 2,000 beds. Beshear said the state is working in conjunction with the National Guard and Army Corps of Engineers.

  • State officials banned overnight stays in state parks. Beshear said this includes campgrounds and lodges.

  • Beshear extended the policy of no in-person instruction in schools through at least Friday, May 1.

  • Beshear announced an executive order expanding travel restrictions to where out-of-state people travelling into Kentucky need to quarantine for fourteen days “wherever they’re coming.” People who are just stopping for gas in the state are not included in the order.

  • Beshear issued an executive order allowing critical workforce sectors to rehire previously retired workers to fill key roles.

  • Beshear issued an executive order easing restrictions on nurses who live out of state and making it quicker to obtain a license.

  • Beshear announced a new website portal to connect businesses interested in donating services or supplies with Kentuckians and Kentucky medical facilities in need.

  • Beshear asked mayors and county judge-executives to monitor people gathering in public places such as parks and stop them if people are not practicing social distancing and risking the spread of COVID-19.

  • Unemployment eligibility has been expanded to include individuals typically not covered by unemployment insurance. This includes self-employed, independent contractors, freelance workers, substitute teachers and childcare workers employed by religious affiliated organizations and nonprofits.

  • ​State officials have suspended evictions for the duration of the COVID-19 Emergency.

  • Beshear established a Team Kentucky fund to help provide financial assistance to Kentuckians whose employment has been affected by this virus. People can donate to the fund that will be overseen by the Kentucky Public Protection Cabinet. Beshear said the fund will work like most popular fundraising platforms where people can “click a couple buttons and give instantly.” He said donations are tax-deductible. 

  • State officials created a COVID-19 reporting hotline for people to report situations and groups or organizations they believe are dangerous. Beshear said this could be groups not engaging in social distancing or businesses not abiding by CDC guidelines. The hotline is 1-833-KYSAFER or 1-833-597-2337. The hotline will be staffed from 7:30 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. by labor cabinet employees. People can also leave messages after hours. He said the hotline received roughly 2,000 last night.

  • Beshear said the state is taking “security measures” around hospitals to ensure safety. He said people will see additional law enforcement and National Guard around hospitals.

  • Beshear encouraged all radio and TV stations to do public service announcements. He said Kentucky needs more encouragement about social distancing and recommended stations pull information from the kycovid19.ky.gov website.

  • The state is going to be conducting a survey of outpatient surgical centers for their supplies and staff. Beshear said it's something the state is doing so it can “marshal every single resource at a time of need.”

  • The state is closing non-essential retail businesses to in-person traffic. These include entertainment, sporting goods, clothing, shoes, jewelry, bookstores, florists, furniture and auto dealers. Beshear said these retail businesses can still do curbside and pickup and urged them to be “innovative.” He said stores unaffected by this order are grocery stores, pharmacies, gas stations, drug stores, liquor stores, hardware stores, agriculture supply and equipment stores and auto repairs and parts stores. Beshear said these stores still need to follow CDC guidelines and “spread people out.” He said auto dealers will still be able to provide repairs and parts and can only do sales if the interaction is complete online or over the phone. 

  • The state is mandating medical facilities cease elective procedures. He said the vast majority of providers have responded to the state’s recommendation voluntarily. 

  • Kentucky has issued a state of emergency that Beshear said will last until COVID-19 is “taken care of.”  He said the state’s emergency management operations center is up, as well as the state health operations center. 

  • The state established the COVID-19 hotline and a website providing updates on the virus for Kentuckians. People who are sick but would have not sought care should  contact their healthcare provider to prevent flooding of health care facilities. People who have questions about the virus call the COVID-19 Hotline at (800) 722-5725.

  • A price gouging order is in effect. Kentuckians who have any information regarding possible price gouging should dial (888) 432-9257 for the Office of the Attorney General Consumer Protection hotline.

  • Officials adjusted state government sick leave policy to ensure sick employees stay at home. Beshear said businesses should do the same. He encouraged all businesses to allow employees to work from home if at all possible. 

  • The state published CDC guidelines with warnings for sick individuals. Beshear said people over the age of 60 or people with heart, lung or kidney disease; compromised immune systems; or diabetes should be extremely careful and avoid places with crowds. He said Kentuckians should not fly if they don’t have to and that no one should get on a cruise ship. CDC guidelines say everyone should be engaged in social distancing. 

  • Beshear issued an executive order to waive copays, deductibles, cost-sharing and diagnostic testing fees for private insurance and state employees. He said the state has issued executive orders and worked in Medicaid to make sure COVID-19 testing and treatment is free.

  • Beshear signed an executive order to allow pharmacists to refill prescriptions for up to 30 days.

  • The state closed all state prisons to visitors.

  • Beshear said the state closed restaurants and bars to all in-person traffic, except for drive-thru, delivery and, in some instances, take-out.

  • Beshear said the state has limited visitation in “just about every type of facility that works with or for our seniors.” 

  • The state has recommended schools cease in-class activities, including in-person classes. Beshear said this has been extended to April 21 and, as of now, all school districts have complied.

  • Beshear said the state is making sure first responders and health care workers are covered through Kentucky Employers Mutual Insurance. The insurance provides wage replacement benefits for first responders and medical personnel who have been quarantined for COVID-19.

  • Child care centers are closed with the exception of those helping healthcare workers and first responders. 

  • The state postponed primary elections, moving voting to June 23.

  • The state issued an executive order to close all public-facing businesses that encourage public congregation.

  • Beshear said the state has waived the waiting period for unemployment insurance and continues to work to reduce the barriers to unemployment. Beshear said they are working on unemployment for independent contractors and small business owners.

  • The federal government’s Small Business Administration has granted Kentucky application to allow small businesses to get disaster loans. Beshear said SBA’s website is fixed and small businesses can now apply online for the disaster loans they need. SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loans applications can be completed and filed online at www.sba.gov/disaster.

  • All Kentuckians on the Grand Princess cruise ship were brought back home.

  • The state provided a three-month extension on driver’s licenses.

  • Beshear said the state is extending Medicaid, SNAP and other benefits: “If it’s running out and you would have to reapply in the next couple of months, you don’t have to.” He said the state is re-upping people on those benefits for a three-month period.

  • The state has suspended all charitable gaming licenses. 

  • The state has issued a formal letter banning all mass gatherings.

  • The state is delaying the tax filing deadline by three months from April 15 to July 15.

Copyright 2020 WKMS. To see more, visit WKMS.