Governor highlights variety of issues in Monday’s COVID-19 update

FRANKFORT, Ky. – Gov. Beshear on Monday highlighted a variety of issues of importance to Kentuckians and the commonwealth.

CARES Act Funding for Northern Kentucky
Earlier today and in collaboration with the Department for Local Government (DLG), Gov. Beshear announced 12 Northern Kentucky governments have been approved for $3,864,114 in reimbursements from the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act for local governments with expenses related to COVID-19.

Also earlier Monday, Gov. Beshear welcomed the latest large corporate donation of personal protective equipment (PPE), which will bolster the commonwealth’s response to COVID-19.

“Today, we’re happy to announce that the Ford Motor Co. has generously donated 2 million masks to the commonwealth, which is among the largest gifts we have received”, the Governor said. “This donation undoubtedly will help save Kentuckians’ lives.”

Ford’s donation is just the latest large gift from responsible corporations. Dozens of individuals and smaller businesses have added to the commonwealth’s reserves by bringing donations to their local Kentucky State Police posts. For more information and to view the full news release, click here.

Gov. Beshear again encouraged all Kentuckians to make a plan to vote, either by mail, in person during early voting or in person on Election Day.

Mask Up Kentucky
Gov. Beshear also stressed the continued importance of everyone wearing face coverings, calling it the single most important thing all of us can do to fight COVID-19.

Case Information – Monday, Sept. 14
As of 4 p.m. Sept. 14, Gov. Beshear said there were at least 57,282 coronavirus cases in Kentucky, 342 of which were newly reported Monday. Fifty-three of the newly reported cases were from children ages 18 and younger, of which 12 were children ages 5 and under. The youngest was a 1-month-old from Russell County.

Five new deaths were reported Monday, raising the total to 1,065 Kentuckians lost to the virus.

The deaths reported Monday include a 71-year-old woman from Christian County; two men, ages 77 and 80, from Fayette County; an 82-year-old woman from Pulaski County; and a 49-year-old man from Shelby County.

As of Monday, there have been at least 1,020,070 coronavirus tests performed in Kentucky. The positivity rate was 4.17%, and at least 10,918 Kentuckians have recovered from the virus.

For additional information, including up-to-date lists of positive cases and deaths, as well as breakdowns of coronavirus infections by county, race and ethnicity, click here. To see all recent daily reports, click here.

Information about COVID-19 and schools is also being made available. To view the reports, click here for K-12 and here for colleges and universities.

New Information on Opening Schools

Dr. Stack, Lt. Gov. Jacqueline Coleman and several education officials on Monday offered a number of updates on the state of education in the commonwealth amid the global pandemic.

“This afternoon, we filed an emergency regulation addressing K-12 COVID-19 reporting requirements pursuant to existing statutes,” Dr. Stack said.

Under the new regulation, no later than Monday, Sept. 28, all parents and guardians are required to report to the child’s school within 24 hours if their child tests positive for COVID-19, and all schools must report via a secure website, Monday through Friday, every day school is in session, data related to the coronavirus.

He said the Kentucky Department of Education is sending instructions to schools on how to register with the online portal and report this data.

“Using this data, KDPH will publish an online dashboard,” Dr. Stack said. “The dashboard link will be posted on or before Monday, Sept. 28, on the website.

“Publicly reporting this data is a necessary tool to enable students, parents and communities to make informed decisions COVID-19 risk in collaboration with the education and public health communities,” Dr. Stack said.

Dr. Stack said KDPH still will publish its K-12 public health reports, also available on the website.

In addition to reporting protocols, Dr. Stack provided updated guidance for schools on a variety of instructional modes.

“Superintendents have requested local control. They have asked us to give them a metric to decide,” Dr. Stack said. “This tool provides the metric and public health guidance attached to it.”

He said the guidance is in effect as long as the state’s positivity rate is less than 6% and the health care system has enough resources. A color-coded map showing incidence rates will provide districts with corresponding guidance. It will be updated every Thursday evening to guide schools for the following week.

Schools in green and yellow areas essentially follow KDE Healthy at Schools guidance. Schools in an orange zone should take enhanced measures, including more aggressive crowd limits, and should consider a variety of factors to determine what mode of instruction they should use.

If a county reaches red, then both in person instruction should be suspended the following week and only remote learning should occur; schools may still use small groups per KDE guidance for special circumstances.

“Let me be clear, that there is not going to be an overall recommendation coming from me or my office post Sept. 28,” Gov. Beshear said. “What’s going to be provided is the information to make a week-by-week decision in our various school districts and counties based on prevalence and what public health experts believe is the right course based on that prevalence.”

Dr. Stack added: “Once a county reaches red, it should return to yellow before resuming in person instruction to allow for disease activity to return to a safer level and to increase the probability of successfully staying open for in person instruction upon reopening.”

In addition, Dr. Stack said the Kentucky High School Athletic Association has published and continues to update its guidance on COVID-19. He said the KDPH is collaborating with officials.

Dr. Lu Young, chair of the Kentucky Board of Education, was on hand Monday to support the new reporting process.

“This data about cases in schools is crucial to support families and to support our reopening efforts across the commonwealth. We all need to have a better understanding of the impact of this virus on our kids and school personnel as it plays out in real time,” Dr. Young said. “Equally importantly, we need to use this information to track what is actually happening in our schools and districts on a daily basis as this information may very well help us prevent dangerous outbreaks in our neighborhoods before they ever happen.”

Lt. Gov. Coleman, who also serves as secretary of the Kentucky Education and Workforce Development Cabinet, said: “This week, I will be working with the Department of Public Health and KDE to hold town halls with superintendents to teachers and everyone in between. Our goals are to be transparent and communicative, ensure accountability and inclusion and allow every voice to be heard.”

Dr. Houston Barber, superintendent of the Frankfort Independent Schools District, praised the new information.

“As a father of four, I empathize with all Kentuckians about what school looks like today and how you’re navigating that course,” Dr. Barber said. “This tool that has been developed for K-12 is incredible. It allows for districts all across the state to work together with their local health officials and board teams and come up with a strategy that makes sense for their students, their families and their communities.”

Dr. M. Christopher Brown II, president of Kentucky State University, also spoke Monday in favor of the collaboration.

“Every call and request for information we’ve had to the Department of Public Health has been answered. The spirit of cooperation has been seamless and constant as we try to maneuver and respond to the changing dynamics of this pandemic,” Dr. Brown said. “We are excited that the Department of Public Health, in collaboration with CPE, will have a statewide list of all the campus dashboards. We are doing everything possible to give transparent and on time data to keep the public aware of what we are doing to keep our community safe.”

Gov. Beshear on Monday again noted numbers alone cannot convey the depth of losing a family member or friend to the coronavirus. He shared another personal story of the Kentuckians lost in this fight, this time tragically a front-line physician in Kentucky’s COVID-19 battle.

“I am heartbroken that Dr. Rebecca Shadowen has passed away after a four-month battle with COVID-19,” the Governor said. “She was a front-line hero who worked tirelessly to protect the lives of others.”

Dr. Shadowen joined the team at The Medical Center at Bowling Green in 1989. She was a physician leader across Kentucky and across the country for over 30 years.

Before testing positive for COVID-19 herself, Dr. Shadowen shared this message with Bowling Green’s WBKO-TV news, encouraging people to wear masks: “What is the value of a life?” she asked. “And if you could do something to save another’s life, without harming yourself, would you?”