Non-life-sustaining businesses in Kentucky will be required to close to in-person traffic as of 8 p.m. Thursday night because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Gov. Andy Beshear made the announcement Tuesday night. Details of what businesses will and will not be covered by the order will be released today (Wednesday), but Beshear said many businesses will still remain open, but with mandated social distance rules.
The order will not affect food and beverage services, which are already operating under strict restrictions, and will also not affect grocery stores, pharmacies, banks, agriculture, gas stations, or media.
Meanwhile students should be preparing for more home schooling this year. Beshear on Tuesday signed Senate Bill 177, which went to effect immediately, allowing school districts to have unlimited Non-Traditional Instruction days, and waive in-person attendance requirements. The state will also cancel K-Prep school tests this year because of the virus.
Jenkins Independent Schools Superintendent Mike Genton said on Monday that his staff is already preparing lesson plans for NTI days for the remainder of the school year in case that is needed.
As of Tuesday, 163 Kentuckians have tested positive for COVID-19, 39 new since Monday. Beshear said about 33 percent of those have required some type of hospitalization, and four have recovered completely. Three have died.
The virus has also made its way into eastern Kentucky with at least one case each reported in Breathitt, Menifee, and Martin counties. Closer to Letcher County, Lee County, Va., has reported two positive tests. In total, Virginia is reporting 290 positives and 7 deaths.
One case in eastern Kentucky apparently was a college student who went on spring break in Florida and returned with the virus. Another was a person who attended a “Coronavirus Party.”
“It was a group of young adults in their 20s, I guess who thought they were invincible, and flaunted the mass gathering prohibition,” Beshear said.
The usually unflappable governor admitted early on in his presentation that the party made him angry, because those people “may think they’re indestructible, but it’s someone else’s loved one they’re going to hurt.”
But, Beshear was careful not to identify the person, saying he or she made a mistake and “it should not follow them the rest of their life.”
“When we get through this, we should forgive this person, but no more of these statewide — ever,” Beshear said.
In addition to the closures, Beshear noted good news. He lauded Sullivan University, which donated personal protective equipment to Norton Healthcare in Louisville, and praised Kentucky food processors and bourbon makers that have converted production to hand sanitizer and are supplying barrels of the disinfectant to hospitals. Someone also dropped off 4,000 testing swabs anonymously to the state health department. He urged residents to light up their houses with green lights in memory of those who have died, and asked churches, synagogues, mosques and other houses of worship to ring their bells every day at 10 a.m. to remind people who are homebound and who don’t live with others that they are not alone.
He also urged residents to post good social distancing modeling on social media using the hashtags #TeamKy #TogetherKy #Patriot and #HealthyAtHome.