FRANKFORT, Ky. — Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear recommended the closure of senior centers in the state, as well as wage replacement benefits for medical personnel in a press conference Friday morning.
As of March 13, Kentucky had 11 confirmed cases of the new coronavirus. Many school districts, including Jefferson County Public Schools, decided to cancel classes starting Monday, March 13.
At Friday's press conference, Beshear reiterated the importance of slowing the spread of the virus through social distancing. He reminded the public about the resources they have access to if they have questions, including the hotline and website set up by the state.
Here are the newest guidelines Governor Beshear issued Friday morning:
Gov. Beshear recommended the temporary closure of all senior centers. There are 195 senior centers and senior nutrition sites across the state and these centers provide meals for thousands of seniors in Kentucky.
Centers have plans in place to modify their meal delivery systems and will incorporate home delivery as well as a drive-thru for senior citizens.
The Department of Aging and Independent Living has diverted 19% of meal funds to these centers and Beshear said he will use part of the State of Emergency funds to help get meals to seniors.
If anyone believes they may have the virus, Beshear said they should not visit any senior relatives at this time.
First Responders and Medical Professionals
Effective immediately, the Kentucky Employers Mutual Insurance will provide wage replacement benefits for first responders and medical personnel who have been quarantined. Beshear praised the work of the state's medical professionals who are working through this virus. He said the wage replacement benefits will help make sure that those who are in self-isolation will not lose money while they are away from work.
His third recommendation was for state boards and commissioners to cancel in-person meetings and rely on video teleconference technology. The guidance implements a change to the 2018 Open Meetings Act.
Concerning testing, Beshear said that only those who have symptoms and would normally visit a medical professional should go to the doctor or hospital. While there are more labs to evaluate the tests, he said there are just not enough tests for everyone right now.
If you do not have symptoms or would not normally see a doctor for the symptoms you have, you are encouraged to call the COVID-19 hotline, which is (800) 722-5725. Beshear said he has personally not been tested.
If you believe you've come into contact with someone who has the virus, Dr. Steven Stack with the Department for Public Health said people should trust healthcare providers when it comes to testing. Some people can test positive without showing symptoms and others can test negative when they are showing symptoms, so while people want to be tested for reassurance, the test is not a "silver bullet."
The governor also took questions from the media on other topics related to coronavirus. Here are his responses:
Funeral Homes: The state is currently working on guidelines for funeral homes. Beshear stressed the importance of social distancing and recommended holding small gatherings now and larger ones in the future, once the spread of the virus has slowed.
Tax filing: Beshear said he is currently waiting on the federal government to issue any changes on the tax filing deadline.
Teachers in classrooms: The governor reiterated his recommendation that any employee that can effectively work from home should do so.
General Assembly: Beshear said the virus will affect the session in some way. He said the passing of the budget was critical. There is a possibility that the session could end early, but that decision is up to legislative leadership.
Daycares: More guidance is coming on how daycares should handle the social distancing guidelines. Beshear said the best idea was to not congregate in closed spaces and he stressed the importance of employers allowing employees to work remotely.
Governor Beshear will provide another update at 5 p.m. on Friday. He will also provide one update on Saturday and another on Sunday. Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer is expected to give an update on Louisville's plan to slow the spread of COVID-19 at noon on Friday.