FRANKFORT, Ky. (FOX19) - Gov. Andy Beshear exuded cautious optimism in his daily briefing Wednesday as he spoke on continuing efforts to reopen the state’s economy.
The governor repeated a vaccine will be required before the state can go back to its pre-pandemic ways, but affirmed that plans are in place, at least at the state level, to accommodate a ‘new normal’ of widespread testing, close monitoring, contact tracing and rapid response plans.
Testing of the general population is now such that Beshear said Kentucky will be able to meet a White House benchmark of being able to test two percent of its populations per month. For Kentucky that would equate to 88,000 monthly tests.
Beshear previously said Kentucky will have the capacity to test three percent of its population per month.
Additionally, response plans are in place in Kentucky’s extended-care facilities, Beshear said, with tests increasing ahead of the state’s announced comprehensive statewide testing.
As for schools returning to in-person classes, Beshear had this to say: “I desperately want to get there. We have got to get in a position to do it safely. That is why we are doing all this planning.
"That is my goal, to try to have this virus in a place where we can send our kids back to school in the fall.”
The governor said multiple plans will be needed as state officials and school superintendents watch how the virus reacts over the next month.
“Superintendents seem to see the flexibility it is going to take and are bought in to make sure we have the very best chance of going back to school in-person with our kids in the fall.”
Meanwhile, hospitals and healthcare facilities resumed non-emergency surgeries and procedures at 50 percent of their pre-pandemic patient volume on Wednesday. Hospitals now also have the discretion to allow one visitor per patient.
Several other sectors have already reopened: Horse racing (w/out spectators), manufacturing and distribution, office-based businesses, construction, pet grooming and boarding, photography and vehicle or vessel dealerships have followed.
On May 18, government offices and agencies are set to reopen, and retail and funeral services are scheduled to reopen May 20.
See the full reopening schedule here.
Beshear also discussed state and local governments needing additional stimulus money from Washington to fill widening budget gaps.
“Now is not the time to be timid,” the governor said. “Now is the time to make sure we do what it takes to get our country on the right track.”
Kentucky Health Commissioner Steven Stack, MD, said Wednesday a 10-year-old with pediatric inflammatory syndrome has been extubated.
Earlier this week, Beshear announced the 10-year-old patient and another 16-year-old patient had the syndrome, an inflammatory process that can produce cardiovascular collapse, respiratory collapse and other “life-threatening” problems in young people.
Kentuckians with questions about the syndrome can now contact the state’s pediatric COVID-19 hotline for information: 1.800.722.5725.
Beshear reported 227 new cases for a total of 7,080 on 117.395 tests, representing an increase of more than 7,000 tests from Tuesday.
The state’s positive testing rate of 6.03 percent is improved from Tuesday’s 6.2 percent and remains remarkable given health experts’ recommendations.
Beshear also reported 377 current hospitalizations and 215 current ICU visits, numbers largely unchanged from Tuesday.
Some 2,649 Kentuckians have recovered from the virus.
Beshear reported 5 additional deaths.
The eight-county region of Northern Kentucky currently has 807 confirmed cases and 50 deaths.