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Beshear lays out plans to gradually reopen Ky. health centers, businesses

Masks required in essential businesses starting May 11
WCPO andy beshear AP file photo
Posted at 4:25 PM, Apr 27, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-27 19:48:14-04

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FRANFORT, Ky. -- As Kentucky began to reopen certain healthcare centers Monday, Gov. Andy Beshear is giving an update on these plans and coronavirus around the commonwealth at his daily press briefing.

Watch a replay of the briefing in the player below:

Monday brought "Phase 1" of Kentucky’s gradual reopening, which leaves most consumer businesses closed but allows some non-emergency health care services to begin operating while observing social-distancing safeguards.

Health care practitioners are now allowed to resume non-urgent/emergent health care services, diagnostic radiology and lab services in:

  • Hospital outpatient setting
  • health care clinics and medical offices
  • physical therapy settings, chiropractic offices and optometrists
  • dental offices (but with enhanced aerosol protections)

Every health care office that reopens must screen patients and employees for COVID-19 symptoms, have a stable supply of personal protective equipment and bar patients from receiving most visitors, among other provisions.

The state recommends in all phases that health care practitioners should "still maximize telehealth rather than in-person services."
Health care facilities should still not allow visitors except when necessary in end-of-life situations, or for vulnerable populations or minors. Even then, visitations should be kept to a minimum, the state says.

Kentucky health care facilities should also eliminate traditional waiting room or common seating areas, and instead use n traditional alternatives like parking lot "lobby.”

On Monday, Dr. Steven Stack of the Kentucky Department of Public Health assured Kentuckians that hospital systems are still open for all kinds of emergency care.

“If you need care … seek emergency care. The hospitals are prepared for you -- they are ready,” Stack said.

You can find more information on Kentucky's Phase 1 plans here.

Phase 2 , which begins May 6, will allow outpatient surgery, ambulatory and invasive procedures to resume.

Phase 3 is scheduled to start May 13 and allows hospitals and care facilities to begin performing non-emergency surgeries and procedures at 50% of their pre-COVID-19-era patient volume.

Phase 4 begins May 27, when most of the restrictions on types of procedures and volume will be left to the facilities to determine. However, oversight and guidelines meant to ensure that capacity remains in the system will continue.

Starting May 11, all Kentucky workers and customers inside an essential business will be required to wear cloth masks. Beshear said N95 masks should be reserved for medical staff and first responders.

If a business is not masking, that can be grounds to temporarily shut down that business. Grocery stores and other forward-facing business can refuse to serve someone not wearing a mask.

“This is going to look strange, and it’s going to look different to us,” Beshear said. “...I want us to know this is another small sacrifice we can take to make sure we can keep each other safe."

Beshear reported five new virus-related deaths, 87 new cases and one "probable" new case Monday. Now, 4,146 Kentuckians have tested positive for COVID-19 with 48,799 people tested. The state has reported 213 virus-related deaths so far, and 1,521 people have recovered from the virus.

Beshear said Monday that the state's unemployment system processed 150,000 claims and sent out roughly $174 million on Sunday night. There were 282,000 claims total in March, and 70,000 claims remain from March. Beshear said the system hopes to resolve 30,000 this week.