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Beshear says Ky. faces 'significant' budget shortfall due to COVID-19

State predicts up to $496M deficit
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Posted at 4:20 PM, Apr 30, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-30 20:47:34-04

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FRANFORT, Ky. -- Gov. Andy Beshear says due to coronavirus and the state's response, Kentucky's budget office predicts a “significant" general fund shortfall between $319 million and $496 million when the fiscal year ends in June.

At his daily update on coronavirus around the commonwealth Thursday, Beshear said budget officials expect an additional road fund shortfall of up to $196 million.

“All 50 U.S. governors are pushing, are lobbying, are pressing the federal government and Congress to include direct budget assistance to states and local governments that are facing the same thing,” Beshear said Thursday.

To help the state's response, Beshear called for federal aid to get through this, including “direct budget assistance” similar to federal aid offered during the Great Recession.

“What we are facing right now is a worldwide health pandemic that comes with another great recession," he said. "They did it then. They need to do it now.”

Beshear reported five new virus-related deaths Thursday for a total of 240 virus-related deaths across the commonwealth.

There were 174 new cases reported Thursday, meaning 4,708 Kentuckians total have tested positive for COVID-19. More than 500 of them are out of Northern Kentucky.

More than 56,500 people have been tested for COVID-19, and 1,675 people have recovered from the virus.

Beshear added that the number of new cases and virus-related deaths have not increased day-over-day, indicating that coronavirus numbers are plateauing in Kentucky.

On Wednesday, Beshear outlined the types of businesses that can begin reopening as early as May 11, provided those businesses follow precautions Beshear laid out on Tuesday.

The types of businesses that can reopen on May 11 include:

  • Manufacturing
  • Construction
  • Vehicle/vessel dealerships
  • Professional services (50%)
  • Horse racing (without fans)
  • Pet grooming and boarding

On May 20, retailers can also reopen as part of Kentucky's "Phase 1" reopening.

Houses of worship will be able to hold in-person religious services "at reduced capacity" starting May 20. On Thursday, Beshear said his administration is working on specific details and seeking input from local faith leaders.

On May 25, social gatherings of 10 people can resume, and salons, barber shops and other cosmetology services can reopen as part of Phase 1.

Beshear said at this time, restaurants, gyms, campgrounds and youth sports would be in Phase 2 depending on how coronavirus "reacts to changing temperatures." Summer camps, daycares will not reopen in Phase 1, and public pools will not reopen in Phase 1 or Phase 2.

Beshear had unveiled new guidelines Tuesday for businesses reopening later this month, including extending teleworking wherever possible, limiting meetings and administering onsite temperature checks for those returning to work in-person. Starting May 11, all Kentucky workers and customers inside reopened businesses will be required to wear cloth masks.

Earlier Wednesday, a University of Kentucky study said social distancing measures imposed by the state have spared Kentucky from a dramatically higher outbreak of coronavirus cases.

According to the Associated Press, based on the study's model, positive COVID-19 cases statewide would have reached nearly 45,000 by April 25 without any state-mandated measures, but actual cases were under 4,000 at that point. Based on the state's COVID-19 fatality rate and the study, the restrictions saved a projected 2,000 lives so far.

Watch a replay of the briefing in the player below: