FRANKFORT, Ky. — Citing a surge in COVID-19 cases in Kentucky and across the U.S., Gov. Andy Beshear has recommended delaying the start of in-person classes in Kentucky until Sept. 28.
At his Monday COVID-19 press briefing, Beshear called opening schools while cases continue to rise “something that would defy logic, something that wouldn’t be safe to do.”
“It is a myth that kids do not get this virus," Beshear said. "It is a myth that kids do not spread this virus.”
At this time, the decision to open K-12 classrooms or keep students at home still rests with local school districts. In Northern Kentucky, Kenton County Schools said Monday educators would review the district's back-to-school plan and release more information soon.
The Kenton County School District is aware of Governor Beshear’s recommendation. We will review and release more information regarding the impacts on instruction as soon as possible.— KCSD (@TheKCSD) August 10, 2020
Aside from rising virus cases and positivity rate, Beshear said his recommendation aims to prevent interruptions that other states' school systems have seen, like the shutdowns required when coronavirus breaks out in those schools.
“If you come back for three days and then have to stop, and then have to get distance learning going, it might hurt your students even more," he said.
In addition, Beshear said some Kentucky families continue to go on beach vacations to COVID-19 hotspots in Florida and South Carolina, a factor which could further spread the virus as children return to school.
Beshear expressed concern last week that if the state's coronavirus positivity rate does not fall soon, school reopenings might be pushed back from the third week of August to a later date.
“I am for getting our kids safely back into in-person classes, even during this pandemic. It’s just getting them back at the height of the pandemic I think would be irresponsible," he said.
On Monday, Beshear reported two virus-related deaths for 775 total deaths and 35,254 total coronavirus cases in Kentucky. The state reported an "artificially low" count of 275 new coronavirus cases Monday due to a computer glitch preventing some new case reports from reaching state officials. Because of that, Beshear said that count will be revised as new case reports come in.
Kentucky's positivity rate has fallen slightly from 6% to 5.17%, and the state has now administered 700,417 coroanvirus tests.
Bars can reopen with 10 p.m. service cutoff
Effective Tuesday, Beshear announced a new mandate Monday to increase capacity for bars and restaurants to reopen at 50%, emphasizing the importance of restaurants to prioritize outdoor seating.
To reopen, bars and restaurants must observe a food and beverage service "cutoff" at 10 p.m., with establishments closing by 11 p.m.
Bars can expect to have an "enforced seating" rule, and bar patrons should expect to have an assigned seat in a bar and that they should sit in that seat unless making a trip to the restroom. All service and orders should take place at the table with the group or party that people come to the establishment with.
All employees and patrons must wear masks when not eating or drinking, and no one is allowed to congregate at the bar.
The update mirrors a similar practice mandated in Ohio at the end of July.
Mask mandate extended by 30 days
Beshear extended Kentucky's statewide mask mandate for another 30 days Thursday, saying that since wearing a mask became mandatory, the state has seen fewer positive COVID-19 cases this week than past weeks.
He said that future mask mandates could be enacted 30 days at a time, but pleaded with state residents to wear them regardless of any kind of state order. The governor called it a small thing that people could do for such a large reward.
"If we want to get some things back open, then we have to pause," Beshear said. "If we want to continue to grow our economy, this is our way."
Free testing in NKY this week
In Northern Kentucky, St. Elizabeth Healthcare and Covington's Gravity Diagnostics now offers free, appointment-only drive-thru testing at 25 Atlantic Ave in Erlanger. The site, the former Toyota HQ building off Mineola Pike, will be open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. You will be able to collect your own sample without leaving your vehicle and receive results within three to five days.
Additionally, appointment-only drive-up testing will be available through St. E at 7200 Alexandria Pike, Alexandria, starting Tuesday, Aug. 11. The free testing site will be open on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Schedule an appointment at those sites online at www.stelizabeth.com/covid-testing.
To find all coronavirus testing locations near you, click here.
Watch the replay of the briefing in the player below: