FRANKFORT, Ky. — Gov. Andy Beshear announced 688 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, including 96 in children under 18. Beshear reported 10 new virus-related deaths in Kentucky on Tuesady, for a total of 44,587 statewide cases and 895 deaths since the pandemic began.
"We're going to have a lot of these... just because of the number of cases. That's a result of how well we do out there at wearing our masks and reducing our contacts," he said.
Kentucky's virus positivity rate rose once again to 5.07% on Tuesday, and Beshear said the state's positivity rate has hovered around 5.8% since early this month. Though exponential case growth of case numbers has stopped, total cases have not stopped rising.
The state has administered more than 831,302 coronavirus tests so far. Kentucky's travel advisory, which at one point advised Kentuckians not to travel to more than a dozen states, has been reduced to five: Idaho, Mississippi, Nevada, South Carolina, Texas.
NKY Health reports that 3,604 people across Boone, Kenton, Campbell and Grant counties have tested positive for COVID-19, and 85 people have reportedly died of the virus. The health department reports 669 active cases and 2,850 people who have recovered from coronavirus as of Tuesday.
For the first time, Beshear also released data on COVID-19 cases in schools on Tuesday. In Northern Kentucky, three total active cases were reported out of Diocese of Covington schools, including two students at Covington Catholic High School and one case at St. Paul Catholic School. Neither school has reported any staff testing positive for COVID-19.
Northern Kentucky University also reported three active COVID-19 cases in students. The university did not report any staff who tested positive for COVID-19.
NKY counties in COVID-19 'yellow zone'
Several Northern Kentucky counties, including Boone, Campbell, Kenton, Grant and Carroll counties, have positivity rates between 5% and 10%, according to the latest White House report.
That puts them in the White House's "yellow" zone, a step below the "red" zone denoting a 10% or greater positivity rate. Now, 16 counties of Kentucky's 120 counties are currently in the red zone, down from 20.
White House data shows most Northern Kentucky counties are in the "yellow zone" with coronavirus positivity rates between 5% and 10%. Beshear said this rating system may determine future actions in different counties, possibly including another recommended delay for in-person schooling in red counties.
$8M dedicated to 'Last Mile' internet for K-12 students
Lt. Gov. Jacqueline Coleman announced a plan Tuesday to allocate $8 million in CARES Act funding to “Last Mile” internet service to all K-12 students in Kentucky.
Students currently without internet access from low-income homes will be eligible to have the full $10-per-month cost paid through the next school year. Students with internet access from low-income homes will be eligible to have nearly all of the monthly cost paid through the federal Lifeline program for the next two or three school years.
“COVID-19 has not only created new and unique challenges we must confront, it has brought to surface issues that have been plaguing our communities for generations. These underlying issues disproportionately affect communities of color and Kentuckians who live in poverty. One of these issues is lack of access to high-speed internet," she said.
Coleman said before the pandemic, approximately 90% of Kentucky’s K-12 students had internet access, and that number has grown to 95% over the past five months.
The state will send out a request for proposals by Sept. 15 with a goal of identifying providers that can supply high-speed internet service for all Kentucky K-12 students in low-income homes at no more than $10 per month for the next two to three school years.
Plan to prevent evictions during pandemic
With a new executive order Monday, Beshear announced Kentucky will prohibit landlords from charging late fees, interest or other penalties on renters who can't pay due to the COVID-19 pandemic from March 6 through Dec. 31, 2020.
Additionally, the order creates more steps before eviction processes can begin, and it requires landlords to meet with nonpaying tenants to work out plans to keep them housed. Beshear had suspended evictions as the pandemic took hold.
"We believe that it is a framework that is going to be workable and is going to help a lot of Kentuckians," Beshear said at his daily briefing.
To do this, the state will dedicate $15 million in CARES Act funding to create a Healthy At Home Eviction Relief Fund to help those in need pay rent and remain in their homes.
Kentuckians will be able to apply for the fund beginning Sept. 8. Details on how to apply are coming soon, Beshear said.
The Team Kentucky Fund, Kentucky Housing Corporation Emergency Solutions Grant and other local funds will also be available to help, he added.
Beshear said the program aims to address three concerns: "Wanting to make sure that people can stay in their home; that they’re not gaming the system at the expense of a landlord that is also a commercial enterprise — a business — feeding a family that deserves to be treated fairly; and, finally, wanting to make sure we don’t have a lot of Kentuckians emerging from this crisis with a ton of debt they cannot climb out of."
Fall sports can go ahead at Kentucky high schools
Beshear reluctantly said he would not overturn the Kentucky High School Athletic Association board of control's decision to approve athletics contests for sports including football, soccer, volleyball, and cross country starting the week of Sept. 7.
"It is not because I think it is a good decision or a wise decision, but if we’re gonna defeat this virus, we need people other than me or up here all over Kentucky taking responsibility to make good and wise decisions," he said Monday.
Parents from Northern Kentucky and across the commonwealth are gathered outside the capitol Monday afternoon Beshear gave his daily update on COVID-19, calling on the governor to allow sports to resume this school year.
Beshear expressed doubt about starting sports this early, including the possibility that cancellations of sports that start too early would trigger cancellations of later sports seasons.
“We risk a shortened season. We risk what I think can be successful plans to get our kids back in school. We risk every other sport that’s going to follow. But we can’t be making every decision for what’s best for folks out of the governor’s office, and it’s going to be incumbent on our supers, our coaches, on our different groups to make the wisest decisions that they can," Beshear said.
More money coming for unemployed
Beshear announced Friday that with new federal aid, eligible unemployed Kentuckians will $400 per week in additional assistance through FEMA’s Lost Wages Assistance program.
Beshear said Kentuckians receiving unemployment benefits could expect the additional help, which would be $300 per week for three weeks from the federal government plus $100 from the state, starting in early September. Now that the application is approved, it will take another two weeks to reconfigure Kentucky’s computer payment system to get the money to people in need.
“We fully intend to provide additional unemployment further (than three weeks), it’s going to depend on the amount of money the federal government has," Beshear said at his daily press briefing.
The $400 will apply to traditional UI, the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program and the extended benefits programs, he said.
“We believe this will make us the first state to apply that plans to fund the full $400 promised in the President’s memorandum," Beshear said.
Find free testing in NKY
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. 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 a replay of the briefing in the player below: