Gov. Andy Beshear gave a “concrete plan” as to how Kentucky will reopen during his daily press briefing on Friday.
The governor revealed the seven benchmarks that Kentucky must reach to reopen at least parts of the state’s economy that has been shuttered for about a month. The open is that some positive signs happen maybe before the end of the month.
“We’ve provided as concrete a plan as far as when and how we will reopen as any state has,” he said. “I hope it does give you what we’re looking at, where we need to be. I hope we see the ability to start reopening in some very small ways leading up to May.”
The plan starts with having 14 consecutive days where the coronavirus is in decline. That is a prerequisite that has to be reached before anything else can happen, he said. The White House has a three-phase plan that mirrors much of what Kentucky is doing.
“We are going to work hard to open our economy,” Beshear said. “But we want to make sure we do it smart and do it safely. That’s what everybody out there wants.”
Regardless, it’s going to be a long road. The first phase of reopening, based on guidelines from the White House, have many restrictions. Schools stay closed, groups cannot gather larger than 10, bars stay closed and gyms can open only with social distancing. Large venues could only open if there is social distancing and there are still no outside visits to senior living facilities.
Businesses that can reopen will be restricted too and would have to be able to check the temperatures of customers as they arrive.
Here are the seven benchmarks Beshear and his administration will be looking at when it comes to loosening restrictions.
Number and rate of new cases
Dr. Steven Stack, the commissioner for the state’s Department for Public Health, said “the No. 1 thing we need to see is 14 days of actually coming down. We have to prove we are actually going down.”
Currently, Beshear said, it appears Kentucky is at the top of the curve. “We’ve almost cut the top off that muffin,” he said. “We have to show not that you’re going up or are at a plateau, but that you are truly going down with less cases day after day in an actual trend.”
Increased testing capacity and contact tracing
Stack said Kentucky, like most states, need to drastically improve the testing capacity. He said if Kentucky tested 0.1 percent of the population it would take 13,500 tests per day. They have done about 3,000 per day and 30,000 total.
The tracing contact is going to take additional staff, which Beshear said could be paid for through some of the CARES Act. It’s critical that those who have come in contact with someone who has the virus self-isolates for 14 days to prevent another resurgence, Stack said.