With hundreds of thousands across the Ohio Valley struggling to make ends meet, a suite of coronavirus aid packages, including rent and utility relief funding, eviction moratoriums, and expanded unemployment benefits, is set to expire at the end of December.

The consequences could be far-reaching. Poverty rates have soared as some federal programs, including the additional $600 in weekly unemployment aid, came to a close. Now, over 75% of Kentucky’s 7,654 independent restaurants are in danger of closing permanently, according to the Independent Restaurant Coalition; one in three West Virginians is at risk of eviction; 16% of Ohioans are behind on their rent. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the national unemployment rate is 6.9% ⁠— well below the terrifying peaks of late spring, but twice what it was in February.

Even those who do have cash to spend are being more cautious with it.

You should be counting your Thanksgiving blessings if you have someone like Jasmine Surti in your immediate family or circle. She's a mother, a daughter, a friend to many in Lawrenceville, N.J. And she's the sort of super-planner who joyfully takes on the daunting task of organizing a pandemic Thanksgiving.

"Well, I guess I like to make spreadsheets and surveys and things," Surti acknowledges with sheepish pride. "Basically, problem solving, you could say."

Erica Peterson

Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron, along with a Christian private school in Danville, have sued Gov. Andy Beshear for his order that private schools temporarily stop in-person classes.

The suit, filed Friday in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky, alleges that the governor has violated the constitution with his recent COVID-19 restrictions, specifically the mandate that all public and private schools do remote learning for the next few weeks.

Danville Christian Academy, Inc., which teaches preschool through 12th grade, is the co-plaintiff on the lawsuit.

“The Governor’s school-closure order prohibits religious organizations from educating children consistent with and according to their faith,” Cameron wrote in a press release. “The ability to provide and receive a private religious education is a core part of the freedoms protected by the First Amendment. Religiously affiliated schools that follow recommended social-distancing guidelines should be allowed to remain open.”

Mika Baumeister via Unsplash

Gov. Andy Beshear announced on Saturday 3,711 new cases of COVID-19 in Kentucky. That’s the second-highest daily total of new cases yet. The record was set on Friday.

Beshear announced 21 new deaths due to the coronavirus. The positivity rate is 9.14%, meaning about one in every 11 people who get tested are positive. Beshear said 202 Kentuckians are currently on ventilators and 370 are in the ICU.

“We continue to be in exponential growth, which will threaten the health care capacity in this state,” Beshear said. “That’s why we’re taking action, and that’s why we’re fighting back.”

New restrictions aimed at schools, restaurants, bars and other public spaces began on Friday evening.

Wikimedia Commons

The Kentucky Supreme Court has issued new coronavirus restrictions that will affect courts across the state, including the delay of all jury trials until February.

The mandates come as Kentucky continues to experience a surge in new coronavirus cases. As of Thursday, the state had broken its daily record for new cases four times in the previous nine days.

Kentucky Supreme Court Chief Justice John Minton wrote in a statement that courts need to restrict activities to protect the public and staff from exposure to the virus.

“People can choose whether to eat at a restaurant or go shopping, but in most instances they don’t get to choose whether they go to court. We have a responsibility to do all we can to keep people from being exposed to a potentially fatal virus,” Minton wrote.

Alice Welch

A study published Thursday in a prestigious scientific journal links significant increases in COVID-19 transmission rates to meatpacking plants, especially those facilities that the federal government has allowed to speed up processing lines.

Researchers found evidence that linked meatpacking plants to a “high potential for community spread” in the surrounding areas. The findings have implications for the Ohio Valley, where Tyson Foods plants in western Kentucky and southern Indiana received waivers this spring to increase work line speed even as dozens of workers were falling ill to the virus.

J. Tyler Franklin

The State Board of Elections has certified Kentucky’s election results.

The process was drama-free compared to other states, where Republicans continue to question results that show Joe Biden winning the presidential election over incumbent Donald Trump.

Like the rest of the country, Kentucky shifted heavily to mail-in and early voting to try to ease crowds on Election Day during the coronavirus pandemic.

Republican Secretary of State Michael Adams said that voters and officials were able to handle the election despite the new processes.

facebook/Teresa's Restaurant

As COVID-19 surges across Kentucky, new statewide restrictions prohibiting indoor dining for bars and restaurants go into effect Nov. 20 at 5 p.m. and last through Dec. 13.

One local business impacted by the new restrictions is Teresa's Restaurant, a Bowling Green eatery known for home cooking.

The restrictions during the pandemic have caused financial strain for the popular restaurant and the newest rule that prohibits indoor dining is the last straw, at least until Dec. 13. 

Owner Heather McGuffey said the restaurant has no outdoor dining and a previous attempt at take-out meals during an earlier restriction on indoor dining didn't work out.  So she decided to close Teresa’s when the latest rules go into effect.

Sumner Regional Medical Center via Facebook

As COVID-19 hospitalizations set new records nearly every day in Tennessee, doctors are speaking out about the dire situation they see in their emergency rooms with patients traveling hours to find a hospital that has space for them.

Physicians from Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Saint Thomas Health and TriStar spoke Wednesday on a video call, primarily reiterating their pleas for a statewide mask mandate. But they also revealed a more desperate situation than most hospital administrators have been sharing publicly.

“We have been frequently on diversion, meaning we don’t take transfers from other hospitals. We try to send ambulances to other hospitals because we have no beds available,” Dr. Jessica Rosen says.

President-elect Joe Biden received a bigger turnout in the Ohio Valley in 2020 than Hillary Clinton did in 2016. So did his opponent Donald Trump.

In an election that saw historic levels of voting nationwide, Democrat Biden added 3.2% to Clinton’s 2016 vote share in the Ohio Valley while Republican Trump improved 2.4% on his 2016 turnout.

Biden’s increase in vote share outpacing Trump’s gains doesn’t mean that he outperformed Trump. If anything, Trump continued to do well in three states of Ohio Valley: Kentucky, Ohio and West Virginia. He bagged more than 60% of votes in Kentucky and West Virginia and had 53.3% of votes in Ohio, once a swing state.

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New Weekend Programs Airing on WKU Public Radio

WKU Public Radio

New Weekend Programs Now Airing on WKU Public Radio

WKU Public Radio has some changes coming to our weekend programming lineup, aimed at enhancing the quantity and quality of shows our listeners can expect to hear on Saturdays and Sundays! The decision by American Public Media to halt production of Live From Here has led to some new additions to our weekends, and some changes to when a few current shows air. Starting Saturday, Sept. 19, our regular Saturday lineup will include an hour of Lost River Sessions Radio, the radio companion to the WKYU PBS series Lost River Sessions ; and the music program Mountain Stage .

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The novel coronavirus and the disease it causes, COVID-19, have had an enormous impact on daily life in Kentucky and the world, prompting governments at all levels to respond. Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear has been holding semi-regular news briefings about measures being taken in the state to combat the spread of COVID-19. Those briefings are being streamed live at Gov. Beshear's Facebook page and YouTube channel. You can access live webstreaming of the governor's daily news conferences by clicking on the links above.

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Ask Us Your Questions About Coronavirus In The Ohio Valley

The Ohio Valley ReSource and its seven partner stations in Kentucky, Ohio, and West Virginia have mobilized to cover the coronavirus pandemic and the profound effects it is having on how we live in the region. This is an anxious, bewildering time, and we know you have a lot of questions. We want to help answer them. Ask your question below and the ReSource reporters will try their best to find an answer.

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LRS Live Replay: Kyshona & Dax Evans

February's Lost River Sessions LIVE show at the Captiol Arts Center in Bowling Green was a special one. Fans saw local singer and songwriter Dax Evans take the stage, performing some heartfelt original songs. Meanwhile, Nashville artist, and former music therapist Kyshona, blessed the venue on the eve of her album release with new music.

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