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More than 48,000 Kentucky businesses, schools and other organizations received loans from the federal Paycheck Protection Program as of the end of last month, but most of the $5.2 billion awarded in the state went to a small percentage of those businesses.

The loans are intended to help employers weather the coronavirus pandemic and don’t have to be paid back if businesses retain jobs and most of the money is used for payroll.

The U.S. Small Business Administration released data on Monday showing which businesses received the loans by the end of June.

Ryan Van Velzer

Gov. Andy Beshear said businesses that have opened up under reduced capacity during the coronavirus pandemic will be able to have more customers by the end of the month.

Restaurants, retail stores and barber shops have been allowed to operate at 33% of their occupational capacity since last month, but that number will go up to 50% starting one month after they reopened.

Beshear said business owners and customers have gotten used to shopping and eating while following social distancing and sanitary rules.

National Corvette Museum

Museums, libraries, distilleries, aquariums, and outdoor attractions opened their doors on Monday for the first time in nearly three months. 

The venues are resuming operations under Kentucky’s phased-in reopening of the economy stemming from the coronavirus. 

New and renovated exhibit spaces await visitors at the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green. President and CEO Sean Preston says the visitor experience won’t be that different compared to before the pandemic began.

Kentucky Bourbon Trail

The Kentucky Distillers’ Association is awaiting approval of its 30-page proposal submitted to Gov. Andy Beshear in advance of the June 8 reopening date for distilleries.

Distilleries are expected to welcome visitors with lots of COVID-19 safety precautions in place, as required by the state’s Healthy at Work guidelines.

The proposal submitted by the Kentucky Distillers’ Association has recommendations for the 18 distilleries on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail and 20 on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail Craft Tour.

The leader of a Muhlenberg County town said the economic damage inflicted by the COVID-19 pandemic will force city and county governments to make “impossible” budget choices.

Greenville Mayor Jan Yonts joined her Louisville counterpart, Greg Fischer, Thursday on a conference call with reporters, asking the U.S. Senate to pass a relief bill with economic aid for state and local governments.

Yonts said her county government is now operating on a $2.3 million dollar budget shortfall due to the economic damage caused by the coronavirus. She said a recent string of local drug overdose deaths, burglaries, and fatal fires show the need to maintain essential services.

Josh Parker

Businesses across Kentucky are reopening with safety guidelines to prevent the spread of COVID-19.  

A music store in Somerset is one of the thousands of businesses across the Bluegrass State adapting to the new reality.

Josh Parker enjoys demonstrating one of the most popular guitars at the shop he owns in Somerset, Earl Brooke’s Piano and Music Center.  

“It's a Yamaha Transacoustic, just due to the fact that it’s an acoustic guitar, and it’s actually acoustic electric, so you can play acoustic or you can plug it into an amp," said Parker, who has owned the music store for about a year.

The United States is still losing jobs at an alarming pace two months after the coronavirus pandemic took hold.

Another 2.4 million people filed claims for unemployment last week, the Labor Department reported Thursday. That's down 249,000 — or 9% — from the previous week, but still painfully high by historical standards.

In the past nine weeks, jobless claims have totaled 38.6 million. That's roughly one out of every four people who were working in February, before the pandemic hit.

Lisa Autry

Cash registers are ringing in Kentucky for the first time in two months. Retail outlets reopened on Wednesday following a shutdown from the coronavirus.

Dixieland Boutique in Bowling Green opened Wednesday without a lot of fanfare. Owner Brittany Blackerby said normally when there’s a sale or special occasion, the clothing store will heavily promote it and do giveaways.

“I was little hesitant to do it in the same way this time because we need to maintain social distancing, so we didn’t want a line at the door or a lot of people coming in at once," Blackerby told WKU Public Radio. We wanted it to be like a normal day.”

Blackerby said customer traffic steady was steady throughout the day.

Updated at 3:49 p.m. ET

The coronavirus pandemic has taken a hit in the paychecks of close to half of U.S. households, the Census Bureau says.

Since March 13, 47% of adults say they — or another adult in their home — have lost employment income, while 39% say they're expecting their households to earn less from work over the next four weeks.

With the first of the month coming in less than two weeks, more than a fifth of adults report they have just slight or no confidence in their ability to make their next rent or mortgage payment on time.

Becca Schimmel

A survey of businesses in the Somerset region found that more than 90 percent of them are being impacted, in some way, by COVID-19. 

The Somerset-Pulaski County Chamber of Commerce surveyed 158 people in the business community to gather perspective on restarting the local economy.

Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Bobby Clue said the goal was to quantify perspective from a wide representation of businesses.

“It was a very well-rounded collection," said Clue. "We had everybody from retail and entertainment to restaurants and hotels, health care, agriculture, manufacturing and industry, real estate, banking education, nonprofits, technical services, all those were represented.”

The survey found that about one-quarter of those who responded reported a 50 percent decline in revenue.

Becca Schimmel

Businesses are asking to be shielded from lawsuits filed by customers and employees who contract coronavirus, but labor groups worry that doing so would chip away at protections designed to keep workers and customers safe.

The proposal, which is currently being discussed in Congress, comes as many non-essential Kentucky businesses that have been closed during the pandemic are starting to reopen.

Federal lawmakers are debating whether to pass another coronavirus relief package for people, businesses and state governments struggling during the pandemic.


J. Tyler Franklin

Kentucky restaurants will be able to open at one-third capacity starting May 22 as part of a new schedule of business reopenings announced by Gov. Andy Beshear.

Movie theaters and gyms will be able to open on June 1, campgrounds on June 11, childcare and outdoor youth sports on June 15 and bars and groups of 50 on July 1.

Beshear said businesses will have to meet social distancing, sanitary and personal protective equipment requirements in order to open.


The private sector slashed a record 20.2 million jobs between March and April — a somber preview of Friday's monthly jobs report. That's up from the 149,000 private jobs cut a month earlier.

Trish Pugh started an Ohio trucking company with her husband in 2015. Even for a small business, it's small — they had two drivers, counting her husband, until they let one go because of the coronavirus crisis.

And so her company applied for a loan under the first, $349 billion round of the Paycheck Protection Program, which the federal government had set up to rescue small businesses.

It didn't go well.


Gov. Andy Beshear is moving forward with reopening non-essential parts of Kentucky’s economy during the coronavirus pandemic, saying that he still believes the virus has “plateaued” in the state.

Beshear announced that starting on May 11, businesses in the following industries will be allowed to reopen: manufacturing, construction, professional services, car and boat dealers, pet grooming and boarding and horse racing.

Previously, Beshear had said the state would have to show a 14-day decline in coronavirus cases, and significantly expand its testing and contact tracing capabilities, in order to start easing restrictions. That was in line with White House recommendations. Kentucky has not yet shown a consistent decline in cases.