The Trump Administration this week announced international students holding F-1 visas would have to return to their home countries if they do not attend in-person classes this fall.

The move took many in higher education by surprise, including Western Kentucky University Associate Provost for Global Learning and International Affairs, John Sunnygard.

In an interview with WKU Public Radio, Sunnygard discussed how he found out about the change.

Ryan Van Velzer

Governor Andy Beshear has mandated Kentuckians wear masks in public, as coronavirus infections surge around the state and country.

The executive order Beshear signed Thursday requires Kentuckians to wear a mask in most indoor public places. That includes wearing a mask in retail, grocery stores and restaurants, except while eating. Customers who do not wear masks cannot be served, Beshear said.

“It’s no longer voluntary, it’s mandatory, and I’m willing to take whatever criticism comes with that,” Beshear said. “We have a ‘no shoes no shirt, no service.’ Well we’re in the middle of a worldwide pandemic. It’s now ‘no mask, no service.’”

The order goes into effect on Friday at 5 p.m. and will last for 30 days, after which the administration will review the state’s progress. Local health departments will enforce the requirement, which could include fines for chronic offenders.

J. Tyler Franklin

Gov. Andy Beshear said he’ll issue new “mandatory” requirements on Thursday amid rising cases of coronavirus in Kentucky.

For the second day in a row, Kentucky reported a higher than average number of daily cases. The state reported its second highest one-day increase in new cases Tuesday at 371. Wednesday’s figures added another 402 cases.

To date, more than 130,000 Americans have died from COVID-19 and the rate of new cases is rising in 38 states and U.S. Territories.

Christian County Man Warns Others To Take COVID-19 Seriously

Jul 8, 2020
Robert Ceiling/Hoptown Chronicle

When Robert Celing’s wife drove him from their home in Pembroke to Jennie Stuart Medical Center in Hopkinsville on June 21, he knew there was a possibility he had contracted COVID-19. He had a fever hovering around 100 degrees, and he felt too ill to stay home any longer and wait it out. 

What Celing didn’t know was how quickly his condition would decline after Tammy Celing handed him over to the hospital. Like others across the country whose loved ones have become infected, she could not stay at the hospital with her husband. 

A day after Celing was admitted, a doctor in the intensive-care unit said he needed to be intubated. A mechanical ventilator would take over for his lungs while they treated him for the respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus.


Kentucky’s public universities and colleges suffered a $145 million hit from coronavirus-related expenses and declining revenues, a top state education official said Wednesday.

The financial loss represents 17% of the money state lawmakers put towards funding higher education during the budget for the last fiscal year, which ended on June 30.

Aaron Thompson, president of the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education predicted during a legislative hearing on Wednesday that enrollment and revenue from events and tuition will continue to be down in the coming academic year.

Lisa Autry

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky is responding to reports that a business belonging to his wife’s family received help from a federal a loan program stemming from the coronavirus. 

According to data released on Monday by the U.S. Small Business Administration, the Foremost Group received at least $350,000 in loans under the Paycheck Protection Program.  The shipping business is owned by the family of Sen. McConnell’s wife, Elaine Chao.

Wikimedia Commons

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.

Stephanie Wolf

Kentucky’s Senior U.S. Senator, Republican Mitch McConnell, was in Kentucky Monday to talk about the $12 billion in CARES Act funding received by the state. McConnell’s first stop was at the Dare to Care food bank in Louisville, a nonprofit that received a Payroll Protection Program loan, where he spoke with reporters and greeted workers.

McConnell pointed to the food bank as one of the 47,000 small businesses in the state to receive a PPP loan, totaling $5.2 billion in federal funds.  At the first press conference, McConnell said he expects another federal relief package to get approval sometime in July, as the pandemic is “clearly not over”, he said. COVID-19 has been surging in states like Arizona, Texas and Florida. The senate majority leader said he thinks the next aid bill must address issues like healthcare, jobs, getting kids back in school and liability protection.

Blake Farmer | WPLN

Demand for COVID-19 testing is expected to surge again this week, following the Independence Day holiday and its gatherings of families and friends. And while Tennesseans have been encouraged to get tested, even without symptoms, finding the right testing site has remained a challenge because private providers often won’t test without symptoms.

For many, their first call is to their doctor, but very few primary care practices are offering coronavirus testing in the first place. Many have found it too difficult to maintain infection control and carry on with typical business.

There are some new walk-in clinics that specialize in COVID-19 testing, such as Complete Health Partners, which is offering curbside testing. CVS has even started offering a drive-up option in Tennessee with its Minute Clinics.

Ryland Barton

As Kentucky continues to struggle with a backlog of unemployment claims dating back to March, appointments to get in-person assistance with unfilled claims are now booked through August.

Gov. Andy Beshear’s administration set up an online portal for people to sign up for in-person help with unemployment benefits late last week, but the slots quickly filled up this week.

According to the state’s career center website, in-person appointments at the Kentucky Labor Cabinet building in Frankfort were booked through August 25 (as of Friday afternoon).

Bytemarks via Creative Commons

The state of Kentucky has hired an outside contractor to speed up the processing of unemployment claims. The coronavirus created nearly one million jobless claims in the commonwealth. 

Gov. Andy Beshear's administration has entered into a one-month contract with Ernst and Young to fix the massive backlog of applications. Three hundred of the accounting firm’s employees will begin processing claims on Monday, July 6. During a news conference on Tuesday, Beshear acknowledged the public's frustration with busy phone lines and lack of in-person assistance.

“The reality that we hear is that they can’t get somebody talking to them to fix their claim. We’re quadrupling our workforce," Beshear said. "They’re going to start calling people with the oldest claims first.”

Updated 8:15 p.m. ET

How severe is the spread of COVID-19 in your community? If you're confused, you're not alone. Though state and local dashboards provide lots of numbers, from case counts to deaths, it's often unclear how to interpret them — and hard to compare them to other places.

Kentucky is finishing up the final phases of reopening its economy with bars, public swimming pools, and event spaces allowed to reopen at half capacity Monday.

However, not everyone is rushing to open their doors to the public.

Bowling Green Parks and Recreation Director Brent Belcher said the Russell Sims Aquatic Center will not be reopening anytime soon. He said in a normal year over 75,000 people attend events and go swimming at the facility.

“So in other words, we have more than 1,000 people that attend a day. To get that down to a couple hundred people is not conceivable to us,” he said. 


The Board of Regents at Western Kentucky University has passed a budget that trims $27 million in costs, amid uncertainty from the coronavirus.

WKU is expecting its largest freshman class in 18 years this fall, which would have helped offset an overall decline in enrollment and tuition, but the school had to make further budget adjustments once the pandemic hit in March.

The 2020-21 budget approved in a special called meeting on Friday includes salary reductions for faculty and staff earning more than $50,000 annually, as well as freezes on travel and hiring.  The budget of more than $353 million represents a nine percent decline over the previous spending plan.

J. Tyler Franklin

Churchill Downs Racetrack says it will move forward with the 146th runnings of the Kentucky Oaks and Kentucky Derby with spectators in September.

The races, which historically happen during the first week of May, were delayed until September 4 and 5 because of the coronavirus pandemic.

On Thursday, Churchill Downs said the events would happen as planned, with restrictions, after consultation with Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear and state public health officials.