Sydney Boles / Ohio Valley ReSource

Just 15 percent of Kentucky counties meet minimum recommended coronavirus testing levels, according to a new report from health care company Castlight. Sixty-seven percent of West Virginia counties and 31 percent of Ohio counties met the threshold. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that states have the capacity to test 1 percent of the population every seven days. 

Forty-eight states —  all but Kentucky and Colorado —  meet that threshold at the state level. But a county-by-county analysis shows that higher levels of testing in urban counties disguises a lack of adequate testing in rural areas. Nationwide, nearly twice as many counties lacking adequate tests were rural. 

J. Tyler Franklin

You could say that Kentucky’s junior senator Rand Paul has assumed the position of contrarian-in-chief during the COVID-19 pandemic. He’s challenged public health experts and claimed Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear is a “dictator” because of restrictions imposed to help slow down the spread of the virus.

Many of Paul’s claims aren’t backed up by science, but in an age when politicians rarely get punished at the ballot box for such behavior, there may be little political risk for him.

Paul raised eyebrows last week for picking a fight with Anthony Fauci, the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, during a Senate committee hearing.


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.

Ryan Van Velzer

Kentucky museums, outdoor attractions, aquariums, libraries and distilleries will be allowed to reopen starting June 8, Gov. Andy Beshear announced during his Tuesday briefing. 

He said they’re still working out specific guidance for these industries, but “this gives these businesses some advance notice.”

Like retail and restaurants, which have reopening dates this week, these businesses will have to operate at 33% capacity and individual groups must be 10 or less.

Beshear said he hopes to see the Louisville Zoo reopen this summer as well. But his administration hasn’t spoken to any zoo officials yet.

SRMC via Facebook

Tennessee nurse practitioners hope looser regulations during the pandemic have shown they don’t need a medical doctor checking their work — often for a fee. They’ve battled mandatory chart reviews in the legislature for years.

Nurse practitioners and physician assistants were temporarily freed from what they see as merely paperwork oversight in mid-March with Executive Order 15 from Gov. Bill Lee. The sweeping order also relieved advanced practice nurses of site visits from a doctor every 30 days.

“It just calls into question whether this is even needed at all,” says Vanderbilt University Medical Center’s April Kapu, who will soon lead the American Association of Nurse Practitioners.

Kentucky funeral homes and memorial services can increase capacity Wednesday, after limiting services to 10 people or less due to the coronavirus pandemic. Those facilities will now be allowed to operate at 33% of the building’s occupancy.

Kevin Kirby is the owner of JC Kirby and Son Funeral Chapel in Bowling Green, and the Warren County Coroner.  

He said he’s offering families the option to have a memorial service later when more people would be able to attend. 

“And there are several families that opted for that. Then there are a lot of families that said ‘no, we don’t want to do that because we don’t want to go through it a second time,'” he said.

Aging is Cool

An exercise program for older adults, developed around bingo, is adapting to the social distancing of COVID-19. 

Bingocize was created by Western Kentucky University Associate Professor of Exercise Science Jason Crandall. It's based on the game of bingo, with frequent intermissions for simple exercises to improve balance and range of motion, such as reaching upward, or rotaitng wrists or ankles. Health education is also built into the game.

Socialization is also an important aspect of Bingocize, since it's recognized as a factor in warding off depression.

J. Tyler Franklin

Kentucky is expanding its contact tracing capacity, Gov. Andy Beshear announced during his Monday briefing.

“This isn’t just me,” he said. “This is the president too. This is Democrats and Republicans, federal government, state government. This is public health experts saying this is what’s got to happen for us to have a safe reopening, and to restart our economy without pausing it.”

Beshear said they’ll use CARES Act funding, over a seven-month period, to hire and train staff and put together an online tracking system.

Kentucky BioProcessing

While the coronavirus is a worldwide pandemic, the answer to stopping its spread could be found in Kentucky. 

Kentucky BioProcessing announced in April it was developing a potential vaccine for COVID-19. The biotech firm has been injecting tobacco plants with a genetically modified coronavirus to see if it can produce antibodies for a possible vaccine.

KBP says its vaccine candidate has completed pre-clinical testing and has produced a positive immune response.  It’s now ready for human clinical trials, pending approval from the Food and Drug Administration. 

A vaccine manufacturer is reporting preliminary data suggesting its COVID-19 vaccine is safe, and appears to be eliciting in test subjects the kind of immune response capable of preventing disease.

Moderna, Inc., of Cambridge, Mass., developed the vaccine in collaboration with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. The results reported Monday come from an initial analysis of a Phase I study primarily designed to see if the vaccine is safe.

J. Tyler Franklin

Gov. Andy Beshear announced that Kentucky state parks, campgrounds and aquatic centers will be allowed to reopen on June 1. The recreational spaces have been closed since March to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

“Tourism is an incredibly important business in Kentucky. We’re taking a big revenue hit from it,” Beshear said. “But that’s not the reason we’re reopening it now. It’s that we believe we can do it safely.”

Beshear said he believes opening parks and campgrounds will help “boost the state’s economy,” and allow Kentuckians the opportunity to travel in-state this summer.

WKU Public Radio

The SoKY Marketplace in Bowling Green is going back to holding its in-person farmer's market on Saturday mornings this month.

The season was set to begin in April, but management pushed it back due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Changes made to prevent the spread of COVID-19 include the spacing of stalls by 10 feet, the installation of mobile handwashing stations, and requirements that all vendors wear a mask.

Sarah Cline, director of operations for SoKY Marketplace, said not all sellers feel comfortable setting up this year.

J. Tyler Franklin

Gov. Andy Beshear is moving up the date that people will be allowed to travel and gather in groups of 10 or fewer to Friday, May 22. That’s three days sooner than his original plan to lift the restrictions on Memorial Day, May 25. Beshear said he has decided to accommodate the holiday weekend.

“I’ve got to live in the real world like everyone else,” Beshear said during his daily news briefing Thursday. “I understand what people are going to want to do, and my job is to get the best results.”

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.


Sydney Boles / Ohio Valley ReSource

The coronavirus pandemic continues to spread across the Ohio Valley Region. But stay at home orders and social distancing restrictions reduced the number of cases modelers projected without them. 

Now there is pressure to ease the restrictions and open states’ economies back up as the businesses that were closed struggle to find relief and record numbers of people apply for unemployment.

Here is a brief rundown of how West Virginia, Ohio and Kentucky plan to reopen businesses.