coronavirus

Cheryl Beckley | WKU PBS

Last week, Kentucky’s senior Sen. Mitch McConnell suggested that states be allowed to declare bankruptcy as they struggle with cratering tax revenues during the coronavirus pandemic.

The comments came as governors across the country are calling for federal help to prop up state budgets. Earlier transfusions of cash for states—of which Kentucky received about $1.6 billion—are only allowed to be used for response to the pandemic.

But allowing states to file for bankruptcy would require Congress to pass a law allowing it, state legislatures would have to enact their own policies and legal experts say it would likely be challenged for violating the U.S. Constitution.

Becca Schimmel / WKU Public Radio/Ohio Valley ReSource

New unemployment insurance claims in the Ohio Valley began to taper off this week as states make their way through the backlog of applications amid business closures forced by the coronavirus pandemic. But local economies still face a staggering number of unemployed, and many of those who are out of work are still awaiting help. 

About 211,000 people in Kentucky, Ohio, and West Virginia joined those seeking help during the economic downturn caused by the coronavirus pandemic. 

 

The latest claims push the regional total to nearly 1.8 million unemployment assistance applications from people in the Ohio Valley since mid-March. 


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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.

 


Kentucky Fairgrounds Field Hospital Open, But Empty

Apr 29, 2020
Dale Greer, U.S. Air National Guard photo

The field hospital at the Kentucky Expo Center in Louisville has nearly 300 beds ready to accept patients with COVID-19 should hospitals become overwhelmed, according to the Kentucky National Guard.

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear called for the field hospital in early April as cities around the world experienced a surge in patients in need of care because of the coronavirus pandemic. But as of Wednesday, the hospital had not received any patients.

“We’re there as long as the state needs us and I think this will be a resource available in the future, should we see a second spike,” said Major Stephen Martin, Kentucky National Guard spokesman.

J. Tyler Franklin

Gov. Andy Beshear said his ban on mass gatherings does not single out places of worship.

“I’m not trying to set rules that are difficult and I’m not trying to set rules that are controversial, I’m just trying to save people’s lives,” Beshear said at Tuesday’s briefing.

Earlier on Tuesday, Attorney General Daniel Cameron threatened to sue Beshear if he doesn’t allow religious organizations to hold in-person services during the pandemic. The ban went into effect on March 19.

Ryan Van Velzer

Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron has threatened to file a lawsuit against the state challenging the constitutionality of an order barring all mass gatherings including in-person church services.

Cameron, a Republican, asked Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear to rescind the order as it applies to in-person church services during a news conference on the steps of the State Capitol Thursday afternoon.

“The governor should allow churches to resume in-person services consistent with the Constitution and CDC guidelines,” Cameron said. “And if he doesn’t, then we will be forced to file a lawsuit and allow a judge to determine if his order, as it pertains to religious groups, is constitutional.”

 


Nicole Erwin / Ohio Valley ReSource

As President Trump ordered meatpacking plants on Tuesday to keep operating amid the coronavirus pandemic, more details are emerging about the concerns workers had about their safety at a facility in Louisville, where dozens of workers were infected and one died. 

 

The Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services reported as of Monday, the state was aware of 220 coronavirus cases at four meatpacking plants, including 34 cases at a JBS Swift plant in Louisville. The cabinet also reported one death — at that Louisville plant. 

 

Records of complaints filed with the Louisville Metro Public Health Department show that in early April employees were concerned that the company was not doing enough to protect them.

 

 


WPLN News

Liquor stores and breweries have been considered essential business in Tennessee throughout the coronavirus pandemic.

But just because they have remained operational, it doesn’t mean they are doing well. They have had to change how they do business in order to survive.

In late February, Southern Grist Brewing Company celebrated its anniversary of making some of the most experimental beer in the market.

Kevin Antoon, the founder, remembered the magnitude of the event. He said it’s unlikely to be repeated anytime soon.

Half the country has been personally economically impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, and overwhelming numbers of Americans do not think schools, restaurants or sporting events with large crowds should reopen until there is further testing, according to a new NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll.

President Trump does not fare very well as far as his handling of the pandemic goes. Most Americans, except Republicans, disapprove of the job he's doing, and there are massive divides by gender and educational level.

Carl Coffey

Some residents of Bowling Green and the surrounding area are getting tested for the coronavirus in a new type of waiting room: their car.

Drive-through testing began Tuesday morning at South Warren High School, and will continue into next week.

Carl Coffey, 31, and his wife, Brittany Coffey, 29, had an appointment Tuesday afternoon. The couple is in good health and not considered high risk.

Carl said he’s been sneezing, but thinks seasonal allergies are to blame, so getting tested for COVID-19 was mainly precautionary.

“We haven’t been traveling much in terms of going out in town. I’ll go to the store every so often, but just knowing there’s a bigger spike here made us concerned,” he said.


Americans are extremely concerned that the coronavirus pandemic will disrupt voting in November's presidential election, according to a new poll from Pew Research Center.

They also overwhelmingly support allowing everyone to vote by mail, even as partisan divides over mail voting expansions have taken hold at the national level over the past few months.

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As members of Congress push for allowing payday lenders to access federal loans, data show that their business in Kentucky dropped precipitously when the pandemic struck.

The industry processed about 20% fewer loans in March than it did the previous March, according to a monthly report provided to the Kentucky Department of Financial Institutions by the loan processing firm Veritec Solutions. That represents a drop in lending of $8.3 million in the short-term, typically high-interest loans.

The database shows loan volume ranged from 129,000 in March 2019 to as high as 168,000 loans the following August. But only 104,000 loans were processed this March, the lowest by far in the last year.

 


Debony Hughes remembers driving last week to a national park in the nation's capital where not everyone was practicing social distancing.

"It was a beautiful day; it was really crowded. We noticed that there were so many people without masks," Hughes says, recalling that it made the friend she was with particularly angry. "She started screaming out of the car, 'Put on your mask! Where's your mask!' "

Daniel Schneider/U.S. Army

The Kentucky Department for Public Health has confirmed 220 employees at meatpacking plants across Kentucky have tested positive for the coronavirus, with one employee death related to the virus in Louisville.

Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services spokeswoman Susan Dunlap in an email Monday afternoon said the Beshear administration is aware of cases and one death at four meatpacking plants in the state:

Feeding America Kentucky's Heartland

Hunger in Kentucky is increasing as COVID-19 precautions have shut down most businesses, while senior citizens and others with underlying medical conditions are staying home.

Emergency distributions are helping to keep food on the table during this difficult time.

Feeding America Kentucky’s Heartland has been assessing the 42 counties it serves. Executive Director Jamie Sizemore said the impact of the coronavirus pandemic means families just do not have enough money to pay for housing, utilities and food.

“Our partner agencies are reporting everywhere from a 30-60 percent increase in food assistance," said Sizemore. "And one of the things, obviously, we’re seeing is a lot of people that are first-time users of food banks or food assistance programs.”


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