Restaurants across Tennessee are able to welcome dine-in customers Monday for the first time in nearly a month as the state eases restrictions put in place to help stem the spread of the coronavirus.

The step toward some semblance of normalcy comes a day after the state reported its highest single-day jump in newly confirmed COVID-19 cases, 478, which officials say represents a 5.2% increase from the previous day.

J. Tyler Franklin

More than 4,000 people in Kentucky could die over the course of the coronavirus pandemic if social distancing and other mitigation tools were abandoned, according to a “best guess” model created by federal health officials in early April.

The virus has so far claimed 185 Kentuckians, and the state is on track for far fewer deaths than scenarios outlined in the federal models.

The model was included in documents prepared by the federal Department of Health and Human Services that were obtained by the Center for Public Integrity and shared with the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting. The documents also show models for neighboring states including Ohio (more than 11,000 deaths), West Virginia (more than 2,000 deaths) and Indiana (more than 6,000 deaths).

J. Tyler Franklin

Gov. Andy Beshear on Wednesday announced that drive-thru coronavirus testing sites across the state will be open to the general public. The tests were initially reserved for health care workers, first responders and those especially vulnerable to the virus.

New sites will also open in Louisville, Lexington, Owensboro and Bowling Green next week.

Beshear said the expansion is an important step as Kentucky tries to increase its testing capacity before reopening its economy.

“At this point we want to use our capacity, we want to get some extra data, too, about what’s out there, maybe learn a little bit about some asymptomatic rates,” Beshear said.

Jae Foley FB

High school seniors in Kentucky are now facing the reality there won’t be prom, graduation ceremonies, and other rites of passage this year because of the coronavirus. 

Governor Andy Beshear canceled the remainder of the school year to in-person learning and other activities this week. 

Jae Foley, a senior at Bowling Green High School, says there’s one particular event she was looking forward to the most.

J. Tyler Franklin

Gov. Andy Beshear announced 17 new deaths due to coronavirus on Tuesday, bringing the state’s total to 171. There are 3,192 people who have tested positive for the virus, with 177 new cases.

Beshear said 13 of the new deaths were nursing home residents and that 42 percent of the state’s coronavirus deaths have been associated with nursing homes.

Kentucky’s situation would be worse if people weren’t working to stop the spread of the disease, Beshear said.

Updated 11:35 a.m. ET

When it comes to testing for COVID-19, there are two competing narratives. The Trump administration claims the U.S. has been doing well and has enough testing capacity, for states to begin to enter the first phase of the White House plan for reopening.

But many public health officials, hospital administrators and state leaders disagree.

Earlier this week, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said during a CNN interview that a lack of testing is a problem and "has been since the beginning of the crisis."

J. Tyler Franklin

Gov. Andy Beshear announced that Kentucky has surpassed 3,000 confirmed coronavirus cases, and says the state is still likely in the “plateau” of the pandemic.

Beshear announced 102 new cases of coronavirus on Monday, bringing the state’s total to 3,050. He also reported 6 new deaths, for a total of 154.

The number is far lower than Sunday’s record high 273 cases, but Beshear said today’s number is likely higher due to some labs that process results being closed over the weekend.

Lake Cumberland Regional Hospital

Hospitals across Kentucky are experiencing a dramatic decline in revenues as elective procedures are cancelled in order to focus on treating COVID-19 patients.

Lake Cumberland Regional Hospital is one of the health care organizations temporarily trimming its staff to deal with the financial challenge.

The hospital in Somerset is putting 17 percent of its staff on temporary leave, with 25 percent salary and continuing benefits for those employees.

Kentucky Grocers and Convenience Store Association

An industry group says many grocery store shelves in Kentucky and nationwide could continue to look apocalyptic for a while. 

With fewer planes flying cargo, and freight restrictions at trade ports, the supply chain has been hindered by the global coronavirus pandemic.  However, some experts says bare shelves are mostly the result of changes in shopping habits.  With schools out and stay-at-home orders in place, consumers continue to make panic runs to grocery stores.

J. Tyler Franklin

At his briefing on Friday evening, Gov. Andy Beshear announced criteria Kentucky will use to decide when to ease coronavirus restrictions.

The benchmarks fall in line with what the federal government has recommended—states need to show a consistent decline of new coronavirus cases, increased testing capacity and wider availability of personal protective equipment.

Once that happens, Beshear said some businesses will be able to reopen, as long as they meet strict social distancing and sanitary guidelines.

Beshear said he will be taking proposals from businesses about how they could operate.

Newton Parrish Elementary

With all schools in Kentucky shut down during the pandemic, one elementary school in Owensboro is a good example of how educators are developingnew procedures to get lessons to students. 

All of the 560 students at Newton Parrish Elementary get 10 days of printed lessons at a time. That’s to make sure even students who don’t have internet at home can keep up with their schoolwork.

Principal Steve Bratcher said after teachers prepare their lessons, instructional assistants copy them and place them in each classroom.

“And at that point, the teachers come back to school and put the first and last name on baggies, we bought Ziplock baggies, two-gallon baggies, and the teachers place those in the conference room, once they have everything bagged up, ready to go,” said Bratcher.

Updated at 2:30 p.m. ET

Urged by President Trump, states across the country are beginning to eye the next phase of their response to the coronavirus: the cautious process of lifting their widespread restrictions, piece by piece, and returning to a semblance of daily life before the pandemic settled in. But how should that happen — and when?

J. Tyler Franklin

Gov. Andy Beshear says it’s unlikely that Kentucky will begin easing coronavirus crowd restrictions and business closures starting May 1, as Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine said would happen in his state.

At Thursday’s briefing, Beshear said that the state is looking at several different metrics for how to determine when it’s safe to start opening Kentucky’s economy up, but that May 1 “is a hard day to hit.”

“It’s really gradual and phased in, every plan we see out there,” Beshear said. “Late May or June, we hope there are certainly some things Kentuckians will be able to be doing again.”

The Trump administration announced new guidelines Thursday for states to reopen businesses and schools and relax social distancing measures, but public health experts say the plan skirts a major hurdle needed to safely get things moving: a shortage of tests for the coronavirus.

TriStar Greenview Regional Hospital

Medical professionals are asking people to avoid the emergency room so they don’t overwhelm hospitals, or contract or spread COVID-19. But one Bowling Green cardiologist is finding that some patients are waiting too long.

Dr. Jerry Roy, an interventional cardiologist who is Chest Pain Medical Director at TriStar Greenview Regional Hospital, said he's had several patients who have been afraid to come to the hospital because of fear of contracting COVID-19.

He said those suffering symptoms of stroke or heart attack can’t afford to put off getting help, and delaying treatment for more than a couple of hours can cause permanent damage. For example, if a patient has chest pain and their medicine is not effective at any time, they should immediately seek treatment.