COVID-19

Public Domain

Three Kentucky residents have filed a federal lawsuit accusing the governor and others of violating their religious freedom during the coronavirus pandemic. 

The group is suing over restrictions placed on Easter Sunday worship services.

The lawsuit was filed against Governor Andy Beshear, Boone County Attorney Robert Neace, and Eric Friedlander who is the acting secretary of the state Cabinet for Health and Family Services. 

J. Tyler Franklin

On the final day of the legislative session, state lawmakers overrode Gov. Andy Beshear’s line-item vetoes to the state budget and revenue bills, all measures that he said would limit his ability to address the coronavirus pandemic.

Democrats have criticized the bill for limiting how Beshear’s administration would be able to transfer federal funds between various state agencies.

Rep. Steven Rudy, a Republican from Paducah and chair of the House budget committee, said that if the governor needs more flexibility moving money around, the legislature needs to be included in the process.

J. Tyler Franklin

 Dozens of protesters gathered outside the state Capitol building in Frankfort Wednesday to protest Gov. Andy Beshear’s closures of businesses in response to the coronavirus.

At times it was difficult to hear the governor’s daily briefing over chants, and what sounded like a horn, blaring outside the Capitol.

“Open up Kentucky!” and, “Let us work!” were some of the chants protesters shouted while gathered in direct defiance of Beshear’s order banning events with more than 10 people. Video footage posted by the Courier Journal shows protesters surrounding the building and standing closer than the recommended 6 feet apart.

Beckett Gilmore

With the coronavirus forcing schools across Kentucky, and the nation, to shut down, educators are being pushed into new territory.

A husband and wife, both teachers in Owensboro Public Schools, are expanding the boundaries of the classroom to keep students engaged while they’re learning at home. Sarah and Joshua Sullivan are among thousands of teachers across the U.S. who are creating the new reality for education in this unusual time.

When it became clear that Owensboro Public Schools would close down to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, sixth grade social studies teacher Joshua Sullivan said educators leaped into action. 

The school district actually set up Google Classroom to have special NTI classes,” said Sullivan, who teaches at Owensboro Middle School. 


Ryan Van Velzer

Gov. Andy Beshear has announced Kentucky now has 2,048 confirmed coronavirus cases and 104 deaths associated with the disease. He said that the number is likely higher due to lab closures over the Easter holiday.

Beshear said the state Capitol flag will be flown at half-mast for the next week to mark the 104 coronavirus-related deaths.

“Every Kentuckian we lose is one of us. And even if a report is one or two, it is still a loss to all of us,” Beshear said.

At least 629 people in Kentucky have recovered from the virus.

Updated at 4:15 p.m. ET

President Trump at a briefing Monday night made an assertion that likely would have surprised the framers of the U.S. Constitution: that as president, his authority is "total" and that he has the power to order states — which have told businesses to close and people to remain at home to limit the spread of the coronavirus — to reopen.

Education leaders in Kentucky say any high school senior who was on track to graduate in May will still do so, despite the lengthy period of school closures brought on by the coronavirus.

The Kentucky Education Department's Education Continuation Task Force has been meeting to discuss how high school graduation requirements will be met for the Class of 2020. 

Local school districts have the option of waiving any additional graduation requirements beyond the 22 credits required by the state.  School systems could also choose to eliminate elective requirements and lower the number of required credits to 15.

Some Kentucky churches are having to think creatively ahead of Easter Sunday, which will be unlike any other due to the coronavirus. 

For most Christians, there will be no sunrise services, new spring dresses, large family meals, or egg hunts.  Instead, families will stay home and many churches will do what they have done for the past month by streaming their services through online platforms such as Facebook and YouTube.

Stuart Jones is senior minister of First Christian Church in Elizabethtown, which typically has about 1,000 members who attend its two Sunday morning services.  He said the message will be the same this Easter, despite the unconventional circumstances.

Updated at 6:25 a.m. ET, April 11

Just over a week ago, the worldwide death toll linked to the coronavirus stood at around 50,000 — a staggering sum for a virus that was still largely unknown to the world at the start of the year. Now, that death toll has doubled.

Jataun Isenhower FB

A Kentucky nurse is at the epicenter of the nation’s coronavirus outbreak.  More than 15,000 patients in New York City alone are overwhelming hospitals and creating the need for more frontline workers. 

Jataun Isenhower is a nurse at the Medical Center in Bowling Green.  She left her job and family behind to work at Elmhurst Hospital in Queens for at least three weeks. 

"We talked about the risk, and I said if I worked in Bowling Green, Louisville, or Nashville, I would be exposed to the same thing," Isenhower said in an interview with WKU Public Radio. "The difference is, I'd be bringing it home to you guys everyday, so this seemed like a better option for the family overall."

Multiple U.S. senators are sounding the alarm about the solvency of a recently enacted $350 billion emergency lending program for small businesses, calling for Congress to pass another wave of funding as soon as this week.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced he will work with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer to get the Senate to approve, without objection, another influx of cash on Thursday.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is aggressively advocating for a second wave of legislation on top of the recently enacted $2 trillion rescue package to confront the coronavirus pandemic, but her Senate counterpart, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, is advocating for a more cautious wait-and-see approach.

Ryan Van Velzer

Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear says his administration is doing everything it can to prepare hospitals to be inundated with cases of COVID-19, but nearly every time the state has placed an order for medical protective gear, the federal government has prevented its transfer.

Kentucky is scaling up the number of hospital beds, enlisting state manufacturers to make protective equipment and doing its best to acquire supplies for medical workers amid a critical shortage.

State officials have also requested additional gloves, masks and other personal protective equipment (PPE) from the Strategic National Stockpile, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and through private contracts.

At a White House briefing on Tuesday, Dr. Deborah Birx, the coronavirus response coordinator, laid out a grim vision of the future.

The best computer models, she said, predict that between 100,000 and 200,000 Americans will die from COVID-19 during the coming months, even if the country continues the strict social distancing measures that most states have adopted. Relaxing those restrictions would send the toll much higher.

WPLN News

Non-essential businesses across the state have been ordered to close as part of Gov. Bill Lee’s latest executive order.

Lee says this will strengthen the recommended social distancing to prevent the spread of coronavirus. But the governor stopped short of requiring people to stay at home.

“This is not a mandate for people to shelter in place,” Lee told reporters in a videoconference Monday. “This is an urging for citizens to not utilize non-essential businesses.”

Pages