COVID-19

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Reports of doctors stockpiling medicine that may treat the COVID-19 disease led the Kentucky Board of Pharmacy on Wednesday to adopt new measures restricting when pharmacists can dispense the drugs.

The drugs are not yet proven to treat the virus, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Despite that, President Donald Trump has promoted several of them as treatments and there’s been a nationwide run on the medications. The drugs included in the board’s order include chloroquine, hydroxychloroquine, mefloquine and azithromycin. The board will also be able to set limitations on any other medication used to treat the coronavirus disease, as the need arises.

As the new coronavirus continues to spread around the globe, researchers say the virus is changing its genetic makeup slightly. But does that mean it is becoming more dangerous to humans? And what would the impact be on any future vaccines?

WKYU

WKU Public Radio is looking for community members willing to share their stories on how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted their lives.

Maybe you’re a business owner who’s had to abruptly adjust with increasing precautions? Or, maybe you’re a student adjusting to life away from the classroom? Your story matters, and here’s a chance to share it with the world.

LRC Public Information

A Republican state representative has filed a measure that would allow people and businesses to sue the governor if they feel emergency restrictions are unnecessary, too broad or last too long.

The legislation comes after Gov. Andy Beshear, a Democrat, has ordered many businesses across the state to be shut down or closed to in-person traffic during the coronavirus pandemic.

Rep. Savannah Maddox, a Republican from Dry Ridge and the measure’s sponsor, said in an email that it would protect Kentucky workers and business owners from government overreach.

J. Tyler Franklin

A team of researchers including a mathematician from the University of Louisville are poring over the numbers trying to estimate how far the coronavirus will spread in states like Kentucky.

The number of confirmed cases has accelerated since January with global cases surpassing 400,000 cases on Thursday, according to Johns Hopkins University. The U.S. Surgeon General said this week “it’s going to get bad” as Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear warns it will get worse before it gets better.

Researchers are tracking the virus like a hunter stalks its prey — picking up clues along the path. It’s not easy with only weeks of data at their fingertips, but their estimations can help governments, hospitals and communities make more informed decisions.

Office of Governor Andy Beshear

Gov. Andy Beshear announced that all non-life sustaining businesses in Kentucky will close to in-person traffic on Thursday. He said an executive order enforcing the closure will go into effect at 8 p.m that day.

Details specifying what businesses are life-sustaining will be released tomorrow, but Beshear said grocery stores, pharmacies, banks and gas stations are among those that will remain open.

The order is one of many that have temporarily shuttered some Kentucky businesses. Beshear ordered non-essential retail stores to close their doors to in-person business on March 23. An earlier order closed “public-facing” businesses like gyms and hair salons. Restaurants can continue to offer take-out, delivery or curbside service but dining rooms remain closed.

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With Kentucky’s economy slowing to a trickle during the coronavirus pandemic, the state’s already cash-strapped coffers and services are going to take a big hit.

The outbreak presents a massive challenge, both for Kentuckians who rely on state programs and for lawmakers currently trying to finalize a two-year state budget to possibly pass out of the legislature on Thursday.

Kentucky’s two-year revenue growth was already predicted to be lackluster before the pandemic and the state is facing several financial pressures from the growing prison population, Medicaid costs and struggling pension systems, among others.

Creative Commons

The weeks of standardized tests Kentucky schools spend all year preparing are being canceled. The Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) says the federal government will grant the state’s request to cancel testing for the 2019-2020 school year because of closures and other challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic.

“The Kentucky Department of Education has been informed by the U.S. Department of Education that we meet the requirements for the waiver of assessment & accountability for the 2019-20 school year and that formal approval is forthcoming. As a result, we are canceling the administration of 2020 K-PREP,” KDE spokeswoman Toni Konz Tatman wrote in an emailed statement.

Updated at 7:35 p.m. ET

In his Tuesday afternoon briefing with the coronavirus task force, President Trump couched earlier comments about the need to reopen the U.S. economy within weeks, emphasizing that the decision would ultimately be data driven and made in consultation with public health experts.

The president said he still wants Americans working again by Easter Sunday, something he first said during a virtual town hall with Fox News earlier in the day. But he was much more circumspect over whether that would be possible from a medical standpoint.

Updated at 1:27 p.m. ET

A Senate agreement on a third wave of emergency funding to address the coronavirus could be "hours" away, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Tuesday, as Republicans and Democrats seemed close to bridging disagreements that have stalled a deal on the approximately $2 trillion package.

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Religious faith services are among the parts of life being cancelled because of the coronavirus pandemic.

As a result, one church in Evansville, Indiana, is offering worship at a drive-in service.

Bethel Church in Evansville posted an invitation on its Facebook page: “Join us for a drive-in prayer and worship gathering from the safety of your vehicle.” 

In a video clip, the Courier and Press captured Lead Pastor Dr. Prince Samuel delivering his Sunday morning sermon on the topic "Faith Flattens Fear" on the drive-in screen. 

"There are going to be some tough times," said Samuel. "When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown." 

Samuel and the regular worship team, which includes musicians, lead the service on the outdoor stage set up in the church parking lot. Video screens allowed viewing from every part of the parking lot.

As Samuel wrapped up his message with, “Have a great week. We’ll see you next week," the response from the members of the congregation in their parked cars was a chorus of honking horns. 

Ohio Valley Coal Industry Braces As COVID-19 Impacts Electricity Demand, International Exports

Mar 24, 2020
Peabody Energy Inc. via Wikimedia Commons

As states across the Ohio Valley order the closure of non-essential businesses to help slow the spread of the coronavirus, coal mines will remain open. But as with many industries, the global pandemic is straining the coal sector, and some experts say the already struggling industry could face intense challenges in the months ahead as electricity demand flags and international exports stall.

“What we’re going to see is a big drop in Q2, that is without question,” said Brian Lego, referencing the coming second quarter reports, which will reflect the stark new economic reality. Lego is an economic forecaster who studies the coal industry with the Bureau of Business and Economic Research at West Virginia University.

 


Daniel Cameron Twitter profile

The Kentucky Attorney General’s office is investigating hundreds of complaints from consumers about alleged price gouging as the COVID-19 pandemic sweeps across the state.

The office tallied 860 complaints by Monday afternoon, said Attorney General Daniel Cameron. 

The complaints have flooded into the office since Gov. Andy Beshear declared a state of emergency on March 6 and issued an order prohibiting price gouging the next day. 

In an interview Tuesday, Cameron said the complaints are primarily related to the sale of consumer food items, emergency and medical supplies. The alleged violators include brick and mortar shops and online retailers, but Cameron declined to provide details, citing ongoing investigations. He said his office has issued letters to some companies, but has yet to issue any fines.

Office of Governor Andy Beshear

The novel coronavirus and the disease it causes, COVID-19, have already had an enormous impact on daily life in Kentucky and the world, prompting governments at all levels to respond.

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear has been holding a daily press conference at 5 p.m. eastern to update the public on the commonwealth's response to the pandemic.

"I want America to understand this week it's going to get bad," U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams said Monday morning, speaking about the COVID-19 pandemic and efforts to stop the coronavirus from infecting more people in the U.S.

Adams also urged people to stay home to prevent the respiratory virus from spreading — and he said too many people in New York and other states are ignoring guidance to observe social distancing and avoid close contacts with others.

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