Officials with the Kentucky River District Health Department said that even though the facility continues to see a low number of COVID-19 cases in their seven-county service area, they still encourage people to practice social distancing, practice good hand hygiene and wear masks. KRDHD also said people should take advantage of the free testing being provided in the area and use caution with the reopening of public places.

Within the KRDHD service area, there have been 29 positive cases and one probable case, as of press time. Of those cases, said KRDHD, 27 have recovered. Testing availability is continuing to increase within the area, including the targeted testing of long-term care facilities, said KRDHD officials. Through a partnership between the health department and the CDC, the staff at the Perry and Wolfe County Nursing Homes have already been tested returning all negative results. This testing will be built upon by the state Department for Public Health to offer COVID-19 testing for all long-term care facilities in the region, said KRDHD officials.

As this week started the reopening of area businesses and organizations, KRDHD staff are encouraging the “Healthy at Work” phased approach to reopen Kentucky’s economy. This approach, said KRDHD officials, is based on criteria set by public health experts and advice from industry experts. Each phase will be rolled out in steps to ensure that the Commonwealth’s citizens can safely return to work while still protecting the most vulnerable Kentuckians.

The 10 rules to reopening a business under the “Healthy at Work” plan include: continuing to tele-work where possible; using a phased return to work; having on-site temperature/health checks; wearing universal masks and other necessary PPE; closing common areas; enforcing social distancing; limiting face-to-face meetings; offering sanitizer and hand wash stations; making special accommodations when necessary; and  having a testing plan.

On May 11, Gov. Andy Beshear began reopening sectors of the economy that were closed due to COVID-19, including construction businesses, horse racing (no fans), manufacturing and distribution businesses, office-based businesses (50 percent), pet grooming facilities, photography studios and vehicle or vessel dealerships. However, each entity reopening must meet certain minimum requirements in addition to industry specific guidance. If any entity in a sector being reopened cannot comply with the minimum requirements or industry-specific requirements, they must wait to reopen until they are able to do so or until some or all of these restrictions are lifted.

On May 18, government offices and agencies may reopen. On May 20, funeral homes and retail stores may reopen. Beginning on May 22, restaurants may reopen at a 33 percent capacity and must offer outdoor seating options. Effective May 25, cosmetology businesses, hair salons/barbershops, massage therapy, nail salons, tanning salons and tattoo parlors are able to reopen. Fitness centers and movie theaters will be able to reopen on June 1, campgrounds may reopen on June 11 and childcare centers may open on June 15. On July 1, bars may open and people may gather in groups of 50 people.

KRDHD wants to remind people to be prepared for the possibility of state and local public health orders being extended, amended, or changed as needed to protect public health, meaning they may move between the different phases during the pandemic.

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