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Kentucky's Response to COVID-19

The following table shows the actions taken by Governor Beshear since the first case of novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) was confirmed in Kentucky. Actions are listed by date from newest to oldest.

Issued an executive order allowing critical workforce sectors to rehire previously retired workers to fill key roles. The order, which last the duration of the state of emergency, applies to law enforcement, firefighters, emergency medical service personnel, park rangers and corrections officers.

Issued an executive order easing restrictions on nurses who live out of state and making it quicker to obtain a license.
Issued an order that restricts out-of-state travel, with four exceptions: 1) travel to other states for work or groceries, 2) travel to care for loved ones, 3) travel to obtain health care and 4) travel when required by a court order.
​3/28/2020 Announced that Kentuckians can still go to Tennessee for work, to take care of a loved one or even buy groceries if it is closer, but the Governor asks that unnecessary travel to Tennessee end. He asked Kentuckians not to travel across the southern state-line to partake in activities that have been limited, or were limited earlier in Kentucky.
​Announced a new website portal to connect businesses interested in donating services or supplies with Kentuckians and Kentucky medical facilities in need.

Asked mayors and county judge-executives to monitor people gathering in public places such as parks and stop them if people are not practicing social distancing and risking the spread of COVID-19.
3/25/2020 Announced unemployment eligibility has been expanded effective immediately due to COVID-19. Individuals typically not covered by unemployment insurance, including self-employed, independent contractors, freelance workers, substitute teachers, childcare workers employed by religious affiliated organizations and non-profits can now file. Those who left their job for “good cause” because of reasonable risk of exposure (self-quarantine) or due to caring for a family member affected by the virus are also eligible. To file a claim, visit
Suspended evictions in the state of Kentucky for the duration of the COVID-19 Emergency.
Announced Kentuckians would begin to see National Guard and additional law enforcement at local hospitals beginning this week.
Entered new orders to allow for more telehealth options in Kentucky than ever before.
​Effective Thursday, March 26, at 8 p.m., all non-life-sustaining businesses must cease all in-person services.

The businesses that can stay open include: grocery stores, drug stores and pharmacies, banks, hardware stores, agricultural operations, gas stations, media, businesses needed for transportation, logistics, shipping, delivery and pick up, housing, building and construction, laundry, financial services, home-based care and services, professional services, manufacturing and other businesses key to national interests or life-sustaining goods or services, and those covered under the federal critical infrastructure sector.

Most professional services, including attorneys, accountants and those in real estate, can be performed at home. As the Governor has said previously, restaurants can remain open for delivery, curbside pickup and even carry out if they follow guidelines on social distancing.
3/24/2020Announced Gov. Beshear would sign an executive order closing all non-life-sustaining businesses to in-person traffic by Thursday at 8 p.m. Businesses that can stay open still need to practice safe social distancing. The businesses that can stay open include: grocery stores, drug stores and pharmacies, banks, hardware stores, agricultural operations, gas stations, media, businesses needed for transportation, logistics, shipping, delivery and pick-up, housing, building and construction, laundry, financial services, home-based care and services, professional services, manufacturing and other businesses key to national interests or life-sustaining goods or services, and those covered under the federal critical infrastructure sector.

The Governor said most professional services, including attorneys, accountants and those in real estate, can be performed at home. Restaurants can still remain open for delivery, curbside pickup and even carry out if they follow guidelines on social distancing.

​The Kentucky Department of Education has canceled plans to administer the K-PREP assessment for the 2019-2020 school year. The move comes after a waiver was granted by the U.S. Department of Education. K-PREP testing will resume in spring 2021 and current assessments will be in effect until then.
Announced that Kentucky is significantly ahead of other Southern states in preparedness, volunteer coordination and meal delivery programs for seniors. On Monday, March 23, 11,825 meals were served statewide, an increase of 3,825 meals (150%), according to the Department of Health and Family Services.
Announced state workers would begin helping at food banks because of the low number of volunteers those organizations have seen during the coronavirus outbreak.
3/23/2020​Gov. Beshear signed an executive order to cease all elective medical procedures. He previously recommended ceasing them, but additional action became necessary because some groups did not follow the original guidance.
Announced changes in mass layoff parameters. Any employer with at least 50 employees, who is laying off at least 15 employees, is encouraged to file a claim on behalf of their employees through the E-Claims process. 138 state workers have been trained for Unemployment Insurance claims adjudication to alleviate any case backlog.
In collaboration with the Kentucky Public Protection Cabinet (PPC), Gov. Beshear took executive action to establish the Team Kentucky Fund, a fundraising platform designed to provide financial assistance to Kentuckians whose employment has been affected by COVID-19. He challenged Kentuckians who are able to make a tax-deductibledonation.
​To combat guideline noncompliance, Gov. Beshear announced the COVID-19 Reporting Hotline. To report an incident, call 1-833-597-2337. Labor Cabinet personnel will monitor the hotline from 7:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. ET and will respond to messages left after hours.  A new website where Kentuckians can visit to make online complaints is
Encouraged all TV and radio stations to conduct Public Service Announcements (PSAs) about social distancing and other state guidelines to combat the coronavirus.
​3/22/2020​Gov. Beshear announced that all in-person retail businesses that are not life-sustaining will close effective Monday, March 23, at 8 p.m.
  • Life-sustaining retail businesses that will stay open include grocery stores, pharmacies, banks, hardware stores, gas stations and other businesses that provide staple goods. A full list of categories of life-sustaining, in-person retail businesses is attached to the order.
  • Entertainment, sporting goods, clothing, shoe, jewelry and furniture stores, florists, bookstores and auto dealers are among those business that will close. Non-essential retail businesses, while they cannot allow Kentuckians into stores, can still fill phone and online orders through curbside services or delivery.
  • Retail businesses that remain open must follow, to the fullest extent practicable, social distancing and hygiene guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Kentucky Department for Public Health, which includes ensuring physical separation of employees and customers by at least six feet when possible; ensuring employees practice appropriate hygiene measures and ordering sick individuals to leave the premises. Failure to follow the order could subject a business to closure.
​3/21/2020Extendedexecutive order to prohibit price gouging for 15 more days. The order can continue to be renewed as needed. If anyone has information regarding possible price gouging, contact the Attorney General's Consumer Protection hotline at 1-888-432-9257 or fill out the complaint form online.
​3/20/2020Recommended Kentucky schools cease in-person instruction until at least April 20.
​Successfully qualified the entire state for Small Business Administration disaster certification. Now, small businesses, for-profit contractors and private non-profits anywhere in Kentucky that have been harmed by the COVID-19 pandemic are eligible to apply for low-interest SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loans.
  • Businesses should also work with their banks, credit unions and other lenders. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) has encouraged financial institutions to assist and work with customers in a “prudent manner,” especially borrowers and customers from the most affected industries.
  • SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loans applications can be completed and filed online at The SBA is also mobilizing call centers to assist in the loan-application process. Call 1-800-659-2955 (TTY: 1-800-877-8339) or e-mail To view a copy of the SBA fact sheet, click here.
Mirrored the federal government by delaying the tax filing deadline by three months from April 15 to July 15.
Announced that Kentucky’s bourbon distillers are working with the state to produce and distribute hand sanitizer.
Announced that businesses have stepped up to donate N95 masks: Toyota (1,827 masks), Gray Construction (50 masks), AE Electrical Solutions (40 masks). Plumbers and pipefitters have also donated respirators.
3/19/2020Issued interim guidance for establishing partnerships between approved health care facilities and limited-duration child care programs to support child care for employees of health care entities, first responders (Law Enforcement, EMS, Fire Departments), corrections officers and Department for Community Based Services (DCBS) workers. The guidance is online at and directly linked below.
Announced that restaurants that have an active liquor license, that are also doing food delivery or carry out, may also deliver sealed alcoholic beverages, in their original containers to customers.
Issued a formal letter banning all mass gatherings. The measure states what Gov. Beshear has previously recommended, including:
  • All mass gatherings are hereby prohibited.
  • Mass gatherings include any event or convening that brings together groups of individuals, including, but not limited to, community, civic, public, leisure, faith-based or sporting events; parades; concerts; festivals; conventions; fundraisers; and similar activities.
​3/18/2020​The Department of Community Based Services extended certification periods for all recipients of all public assistance programs for three months.
Made changes so that any of those who are now unemployed, who have lost benefits, can immediately apply for Medicaid.
Suspended all charitable gaming licenses. (e.g. Bingo halls must close.)
Announced that repository institutions (banks) are financially strong, well-capitalized, and well-managed. There is no need to make a run on them. There is going to be a reduction of lobby access, and a change of hours; they will accept loan applications online or by phone, and they are going to perform transactions electronically.
Announced that our food chain is safe, there is going to be enough out there for everyone.
3/17/2020Closed the State Capitol to non-essential personnel.
Closed state government buildings across Kentucky to in-person services.
​Signed an executive order that by 5 p.m. Wednesday, March 18, all public-facing businesses that encourage public congregation or that by the nature of their service to the public cannot comply with the CDC guidelines concerning social distancing are going to have to cease their operations. These businesses must include: entertainment and recreational facilities, community and recreation centers, gyms and exercise facilities, hair salons, nail salons, spas, concert venues, theaters, and sporting event facilities.

There are some businesses that are exempt: food providers, food processors, agriculture, industrial manufacturing, feed mills, construction, trash collection, retail, groceries, consumer goods, home repair, hardware, auto repair, pharmacies, other medical facilities, biomedical, health care, post offices, insurance, banks, gas stations, laundromats, veterinary clinics and pet stores, warehousing, storage, distribution, public transportation, and hotel and commercial lodging can all remain open at this point, but must follow the CDC guidelines for social distancing. Malls are considered retail, so they are not a part of the executive order at the moment.
​The state is working with federal partners to continue the Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) payments on behalf of qualified families for centers during the mandatory closure period. The state will also be covering co-payments typically covered by families.
​Acute facilities should be discouraging all visitors at this time except for end-of-life circumstances.
​Psychiatric facilities should restrict visitation and only allow it if deemed medically necessary by the attending physician, administrator, and medical director.
​Senior care facilities and intermediate care facilities should limit visitation only to loved ones of those who are receiving end-of-life care, and for those residents they should expect to shelter in place.
Issued interim guidance for adult day care centers that requires the temporary closure of all licensed adult day care centers beginning on March 20.
​Posted on our website different examples of how state government is shutting down in-person services. We will work with Kentuckians to provide services remotely.
3/16/2020Moved the Emergency Operations Center to level 3. That helps us with preparation and response.
​Signed an executive order to close all restaurants and bars to in-person traffic. Exceptions for drive-through, delivery, and in some instances, take out.
Waived the waiting period for unemployment for people that are losing their jobs due to coronavirus, and will waive any work search requirements while the state of emergency is in effect.
Asked childcare centers across Kentucky to close by end of business on Friday, with some exceptions in the policy for health care workers and on-site employers.
Provided a three month extension on driver's licenses.
Applied for an SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan Declaration.The U.S. Small Business Association is offering designated states and territories low-interest federal disaster loans for working capital to small businesses (private and non-profit organizations) suffering from substantial economic injury as a result of the coronavirus.
​With the recommendation from our Secretary of State, postponed the primary elections by the 35 days allowed under state law. That means they will be moved to June 23, 2020.
3/15/2020Brought Kentuckians on the Grand Princess cruise ship back home.
3/14/2020​Followed the emergency declaration from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, which provides regulatory relief for commercial drivers who are providing direct assistance to COVID-19 relief efforts.
​The USDA approved our waiver to be able to serve meals to students during Non-Traditional Instruction (NTI).
​Issued guidance to state agencies to decrease on-site staffing by at least 50 percent to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
Asked Kentucky hospitals to cease elective procedures by close of business Wednesday, March 18.
​Guaranteed that COVID-19 testing would be free to all Kentuckians, even if they are uninsured.
Asked childcare centers to create plans for closure they could implement within 72 hours if deemed necessary.
Took the steps to force a home isolation when the COVID-19 patient initially refused to self-quarantine.
Issued tips and guidance to help support good mental health and relieve anxiety.
​3/13/2020Recommended the temporary closure of senior centers to help halt the spread of the virus for those most vulnerable. Meals will still be available at many senior centers via drive through pick-up or delivery.
Announced effective immediately that Kentucky Employers' Mutual Insurance (KEMI) will provide wage replacement benefits for first responders and medical personnel who have been quarantined for COVID-19 as a result of their increased risk of exposure in the course of their work.
Announced Boards and Commissions will cancel any scheduled in-person meetings, and instead use video teleconference technology. Boards and commissions will provide the public with a link to access the meeting remotely.
​3/12/2020Recommended that all school superintendents in Kentucky cease in-person classes for an extended period of time beginning Monday, March 16.
3/11/2020​Cancelled the Governor's Prayer Breakfast.
​Recommended social distancing for everyone. For a complete list of guidance on social distancing, click here.
Instructed school districts to be prepared to close on short notice, as short as 72 hours.
Advised that all community gatherings should be cancelled or postponed.
Suspended out-of-state travel for state employees.
Encouraged all businesses to allow employees to work from home if at all possible. If not possible, people should spread out in meeting and work spaces by increasing distance between seats.
3/10/2020Limited visits to long-term care facilities and nursing homes, except in an end-of-life situation.
​Signed an executive order that allows pharmacists to refill prescriptions for up to 30 days.
Closed all state prisons to visitors.
​Issued an executive order to waive copays, deductibles, cost-sharing and diagnostic testing fees for private insurance and state employees. The Governor is also telling providers to expand their network to patients that may go outside their normal providers.

​Shared a when-to-seek-care infographic.
​Called all 120 county judge-executives to update them and discuss the emergency management network.
Initiated changes to Medicaid, including eliminating prior authorization and any type of fees associated with testing or treatment for the coronavirus.
​3/7/2020​Activated the State Health Operations Center.
​Announced Kentucky's COVID-19 hotline, 1-800-722-5725.
​Announced Kentucky's COVID-19 informational website,
​Issued an executive order to prohibit price gouging. Asked Attorney General Daniel Cameron to enforce the price-gouging laws. If anyone has information regarding possible price gouging, they should contact the Attorney General's Consumer Protection hotline at 1-888-432-9257.
Adjusted state government sick leave policy to ensure state employees who are sick can stay home – even for new employees who have not accrued leave time.
Encouraged businesses to implement sick leave policy so sick employees, do not come to work and expose others because of financial concerns.
​Published the CDC guidelines with warnings for high-risk individuals. Those include:
  • Individuals over 60, do not go places where there are large crowds
  • Individuals that have heart, lung, or kidney disease, or have compromised immune systems, do not go to places where there are large crowds
  • For both of these vulnerable populations, do not fly, and whatever you do, do not get on a cruise ship.
​Recommended social distancing for those with high-risk. For a complete list of guidance on social distancing, click here.
​3/6/2020​Declared a State of Emergency.
​Activated the Emergency Management Operations Center.
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