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Kentucky Begins Easing Healthcare Restrictions Monday, With Guarded Optimism

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Josh James
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WUKY

Portions of Kentucky's healthcare sector are being given the green light to reopen Monday after going dark amid the still-developing COVID-19 outbreak. The tentative first step toward unwinding restrictions comes as the state tries to balance "competing societal needs."

Starting tomorrow, healthcare and medical clinics, physical therapy providers, chiropractors, optometrists, and some dental offices will be allowed to offer services - provided they meet a series of new safety precautions ranging from the use of masks to the elimination of traditional waiting areas.

"From a public health standpoint... we would probably prefer to wait even longer before lifting any restrictions," said Public Health Commissioner Dr. Steven Stack. "But we're trying to balance competing societal needs - people's need to get back to work, people's need to perform other important functions in society, people's need to pursue their lives - with the need to also keep people safe."

The Phase I reopening in healthcare does not include elective surgeries or invasive procedures, which will restart at a later date.

Monday afternoon the governor is expected to deliver further plans for how the state intends to gradually reopen other businesses, though he added Sunday that precautions such as masks, temperature checks, and social distancing won't be guidelines but "requirements."

Also expected this week is another round of scaled up testing in Lexington, Louisville, Bowling Green, Cadiz, Hazard, Hopkinsville, Mt. Vernon, Murray, and Owensboro.

"We've got the chance to not quite double the number of people that have been tested, but do a significant amount," the governor reported.

Queues have filled up more rapidly at the newly-announced testing sites, including in Lexington, but sign-ups for the following week will start on Wednesday. (See below for more testing info)

Sunday, the state announced 202 new cases of COVID-19 and 3 new deaths. And although Kentucky hasn't seen a sustained decline yet, the governor concluded his daily briefing by noting the trends give him hope.

"We are at a far better place today than anything, any model, any expectations that I was ever given," Beshear said.

Still, Sunday's report did put Kentucky over 4,000 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus, a number expected to rise as the state ramps up testing.

Drive-Thru Testing in Lexington

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Walgreens (2296 Executive Drive)

  • Starting April 24: 7 days a week, 9 am - 5 pm
  • Sign up portal
  • Testing at this site is only open to healthcare workers and first responders with or without symptoms, and others with symptoms over 18.

Bluegrass Community & Technical College (Kroger/State Partnership)

  • Starting April 27: Mon - Fri, 8:30 am - 5:30 pm
  • Sign up portal
  • Open to the general public
  • (Note: Slots are full for the first week, but sign-ups will start for the next week on Wednesday.)
Josh James fell in love with college radio at Western Kentucky University's student station, New Rock 92 (now Revolution 91.7). After working as a DJ and program director, he knew he wanted to come home to Lexington and try his hand in public radio.
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