Last week, Governor Andy Beshear announced his “Healthy at Work” initiative to reopen Kentucky’s economy during the COVID-19 pandemic. Healthy at Work is a phased approach based on criteria set by public health experts and on advice from industry experts. Governor Beshear announced the reopening in phases to ensure the Commonwealth’s citizens can safely return to work while still protecting the most vulnerable Kentuckians. Phase 1 is a state-readiness evaluation. Phase 2 is business-readiness evaluation.
Healthy at Work – Phase 1.
Phase 1 consists of meeting benchmarks based on the White House Guidelines for Reopening America. No reopening will occur until Kentucky has met these benchmarks. The benchmarks the Governor will use to measure whether to reopen are:
- 14 days of decreasing cases
- Increased testing capacity and contact tracing
- Personal protective equipment (PPE) availability
- Ability to protect at-risk populations
- Ability to social distance and follow the CDC’s guidelines on large gatherings
- Preparedness for possible future spike
- Status of vaccine and treatment
The Governor has stated that Phase 2 will not begin until the Phase 1 benchmarks are met. It is important to remember that Life Sustaining Businesses were never required to close, and may remain open subject to implementing the guidance in Executive Order 2020-257, issued on March 25, 2020.
Healthy at Work – Phase 2.
Once these benchmarks have been met, Phase 2 will begin. In Phase 2, the Governor will evaluate economic sectors and individual businesses’ ability to safely reopen and gradually begin authorizing certain business sectors to reopen while still maintaining appropriate health and safety measures.
To assist the Governor in this Phase, closed businesses and trade associations are encouraged to submit reopen proposals discussing possible strategies to reopen. If your business is currently closed, you may submit a proposal through your trade association or for your individual business. If your trade association submits a proposal, there is no need to submit an individual proposal. The Governor’s plan is to reopen businesses based on sector—not individual businesses. However, he and his administration will rely on the proposals in making those decisions.
In the proposals, it is anticipated that all businesses will need to have models that permit compliance with CDC guidelines on how best to stop the spread of COVID-19. This will include ensuring proper social distancing and access to personal protective equipment and disinfectant. However, more industry-specific guidance will be crafted as Kentucky gets closer to reaching the benchmarks and as input comes in from businesses through their proposals.
Businessesses that are currently open or which never closed do not need to submit proposals to remain open, but must comply with new standards as set for their industries. These include the Centers for Disease Control’s social distancing guidelines.
To submit a reopen proposal and for additional information, please visit Kentucky’s Healthy at Work website.
Healthy at Work – Healthcare Sector Reopening on April 27.
On April 23, Governor Beshear announced the gradual reopening of the first economic sector—healthcare—to begin on April 27 under specific guidance. Healthcare entities may not resume non-urgent/emergent healthcare services in the following settings:
- Hospital outpatient settings;
- Healthcare clinics;
- Medical offices;
- Physical therapy settings;
- Chiropractic offices;
- Optometrists; and
- Dental offices (but with enhanced aerosol protections).
Currently, the following guidance is required of these facilities:
- Maximize telehealth rather than in-person services;
- Prohibit visitors allowed except when necessary for end-of-life, vulnerable populations, minors, etc. and then only to minimum essential extent;
- Eliminate traditional waiting / common seating areas and use non-traditional alternatives (e.g., parking lot lobby);
- Maintain social distancing greater than 6 feet in all settings where people must wait and employ other steps to minimize direct contact between individuals within the healthcare setting;
- Screen all healthcare workers, patients, and others for temperature and COVID-19 symptoms upon arrival for shift or visit. Require staff to stay home if sick;
- Plan for and ensure enhanced workplace sanitizing;
- Plan for and ensure enhanced hand hygiene (washing & sanitizing) compliance;
- Provide easily accessible hand sanitizer throughout the office / building;
- Procure necessary PPE via normal supply chains;
- All healthcare providers and staff must wear surgical / procedural masks while in healthcare office/facility;
- All patients and other persons in healthcare office/facility must wear a surgical/procedural mask while in an acute care hospital or ambulatory surgical center; and
- Patients in all other healthcare settings may wear either a surgical/procedural mask or cloth mask/face covering.
For more information on the reopening of the healthcare sector in Kentucky, please visit https://govstatus.egov.com/ky-healthy-at-work-reopening-healthcare-services.
 Long-term care settings, prisons, and other industries are subject to separate guidance.