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In Daily COVID Update, Beshear Addresses Evictions, Sports

373 newly confirmed cases of COVID-19 were reported in Kentucky by Governor Andy Beshear on Monday, bringing the state's total to 43,899 since the pandemic began. The Northern Kentucky Health Department reported 19 new cases in the four-county region, bringing NKY's total to 3,589.

Across the state, sixty-eight of the newly reported cases were from children ages 18 and younger, of which 14 were children ages 5 and under. The youngest was 7 months old.

“Let’s start where we need to start – by remembering that we’re going to get through this and we’re going to get through it together,” Beshear said. “We need to make sure we’re not at a point in time, kind of like right at the beginning of the summer, where we let our guard down and we just get tired of doing what it takes, we want to go back to our normal life and this virus ultimately spikes.”

“The normal beginning of a school year has us all feeling the same things: We want to get over this, we want to get our kids out of the house. And I, at least, am seeing a change that goes beyond the ‘When to return to school?’ debate,” said Beshear. “We’re seeing more people trying to get out of quarantine when the health department has recommended it. Those feelings are natural but they’re harmful. This is a war. Whether we win or lose depends on the number of battles that we win. Let’s pick it up because lives depend on it.”

Four deaths were reported on Monday bringing the state's total to 885.

As of Monday, there have been at least 822,904 coronavirus tests performed in Kentucky. The positivity rate currently stands at 4.77%. At least 9,544 Kentuckians have recovered from the virus.

The governor also offered additional information on evictions and high school sports on Monday.

Beshear issued a new executive order that he said would provide protections and clarity on the issues surrounding evictions during the coronavirus pandemic.

Evictions had been suspended in the early days of the pandemic. The new executive order, Beshear said, protects tenants and provides relief for eligible landlords.

“As this battle has taken many months, we now face three major concerns: one, wanting to make sure that people aren’t out on the street; two, wanting to make sure that these landlords aren’t bankrupted or aren’t being treated unfairly; and three, making sure that as people come out of this that they don’t have so much debt from their housing situation that they can’t ever dig out,” Beshear said. “We want a fair system that tries to address all three of these.”

Under the new order, landlords must give tenants a 30-day notice of an intent to evict for nonpayment of rent. During that time, the landlord and tenant must meet and confer on a possible agreement. In addition, no penalties, late fees or interest can be charged related to nonpayment of rent from March 6 through the end of the year.

At the same time, Beshear said his administration is dedicating $15 million of federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act money to create a Healthy at Home Eviction Relief Fund.

The fund will reimburse eligible landlords for missed rent payments and pay some advance rent to keep tenants in their homes. Kentuckians will be able to submit applications Sept. 9. More information about eligibility and how to apply will be forthcoming.

“Kentuckians cannot be Healthy at Home without a home,” said Gov. Beshear. “We want to help get people in a place where they’re not only still in their homes, but they’re not going to owe five or six months of rent when they come out of this.”

Beshear also said that fall sports at the high school level could resume, though it comes with a heavy burden of responsibility from school and athletic officials entrusted with keeping student-athletes and others safe.

Last week, the Kentucky High School Athletic Association (KHSAA) voted 16-2 to allow practices to begin today for the fall sports of cross county, field hockey, football, soccer and volleyball. Regular season games will begin Sept. 7, with football starting Sept. 11.

“Let me start by saying we’re not going to overturn that decision, and it’s not because I think it’s a good decision or a wise decision,” Beshear said. “But if we’re going to defeat this virus, we need people other than me all over Kentucky taking responsibility to make good and wise decisions.”

“We’ve hit a new plateau, but if we take off from this level, it gets out of control much more quickly,” said Dr. Steven Stack, commissioner of the Department of Public Health. “I hope that in Kentucky we can be more successful with youth sports than other places, but the outlook is not good. There’s a lot we don’t know about this disease. We don’t know some of the more silent but really serious harms that this disease causes.”

-Staff report