Playing off of his Healthy at Home initiative to keep Kentuckians safe during the coronavirus pandemic, Gov. Andy Beshear has launched a similarly named Healthy at Work program to safely reopen the state economy.
The governor announced the new initiative during his coronavirus press briefing on Tuesday.
The Healthy at Work plan has two phases. Phase 1 determines if the state is ready to reopen at all. And Phase 2 examines whether an individual business is ready to reopen.
For Phase 1, the Kentucky Department for Public Health will evaluate the following benchmarks to approve the reopening of the state:
- 14 days of decreasing coronavirus cases
- Increased testing capacity on 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
If those have been met, the state will move on to Phase 2, which asks individual businesses to apply to be evaluated by the Kentucky Department for Public Health to see if they are ready to reopen safely.
According to the Healthy at Work website, "Businesses closed due to COVID-19 may begin submitting reopen proposals via the online reopen application. The Department for Public Health will evaluate these proposals based on White House guidelines and other government benchmarks. This step will ensure that each business seeking to reopen is able to comply with public health protocols and CDC guidelines."
“Our new normal is not going to be the old normal,” Beshear said. “Every plan has to be really different from what regular operations looked like before.”
He said businesses' plans should include things like how they will handle social distancing, continue telework, manage temperature and symptom checks, do testing and contact tracing to supplement the state's ability, implement sanitation, close common areas, limit travel and institute accommodations for at-risk populations.
Beshear's chief of staff and general counsel, La Tasha Buckner, also spoke about Healthy at Work during the press briefing.
“This is going to be a dialogue with your business, your trade associations, employee groups,” she said. “We’re all going to be working on this. We want to make sure we’re doing this the best way and not the quickest way.”
She also mentioned businesses would need to figure out how to report their positives, make plans for sick leave or quarantining employees, masking employees and that front-facing businesses should also provide masks for customers.
“Doing this right isn't just about safety — though that's our number one concern," Beshear said. "It's also the right thing for the economy. Avoiding a second spike will restore our economy faster."