Kentucky – Coronavirus State Actions

Governors are working closely with federal and local officials as well as private sector partners to address the threat of the novel coronavirus. This page lists select actions through 31 July 2020. It is not intended to be exhaustive but is meant to highlight key actions and resources that may inform other states and territories as they prepare for and respond to the novel coronavirus. All state actions can be viewed here, or visit Coronavirus: What You Need To Know for additional information and resources.


Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services coronavirus resource page.

  • March 6, 2020—Governor Beshear declared a state of emergency to ensure all state entities have the necessary resources to respond. 
  • March 7, 2020—The Governor issued guidance for high risk populations, as well as state employees on how to protect themselves and others. This includes modification to state sick leave policies. 
  • March 10, 2020—Governor Beshear announced in a press conference that Kentucky nursing homes will be limiting patient visits. Patients receiving end-of-life-care are the only group allowed to receive visitors to help prevent and limit the spread of COVID-19.
  • March 11, 2020—Governor Beshear instructed school districts to be prepared to close schools on short notice, closed all state prisons to visitors, suspended out-of-state travel for state employees, urged more businesses to allow employees to tele-commute and to provide paid sick leave, and asked places of worship to temporarily cancel services. 
  • March 15, 2020 – The Governor asked all Kentucky hospitals to cease providing elective surgery and for daycare facilities to begin planning for closures.
  • March 16, 2020 – The Governor ordered all bars and restaurant and dining rooms to close. The order will take effect at 5 PM on March 16.
  • March 17, 2020 – The Governor announced the following steps to continue to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic:
    • All childcare centers, with the exception of those providing services to health care workers and some on-site employers, will close by March 20.
    • All public-facing businesses that encourage public congregation or, that by the nature of the service to the public, cannot comply with CDC guidelines concerning social distancing, shall cease all in-person operations. These public-facing businesses that must close include entertainment, hospitality and recreational facilities, community and recreation centers, gyms and exercise facilities, hair salons, nail salons, spas, concert venues, theaters, and sporting event facilities.
    • All acute care facilities should discourage all visitors except for visits in end-of-life circumstances. The Governor also advised psychiatric facilities to restrict visitation, only allowing it if deemed medically necessary by the attending physician, administrator and the medical director.
    • The Governor recommended personal care homes, assisted living, senior care facilities and intermediate care facilities limit visitation only to loved ones that are receiving end-of-life care.
    • The Governor also announced a three-month extension of driver’s licenses and the postponement of primary elections.
  • March 18, 2020 – The Governor announced several new actions to supplement previous guidance for closing public-facing businesses, including the suspension of all charitable gaming licenses and temporary closing of bingo halls.
  • March 18, 2020–The Governor announced that the state is working with federal partners to continue Child Care Assistance Program payments on behalf of qualified families during the mandatory closure period. The state will also be covering copayments typically covered by families.
  • March 19, 2020 – The Governor signed an order allowing restaurants that have food delivery options and a liquor license to deliver sealed alcoholic beverages in their original containers to customers.
  • March 20, 2020 – The Governor announced Kentucky unemployment insurance implements new procedures to manage the influx of claims including new phonelines and video conference services.
  • March 20, 2020 – The Governor requested school superintendents keep schools closed for in-person classes until at least April 20 and delayed the state’s income tax filing deadline until July 15.
  • March 22, 2020 – The Governor ordered all nonessential retailers to close within 24 hours and that he is mandating all elective medical procedures to end.
  • March 23, 2020 – The Governor announced the new following actions:
    • 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.
    • Establish the Team Kentucky Fund, a fundraising platform designed to provide financial assistance to Kentuckians whose employment has been affected by COVID-19
  • March 24, 2020 – The Governor ordered all non-life sustaining business to close in-person service.
  • March 24, 2020 – The Governor announced that state workers would begin helping at food banks.
  • March 24, 2020 – The Governor announced many businesses, including food and beverage industries, are making barrels of hand sanitizers for hospitals and first responders.
  • March 25, 2020- The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) approved Kentucky’s request for a Section 1135 Medicaid waiver. The approved waiver enables Kentucky to provide flexibilities in Medicaid provider screening and enrollment, forgo certain pre-admission screening and annual resident review assessments, lift prior authorization requirements, allow for reimbursement facility services in alternative settings, and extend fair hearing and appeals timelines.
  • March 25, 2020 — The Governor signed legislation waiving in-person school attendance requirements and giving school districts permission to engage in nontraditional/remote learning.
  • March 26, 2020 — The Governor 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.
  • March 27, 2020 – The Governor urged residents to avoid crossing into Tennessee to limit their exposure to COVID-19.
  • March 30, 2020 – The Governor signed an executive order limiting out of state travel for residents of Kentucky, except when required for employment, to obtain medicine or groceries, to seek or obtain care by a healthcare provider, to provide care to dependents or when mandated by court order.
  • April 1, 2020 – The Governor stated that the National Guard would be assisting to help feed seniors and displaced workers.
  • April 2, 2020 – The Governor announced the following:
    • Recommendation for school districts to extend their suspension of in-person instruction to at least May 1;
    • Plans to commute the sentences of hundreds of non-violent offenders;
    • All state parks would be closed for overnight stays; and
    • Move plans forward to convert state fairgrounds in Louisville into a 2,000 hospital makeshift bed.
  • April 3, 2020 – The Governor announced the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) approved Kentucky’s request to recover Medicaid federal match rates and provide federal funds for a payment benefiting over 50 rural hospitals.
  • April 3, 2020 – The Governor announced a new initiative aimed at making it easier for people to donate personal protective equipment (PPE).
  • April 6, 2020 – The Governor issued a call to action for any person, organization or business that can donate more personal protective equipment (PPE) for frontline workers.
  • April 6, 2020 – The Governor announced that he would allow first responders and front-line health care workers to quarantine in cabins at state parks in five locations across the commonwealth, which would allow them to quarantine away from their families and other loved ones if necessary.
  • April 8, 2020 – The Governor announced Kentucky received the federal funding stream to begin making the additional $600 per week payment to those Kentuckians receiving unemployment insurance benefits.
  • April 8, 2020 – The Governor extended a previous executive order that allows pharmacists to dispense emergency refills for up to another 30-day supply of non-scheduled medications to Kentucky residents.
  • April 11, 2020 – The Governor announced that all individuals who attend an in-person worship service or mass gathering of any kind Easter Weekend will face quarantine orders.
  • April 13, 2020 – The Governor announced that the United Postal Service (UPS) donated 16,000 N95 masks.
  • April 14, 2020 – The Governor announced that the Honorable Order of Kentucky Colonels made $1 million gift to the Team Kentucky Fund.
  • April 16, 2020 — The Governor has joined a partnership with 6 other states in the region (Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Illinois, and Indiana) to develop a plan for reopening the region economy.
  • April 16, 2020 – The Governor announced an expansion of the state’s partnership with Kroger to provide drive-through testing for the coronavirus.
  • April 18, 2020 – The Governor announced seven benchmarks that must be met in order to start reopening the state’s economy. They include:
    • 14 days where cases are decreasing
    • Increased testing capacity and contact tracing
    • Personal protective equipment (PPE) availability
    • Ability to protect at-risk populations
    • Ability to social distance and follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines on large gatherings
    • Preparedness for a possible future spike
    • Status of vaccine and treatment
  • April 18, 2020 – The Governor announced the creation of a new Long-Term Care Task Force that will assist the Kentuckians most vulnerable to COVID-19 and the healthcare workers who serve them.
  • April 20, 2020 – The Governor advised the commonwealth’s education leaders to keep facilities closed to in-person instruction for the rest of the school year.
  • April 22, 2020 – The Governor announced the launch of “Healthy at Work,” a new initiative to help Kentucky businesses reopen safely. Healthy at Work offers a phased approach to reopening Kentucky’s economy, based on criteria set by public health experts and advice from industry experts.
  • April 22, 2020 – The Governor announced that the phased restart of Kentucky’s economy will begin on Monday, April 27th, with a segment of the health care services industry. Initially, the easing of restrictions will allow for diagnostic and radiology testing, as well as non-urgent, emergent, in-person office and ambulatory visits.
  • April 23, 2020 – The Governor announced that on April 27, the state will begin the gradual restart and reopening of the Phase 1 health care services and facilities, although they will operate differently than prior to the outbreak of COVID-19.
  • April 24, 2020 – The Governor announced that Kentucky has received more than $450,000 in funding to provide novel coronavirus (COVID-19) prevention, preparedness and response assistance to non-profit arts organizations.
  • April 24, 2020 – The Governor and Secretary of State Michael Adams have reached an agreement on how the state’s primary elections, special elections and local option elections scheduled for June 23, 2020.
    • The Governor signed an executive order on the issue outlining:
      • The expansion and promotion of absentee ballots
      • Prioritizing voting by appointment
      • PPE for clerks and poll workers
  • April 24, 2020 – The Governor announced Kentucky’s local public safety agencies and eligible local governments can apply for part of more than $9 million in grant funding from the U.S. Department of Justice’s (USDOJ) Coronavirus Emergency Supplemental Funding Program (CESF).
  • April 24, 2020 – The Governor announced the expansion of testing sites across the state
  • April 27, 2020 – The Governor announced that by May 11 everybody working for an essential business that is reopening should be wearing a mask.
  • April 27, 2020 – The Governor detailed Phase 1 in reopening of the healthcare industry in the state with practitioners being able to resume non-urgent/emergent health care services, diagnostic radiology and lab services in:
    • Hospital outpatient settings;
    • Health care clinics and medical offices;
    • Physical therapy settings, chiropractic offices and optometrists;
    • Dental offices (but with enhanced aerosol protections)
  • April 27, 2020 – The Governor announced that the state is preparing to hire more than 700 people to help with contact tracing.
  • April 28, 2020 – The Governor shared  new guidelines to help businesses reopen, a new, 10-point plan that aims to guide businesses as they prepare for a gradual reopening while continuing to keep all workers and patrons safe. They include:
    • Continue telework where possible
    • Phased return to work
    • Onsite temperature/health checks
    • Universal masks and other necessary PPE
    • Close common areas
    • Enforce social distancing
    • Limit face-to-face meetings
    • Sanitizer/hand wash stations
    • Special accommodations
    • Testing plan
  • April 29, 2020 – The Governor unveiled a tentative reopening schedule for a variety of businesses allowed to resume operations. The plan would require businesses to adhere to the 10 rules to reopening, along with industry specific requirements. The Governor also identified the following industries that will not be able to reopen yet as restaurants, gyms, movie theaters, campgrounds, youth sports, summer camps, day cares (except for essential health care workers) and public pools
  • May 4, 2020 – The Governor announced the new businesses that would be eligible to reopen operations under Phase 1 starting May 11th, they include:
    • Manufacturing, distribution and supply chain businesses
    • Construction
    • Vehicle or vessel dealerships
    • Office-based businesses (at 50% pre-pandemic capacity)
    • Horse racing (no fans in attendance)
    • Pet care, grooming and boarding
    • Photography
  • May 4, 2020 — Kentucky Department for Public Health (KDPH) Commissioner announced Health Care Phase 2 will begin Wednesday, May 6, 2020, outpatient and ambulatory surgery and invasive procedures may resume.
  • May 4, 2020 – The Governor announced a new partnership with St. Elizabeth Healthcare to bring expanded testing in Northern Kentucky.
  • May 4, 2020 – The Governor announced a partnership with the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce and the Kentucky Distillers’ Association to get personal protective equipment (PPE) and hand sanitizer to small businesses as they prepare to be Healthy at Work.
  • May 6, 2020 – The Governor urged voters to get ready to request absentee ballots and announced help from the Kentucky National Guard. National Guard leaders offered to help and members will work as poll workers and keep polling places operating safely.
  • May 6, 2020 – The Governor announced his administration is changing its travel restrictions to better comply with judicial findings and more closely mirror the guidance of neighboring states. The Governor issued a new executive order that continues to ban anyone with a positive or presumptively positive case of COVID-19 from entering Kentucky, except as ordered for medical treatment. It also keeps in place requirements of social distancing on public transportation.
  • May 6, 2020 – The Kentucky Department for Public Health (KDPH) Commissioner said Health Care Phase 2 is beginning with outpatient and ambulatory surgery and invasive procedures.
  • May 7, 2020 – The Governor announced that the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC) has been awarded nearly $22.9 million for relief of public transit agencies that have been hit hard by the deadly COVID-19 pandemic. The funding will sustain the transit agencies by covering some operational expenses, including administrative leave for employees forced to self-isolate because of exposure to people infected with COVID-19.
  • May 7, 2020 – The Governor announced the second phase of reopening. All businesses should follow the 10 rules of staying healthy at work as well as industry-specific guidance, which will be issued as soon as possible. The new tentative dates for reopening are:
    • May 22 – Restaurants, with limited 33% capacity and outdoor seating
    • June 1 – Movie theaters, fitness centers
    • June 11 – Campgrounds, public and private
    • June 15 – Child care, with reduced capacity; and potentially low-touch and outdoor youth sports
  • May 8, 2020 – The Governor outlined the requirements to begin reopening major segments of the economy and society including houses of worship, manufacturing, construction, government offices and agencies, retail and funeral services.
  • May 8, 2020 – The Kentucky Department for Public Health (KDPH) announced a new long-term care testing strategy, in partnership with Norton Healthcare and local health departments and emergency management leaders. All long-term care facilities will be risk-stratified based on eight key metrics. There will be COVID-19 surveillance testing for residents and staff in all 286 skilled nursing facilities in the Kentucky.
  • May 8, 2020 – The Governor announced new partnerships with First Care Clinics and Bluewater Diagnostics Laboratory that will help Kentuckians get tested for COVID-19 at no cost before they go back to work, even if they do not have health insurance.
  • May 12, 2020 – The Governor issued a scam alert today warning Kentuckians of utility-related scams coming up in the midst of the novel coronavirus pandemic.
  • May 14, 2020 – The Governor announced that the Kentucky Education and Workforce Development Cabinet (KEWDC) has been awarded more than $43.7 million from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act for education programs that have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • May 18, 2020 – The Governor announced the appointment of an executive advisor leading the contact tracing efforts in the Office of the Secretary of the Cabinet for Health and Family Services (CHFS).
  • May 20, 2020 – The Governor announced a $300 million award to city and county governments as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which established the Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF) to reimburse local governments for expenses incurred in response to the public health emergency caused by the novel coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19).
  • May 21, 2020 – Cabinet for Health and Family Services (CHFS) Secretary announced that in-home child care programs can open on June 8. Center-based licensed child care programs can reopen to all families on June 15.
  • May 21, 2020 – The Governor announced auctions could be held starting June 1. Horse shows can be held again starting on June 8. Bars, gatherings with 50 people or fewer, and venues that hold 50 people or fewer can reopen June 29 if they meet guidelines.
  • May 21, 2020 – The Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services (CHFS) Department for Community Based Services (DCBS) and the Kentucky Department of Education are partnering to provide food assistance to families who have lost access to free or reduced-price school meals during the COVID-19 public health emergency.
  • May 26, 2020 – The Governor encouraged all voters to use a new Absentee Ballot Application Portal now available online.
  • May 27, 2020 – The Governor announced that he is reorganizing the Executive Branch Ethics Commission in order to strengthen its mission.
  • May 28, 2020 – The Governor with the Department of Local Governments announced more than $5 million in grants to six local governments for water and sewer projects across Kentucky.
  • May 29, 2020 – The Governor announced an official order temporarily authorizing circuit court clerk offices to process expired driving credential renewals and replacement requests remotely.
  • May 29, 2020 – The Governor and Cabinet for Health and Family Services Secretary announced the Commonwealth of Kentucky has awarded the state’s Medicaid Managed Care Organization (MCO) contract to five health care companies that will manage benefits for the state’s Medicaid enrollees.
  • June 3, 2020 – The Governor announced that due to COVID-19 that he has reached an agreement with legislative leaders to avoid the need for the General Assembly to return in a special session to resolve budget matters.
  • June 15, 2020 – The Governor’s Executive Cabinet announced that the Department of Corrections is currently mass testing all inmates and staff at the Kentucky Correctional Institute for Women (KCIW) in Shelby County. The decision comes after three staffers and 11 inmates tested positive for COVID-19. More than 270 of the facility’s 639 inmates have been tested thus far.
  • June 17, 2020 – The Governor directed his administration to provide personal protective equipment (PPE) to keep voters and poll workers safe during Kentucky’s primaries. The Governor’s office is providing 5,000 masks, 4,000 gallons of hand sanitizer, 5,800 face shields and 20,000 gloves for the June 23 election. The PPE will be distributed to all 120 counties.
  • June 17, 2020 – The Governor announced his intention to move Kentucky back to the healthcare exchange.
  • June 22, 2020 – The Governor announced new guidance for venues like restaurants and bars and other venues that would have gatherings of 50 people or fewer.
  • June 22, 2020 – The Governor announced that the national guard will have plain clothes individuals assisting with polling places on election day.
  • June 23, 2020 – The Governor announced $383 million in state and federal dollars for 54 rural hospitals by settling a 13-year-old dispute regarding Medicaid funding rates.
  • June 24, 2020 – The Governor and the Commissioner for the state department of education released initial guidance on school reopening.
  • July 7, 2020 – The Governor extended his executive order prohibiting price gouging. 
  • July 13, 2020 – The Governor announced 15 local governments in western Kentucky have applied for and been granted $3.66 million in reimbursements from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act for local governments with expenses related to COVID-19. Sixteen others have received preliminary approval, meaning they will receive reimbursements once final documentation is submitted.
  • July 9, 2020 – The Governor announced a mandate ordering residents to wear a mask when in public or certain group situations. The executive order will go into effect at 5 p.m. Friday evening and will last for at least 30 days. Places where masks will be required include retail stores, grocery stores and in any situation – indoors or outdoors – where you cannot be 6 feet away from those around you, the governor said.
  • July 16, 2020 – The Governor announced 22 eastern Kentucky governments have applied for and been granted $5,523,949 in reimbursements from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act for local governments with expenses related to COVID-19.
  • July 17, 2020 – The Governor announced that the Kentucky Supreme Court has kept in place all executive orders related to the fight against COVID-19, including the mask order, until the court can hear full arguments from the Beshear administration and the attorney general’s office and issue a final ruling.
  • July 27, 2020 – The Governor announced the following provisions from a new order from the Cabinet for Health and Family Services:
    • Bars will be closed for two weeks, effective tomorrow, Tuesday, July 28.
    • Restaurants will be limited to 25% of pre-pandemic capacity indoors; outdoor accommodations remain limited only by the ability to provide proper social distancing.
    • Public and private schools are being asked to avoid offering in-person instruction until the third week of August.
  • July 27, 2020 – The Governor announced that the General Fund revenues ended up $104.6 million above the budgeted estimate, at a total of nearly $12 billion. The General Fund surplus will be $177.5 million.
  • July 29, 2020 – The Governor announced new order from the Cabinet for Health and Family Services: bars are closed and restaurants are limited to 25% of pre-pandemic capacity indoors. The Governor and the Kentucky Department for Public Health will monitor case numbers over the next two weeks with the goal of reopening bars and restoring restaurant capacity after that time.