During his Monday afternoon news conference, Governor Andy Beshear said he’ll send a request to legislators to appropriate $400 million in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds for essential workers. Beshear called it a reward but pointed out that frontline and essential workers earned the money through their duty to their communities. He plans to send a framework to lawmakers within the next seven to 10 days.
Beshear did not say who would be eligible, suggesting legislators should consider firefighters, emergency medical services (EMS) personnel, police, and manufacturing employees of essential businesses. “This is the grocery store worker who has been stocking the shelves from March 6, 2020, all the way through when these dollars will be available in about 2022. It is all of these health care heroes that we are seeing that have been sticking it out, that have been staying in these hospitals working hard, that we can look them in the eye and say, ‘You deserve some of these ARPA dollars. Stick it out. Don’t go with that traveling agency. Make sure that you stay the course and help those in your community, and there will be a reward at the end.’”
The governor plans to ask lawmakers to form a working group to determine who should receive the bonuses.
Total COVID-19 cases continue to decline in Kentucky. Beshear reported 1,239 new cases on Monday and 26 newly reported deaths. The positivity rate is now 9.31%, a significant drop from the last two weeks.
Beshear also said hospitalizations are down 15%. While fewer people are hospitalized, those in intensive care units and using ventilators remained high. Sixty-two (62) of 96 Kentucky hospitals reported critical staffing shortages.