Beshear Updates Mayors on COVID, ARPA, and Infrastructure

Governor Andy Beshear held a conference call Wednesday to update Kentucky mayors on items from COVID-19 to American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding and the recently signed Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA).

Those currently eligible must be 65 or older, have pre-existing health conditions, or work in a public job. Beshear said an argument could be made for everyone to fall under those guidelines, and he indicated that he expects state and federal guidance to change. He stressed that increasing the number of people vaccinated, including a booster shot, is a priority as Thanksgiving and Christmas are quickly approaching.

Wednesday afternoon, Beshear filed an executive order declaring any adult living or working in Kentucky eligible to get a COVID-19 booster shot six months after their first dose of Moderna or Pfizer vaccines, or two months after receiving the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

The governor called on mayors to target the 11% of Kentuckians above age 75 yet to receive the first shot. Additionally, Beshear called those under age 24 a “great demographic” to focus on since less than 50% are vaccinated. He reported that the number of vaccinated 5- to 11-year-olds increased to more than 18,000. Beshear also encouraged schools to continue universal masking.

Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC) Secretary Jim Gray provided a water and broadband update. He said that communities have applied for $704 million in water and wastewater projects funded with the state’s ARPA money. The General Assembly allocated $250 million in ARPA funds for those projects. He reminded leaders of a November 19 application deadline.

The state is currently reviewing applications for $50 million in broadband projects, also funded by Kentucky’s ARPA allocation.

Beshear and Gray said the state has yet to receive federal requirements for the use of IIJA funding. President Biden signed the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill into law on Monday. Gray believes the plan will include potential funding for megaprojects such as the Brent Spence Bridge and the Interstate 69 bridge