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Monday, August 31, 2020

New Child Care and Labor Day Guidelines Announced

By Jessie Eden

In his daily Covid-19 press conference, Governor Andy Beshear shared the latest Covid-19 numbers as well as providing new information on child care and Labor Day guidelines.

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Child Care Guidelines

Eric Friedlander, Secretary of the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services, spoke Monday about changes to the emergency regulations relating to child care, which aim to balance the safety and health of our children, caregivers and the public.

“We also recognize our children’s need to learn and socialize and the essential role of child care for working parents. It is good that everyone is now recognizing the importance of child care,” Secretary Friedlander said. “It has been a difficult time for child-care providers. CARES Act funding has resulted in over $67 million going to Kentucky child-care providers.”

In unveiling “Journey to a New Kentucky: Changes to Child-Care Facilities Guidance,” Secretary Friedlander said the department was offering a plan to address increasing capacity and the pre-existing shortages of registered and certified providers, while continuing to enforce child care standards.

Among the provisions in the new guidance:

- Help for parents to meet needs of nontraditional instruction (NTI) days by aiding background checks on providers and ensuring staffers are: masked; using proper hygiene; enforcing health checks and small groups; and have a plan is in place for when someone tests positive for COVID-19.

- Expanding the maximum number of allowed children to 15 for licensed child-care facilities.
- Certified homes, licensed infant and 1-year-old classrooms may return to typical group sizes.

- $2,500 startup incentive bonus through the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act to encourage new providers.

Labor Day Guidelines

Governor Beshear also stated that in preparation of Labor Day, the White House has released guidelines indicating that gatherings should be 10 people or less.

Covid-19 Report At-a-Glance

 381 (Total Cases: 48,396) 
*Note: There are lower numbers on Mondays due to lab hours over the weekend*

>YELLOW ZONE Counties Per White House:
Kenton, Boone


- Total Tests Completed in KY: 877,443
- Hospitalized currently: 557
- In ICU currently: 144
- Recovered Patients: 10,375
- Ever Hospitalized: 4,580
- Ever in ICU: 1,385

 3 (Total Deaths: 933)
- No deaths reported in NKY.

- Campbell County: 9 (Total: 701)
- Kenton County: 6 (Total: 1,716)
- Boone County: 6 (Total: 1,296)

- 43 (11%) of those cases are kids under 18

- active cases 159 students / 61 faculty or staff out of 170 schools

- active cases 582 students / 16 faculty or staff out of 29 schools

Read the full press release below for more information:

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Gov. Beshear Provides Update on COVID-19

Visit the Governor’s Facebook page to watch today’s news conference

FRANKFORT, Ky. (Aug. 31, 2020) – Gov. Andy Beshear on Monday updated Kentuckians on the state’s continuing efforts to fight the novel coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) in the commonwealth.

“I’m a big believer that our world can be much better than it is right now,” the Governor said. “That’s why I do this. I think my kids deserve a better Kentucky and a better world than they’re growing up in. We have an opportunity based on coming together to defeat the crisis of the moment, to build a better Kentucky that has fewer crises now and in the future.”

Overdose Awareness DayToday, Gov. Beshear recognized International Overdose Awareness Day, a global event held on Aug. 31 each year to bring awareness to the overdose epidemic, reduce the stigma of drug-related deaths and acknowledge the grief of family and friends left behind.

“Awareness is the key to survival during most medical emergencies; and that’s certainly true in the case of a drug overdose,” the Governor said. “If you find a loved one has overdosed, or even a complete stranger, knowing how to react could mean the difference between life and death.”

Those needing access to naloxone or more resources on how to respond to an overdose can find more information on the Kentucky Office of Drug Control Policy’s webpage.

The Governor also spoke about one overdose victim and his family’s struggle in the aftermath of his untimely death.

“As Attorney General I filed more lawsuits against opioid distributors and manufacturers than anyone else in the country. My friend Emily, who leads Fed Up in Kentucky, lost her son TJ right before he was going to deploy with our National Guard,” the Governor said. “There’s so much pain out there, and somebody may make a bad decision at the start, but by the time an overdose happens typically someone has been suffering from an addiction that we cannot treat as a bad decision. We have to treat it as the disease that it is, knowing that it is preventable, knowing that all of us can step in to either try to help an individual suffering from it, or hopefully be there with the training necessary to protect them in that worst case scenario.”

Gov. Beshear said he promised Emily he would continue to seek to provide resources to help people overcome addictions while also holding unscrupulous drug companies responsible.

Gov. Beshear noted that public health officials say that since the start of the pandemic in the U.S., they are seeing the largest number of overdose deaths since 2017.

Kentuckians struggling with substance use disorders, either themselves or within their families, can call 833-8KY-HELP (833-859-4357) to speak with a specialist about treatment options and available resources.

A live specialist will help locate everything from medication-assisted treatment to faith-based care, and walk through all the variables, such as location and cost. Callers can speak to a specialist from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. (EDT), Monday through Friday. During non-business hours, callers may leave a message and the call center staff will get back in touch with them.

Gov. Beshear said the Governor’s Mansion will be lit up with purple lights this evening to honor the lives lost to overdose deaths.

‘The Fast 4 at 4’Gov. Beshear on Monday highlighted a variety of issues of importance to Kentuckians and the commonwealth.

Today, the Governor reminded voters they now can go to to request an absentee ballot for the Nov. 3 general election, if they are concerned about COVID-19 and voting. “Make sure your vote is counted,” Gov. Beshear said. “This is how you have a voice for this country, for this commonwealth, for your county, for your community.” Gov. Beshear encouraged all Kentuckians to make a plan to vote, either by mail, in person during early voting or in person on Election Day.
Gov. Beshear also reminded Kentuckians that the state issued a travel advisory in July that recommends people avoid visiting states with coronavirus case positivity rates of 15% or higher. Among the states currently exceeding that threshold, according to data from Johns Hopkins, are South Carolina, North Dakota, Iowa, Alabama and Nevada. Anyone returning to Kentucky after visiting these places is asked to self-quarantine for 14 days.

Gov. Beshear asked Kentuckians to take advantage of the free COVID-19 testing available at sites throughout the commonwealth. “While much of the country has fallen behind on testing, we have stayed ahead,” the Governor said. “We need your help to continue to do that. The resources are out there to make sure that you are safe and to make sure you’re keeping others safe.” For information on more than 200 testing sites, click here.

Jim Gray, Secretary of the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC), on Monday announced funding for access roads to spur development at industrial parks in Warren, Barren and Fulton counties.

“The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet is proud to be part of Team Kentucky and to have a role in preparing the ground for new, job-creating industrial sites,” Secretary Gray said.

The projects are:

- In Warren County, KYTC is committing $500,000 from its Industrial Access Road program for a project by the Bowling Green Chamber of Commerce to extend Prosperity Drive in the Kentucky Transpark. The extended roadway will serve a new manufacturing plant being built by Crown Cork & Seal USA and open 296 additional, rail-served acres for development within the Transpark. Gov. Beshear helped to break ground for the Crown plant in February. The plant will make aluminum beverage cans.

- In Barren County, KYTC is committing $500,000 from the Industrial Access Road program to assist the Barren County Economic Authority in developing South Cooper Industrial Park along U.S. 68 in Glasgow.

- In Fulton County, KYTC has agreed to provide up to $146,500 to Fulton County Fiscal Court toward design and construction of a boulevard entrance to a new industrial park that is a joint venture of Fulton and Hickman counties. The site, which is in the City of Fulton, is contiguous to rail lines and less than a mile from the Interstate 69 corridor. It will be able to accommodate as many as seven small manufacturers or distribution companies, potentially providing hundreds of jobs.

For more information and to view the complete news release, click here.

Case Information – Monday, Aug. 31As of 4 p.m. Aug. 31, Gov. Beshear said there were at least 48,396 coronavirus cases in Kentucky, 381 of which were newly reported Monday. Forty-three of the newly reported cases were from children ages 18 and younger, of which two were children ages 5 and under. The youngest was a 1-year-old from Madison County.

“We always have lower numbers on Sundays and Mondays, due to lab closures over the weekend. But the White House report for this week still has 59 of our 120 counties in the red or yellow zone,” said Gov. Beshear. “We don’t want any of our counties in either. Let’s remember how serious this is and not act like everything is normal.”

Unfortunately, Gov. Beshear reported three new deaths Monday, raising the total to 933 Kentuckians lost to the virus.

The deaths reported Monday include a 61-year-old man from Lincoln County; a 72-year-old woman from Martin County; and a 65-year-old man from Owen County.

“When we make bad decisions, most often somebody else pays for it, and can pay for it with their lives,” said Gov. Beshear.

As of Monday, there have been at least 877,443 coronavirus tests performed in Kentucky. The positivity rate currently stands at 4.42%. At least 10,375 Kentuckians have recovered from the virus.

For additional information, including up-to-date lists of positive cases and deaths, as well as breakdowns of coronavirus infections by county, race and ethnicity, click here. To see all recent daily reports, click here.

Information about COVID-19 and schools is also being made available. To view the reports, click here for K-12 and here for colleges and universities.

Case Information – Sunday, Aug. 30Due to limited reporting on the weekends, some updated information is now available from Sunday, Aug. 30.

As of Sunday, there were 874,597 coronavirus tests performed in Kentucky. The positivity rate was at 4.54% and at least 10,355 Kentuckians had recovered from the virus.

For a detailed look at coronavirus case information from Sunday, Aug. 30, click here.

Kentucky Enhanced VINEToday, Gov. Beshear, who formerly served as Kentucky’s attorney general, announced more than $500,000 in grant funding will build an expansion of services for crime victims in the commonwealth.

“We must continue to create more victim-centered services to help our fellow Kentuckians move forward after their darkest days,” said Gov. Beshear. “This system is another step in the right direction in creating more services focused on victims and survivors and connecting them with the support and information they deserve.”

He said the Justice and Public Safety Cabinet has awarded the Kentucky Department of Corrections $551,000 in federal Victims of Crime Act grant funding for significant enhancements to be made to the Victism Information and Notification Everyday (VINE) system, the state’s victim notification program.

“VINE offers timely and potentially life-saving notifications via email and phone about an offender in custody,” Gov. Beshear said. “With the new funding, VINE also will help victims locate services they might need, provide alerts via text message and create a unified database.”

Some of the key features of Kentucky Enhanced VINE include:
Voice-driven phone system for victims to search via voice prompts for a faster and more intuitive means of service.

A heightened emphasis on confidentiality and security with the option of creating a password protected user account and a “quick escape” feature to quickly exit the application.

Users now can create a personalized watch list, allowing them to gain updated information for more than one offender at a time.

Users can search for service providers by ZIP code or county as well as by type of service.

The new platform will take several months to complete, and Enhanced Vine is expected to launch September 2021. For more information and to view the complete news release, click here

Child Care GuidelinesEric Friedlander, Secretary of the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services, spoke Monday about changes to the emergency regulations relating to child care, which aim to balance the safety and health of our children, caregivers and the public.

“We also recognize our children’s need to learn and socialize and the essential role of child care for working parents. It is good that everyone is now recognizing the importance of child care,” Secretary Friedlander said. “It has been a difficult time for child-care providers. CARES Act funding has resulted in over $67 million going to Kentucky child-care providers.”

In unveiling “Journey to a New Kentucky: Changes to Child-Care Facilities Guidance,” Secretary Friedlander said the department was offering a plan to address increasing capacity and the pre-existing shortages of registered and certified providers, while continuing to enforce child care standards.

Among the provisions in the new guidance:

- Help for parents to meet needs of nontraditional instruction (NTI) days by aiding background checks on providers and ensuring staffers are: masked; using proper hygiene; enforcing health checks and small groups; and have a plan is in place for when someone tests positive for COVID-19.

- Expanding the maximum number of allowed children to 15 for licensed child-care facilities.
- Certified homes, licensed infant and 1-year-old classrooms may return to typical group sizes.

- $2,500 startup incentive bonus through the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act to encourage new providers.

St. Elizabeth Named InterStim Center of Excellence

St. Elizabeth has been named an InterStimTM Center of Excellence, making it the first and only facility in the state and one of 10 in the nation to earn this prestigious designation for treating overactive bladder and urinary and fecal incontinence.

Awarded by Medtronic, the world’s largest medical device manufacturer, the designation illustrates St. Elizabeth’s high level of expertise and dedicated approach to its patients.

Center of Excellence designation was awarded based on several criteria, including:

• Exemplary use of the InterStimTM system
• Commitment to patient care for those suffering from symptoms associated with overactive bladder and fecal incontinence who have not received relief with other treatments
• Established care plan that outlines treatment
• Board-certified physicians certified in urology, obstetrics, gynecology or urogynecology

“The associates at the Edgewood Women’s Center and Ft. Thomas hospital share this honor,” said Dr. Susan Oakley, urogynecologist at St. Elizabeth Physicians who oversees the InterStimTM program. “It has been a six-year journey to meet all the criteria to be named a Center of Excellence. I cannot imagine performing these procedures for women with urinary and fecal incontinence at any other facility.”

Treatment with the InterStimTM system provides symptom relief by gently stimulating the sacral nerves just within your tailbone through a small device implanted in your lower back. The procedure is performed on an outpatient basis and does not require general anesthesia. Once implanted, the device sends mild electric currents that help control symptoms like fecal leaking, urinary incontinence and overactive bladder. Treatment is reversible and may be discontinued at any time.

“We are incredibly proud to be chosen by Medtronic for this recognition,” said Dr. Oakley. “InterStimTM is a simple, effective and well-researched, FDA approved incontinence therapy. It’s really a game changer. How wonderful it is that patients can undergo this simple two-step procedure and no longer need to take multiple medications or undergo invasive surgeries for their pelvic issues.”

St Elizabeth Urogynecology Edgewood and Ft. Thomas were also the first locations in the country to have cases using Medtronic’s new Basic Evaluation lead for InterStimTM trials.

In addition to the program’s designation, Kristen Kreinest, a Nurse Practitioner on the St. Elizabeth Urogynecology team, was honored by Medtronic. She became not only the first nurse practitioner in the Greater Cincinnati area with the ability to serve on the clinical staff, but also the first nurse practitioner in the United States to administer the updated InterStimTM Basic Evaluation lead office procedure.

Learn more about how the InterStimTM device may help you or make an appointment with our friendly staff by calling (859) 757-2132 or visit St. Elizabeth Urogynecology.

2020 Highlands Volleyball Preview

Bluebirds Not Letting Coronavirus 2019 Derail Uptick of Program

Highlands lists two seniors on the roster this year. One is setter/middle blocker/right side hitter Laura Winkler. The Bluebirds finished 29-8 last year, won a third straight 36th District crown before losing in the region semifinals to Notre Dame.

By G. Michael Graham

The Highlands Bluebirds volleyball team players and coaches are not taking this opportunity to answer some question marks lightly.

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"We have all definitely been very excited to get back into the gym to add a little bit of normalcy to our lives," said CC Shick, Highlands junior middle blocker/right side hitter. "But we have also been taking many precautions like wearing marks when we are not playing, sanitizing eveything and keeping our distance."

Highlands Head Coach Katelyn Sallee and staff normally start the season with 10 players on varsity then move player up from the junior varsity and freshman teams as the season progresses. The 10 players came into Friday's varsity-only practice and took temperature checks. They are not using locker rooms at this time.

Fort Thomas Resident To Serve as President for Fifth Third for Kentucky Region

Kimberly Halbauer named President for Fifth Third's Kentucky region.

On Friday, Fifth Third announced that Fort Thomas Resident Kimberly Halbauer has been promoted to president for Fifth Third Bank's Kentucky region. She is the first female president to serve in this role.

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Previously, Kimberly was the Managing Director for the Private Bank of Fifth Third in Cincinnati. In this role, she led a team of 150 investment professionals. Prior to this role, Kimberly was the direcot of Private Banking for Fifth Third Bank in Cincinnati for six years.

Kimberly, a Thomas More College graduate, started her career with Fifth Third in 1990 and has served on several boards in both Kentucky and Ohio. Her new role will be based in Louisville so she and her family will soon relocate there.

Weekend Golf Round-Up: Bluebirds Win Sixth Tournament

Toole Wins Highlands Girls Invitational

Contributed Photo. The Highlands Bluebirds boys golf team won its sixth tournament Saturday.

By G. Michael Graham

The Highlands Bluebirds boys golf team captured one of two tournaments played over the weekend.
Highlands won the St. Elizabeth Highlands Invitational on Saturday at the Willows in Erlanger shooting a 301 out of 21 teams for the sixth tournament win of the season. St. Henry finished second shooting 305.

KBE Authorizes KDE to Express Concerns, Urges KHSAA to Reconsider High-Contact Sports Options and Guidelines

The KBE met Friday to discuss details related to the KHSAA's recent decision to move forward with student athletics and high contact sports. (Img: KDE YouTube)

By Jessie Eden

The Kentucky Board of Education (KBE) met on Friday to discuss the KHSAA's decision to move forward with competition sports this Fall. As a result, the board voted unanimously to consider alternative options, guidance and further clarification on holding high-contact fall sports amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

The meeting, which lasted most of the day, resulted in a vote where the the KBE authorized the Kentucky Department of Education to write a letter to the KHSAA expressing the Board's concerns about high-contact Fall sports and giving them a chance to urge the KHSAA to reconsider some of the options they have set forth so far.

Board Chair Lu Young led the meeting and kicked it off by saying the meeting was not called to overturn the KHSAA's decision, rather it was an opportunity to review and discuss the decision. "We are not here to overturn the decision of the Board of Control (KHSAA)," said. Board Chair Lu Young. Governor Andy Beshear has also stated several times these past few weeks that he will not overturn the decision.

Lt. Governor Coleman and Dr. Stack also attended the meeting to answer any questions the KBE members may have. In the Governor's press conference on Monday, Dr. Stack expressed his concerns regarding the KHSAA decision. "There’s a lot we don’t know about this disease. We don’t know some of the more silent and serious harms this disease causes. We’re beginning to learn more. A sports cardiologist at the Ohio State University who tests positive for Covid-19 can develop a mild inflammation of the heart muscle called myocarditis," said Dr. Stack. "You can have sudden cardiac death due to an inflamed heart muscle. Ten to thirteen percent of those who got the virus developed myocarditis."

Watch the full meeting or read the full press release below;

Kentucky Board of Education seeks clarity on fall sports amid COVID-19 pandemic

(FRANKFORT, KY) – The Kentucky Board of Education (KBE) voted unanimously on Aug. 28 to send the Kentucky High School Athletic Association’s (KHSAA) Board of Control a letter urging them to consider alternative options, guidance and further clarification on holding high-contact fall sports amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

The letter will be made public when it is finalized, which is expected to be the first week of September.

The KHSAA Board of Control voted on Aug. 20 to allow fall sports practice to begin on Aug. 24, and for games to start on Sept. 7, upholding a tentative decision from July.

The KBE held a nearly 4-hour virtual special meeting on Aug. 28, watched by several thousand people on the Kentucky Department of Education (KDE)’s Media Portal, to discuss the KHSAA decision. But from the outset, KBE Chair Lu Young stressed the intention was not to stop sports.

“We are not here to overturn the decision of the Board of Control,” she said. Rumors to the contrary circulated on social media, resulting in thousands of calls and emails to KDE.

"Given the KBE’s duty to oversee the common schools, including interscholastic athletics, I felt it was only reasonable for the KBE to review the recent decision of the KHSAA Board of Control," she added. "As such, I called this special meeting ... for KBE members to receive accurate information related to the Board of Control decision, hear the concerns of district leaders and be educated on the medical science pertinent to this issue." 

Kentucky school district superintendents who spoke during the webcast requested consistent, unified guidance from state-level authorities: KBE, KDE, KHSAA and the Kentucky Department for Public Health (DPH).

Randy Poe, retired superintendent of Boone County Schools, said about 100 superintendents among the state’s 171 public school district are in their first term and they need to know their local decisions won’t be second-guessed by state officials.

Based on health information, LaRue County Superintendent David Raleigh said he expected recommendations on athletics would correspond with the recommendation to delay in-person classes until Sept. 28. When KHSAA authorized starting practice and games before returning to in-person class, Raleigh said, he had to answer many community questions.

“If we can’t have kids back in school for in person instruction, how can we allow athletics?” he said.

Raleigh said that while he’s a proponent of sports and the benefits they provide, he remains concerned about safety.

Alvin Garrison, Covington Independent Schools superintendent, will formally join KHSAA’s Board of Control on Sept. 1, but has been attending meetings since July. The group’s discussion has always been about how to restart athletics in the safest way possible, he said.

“The debate has been around the timing,” Garrison said.

Sports bring great social benefits, teaching leadership and citizenship, he said. But Garrison and other Northern Kentucky superintendents disagreed with starting at this point.

Without widespread testing, students and families will be placed at risk; and school districts don’t have the resources to test athletes regularly, he said.

Superintendent Mike Borchers of Ludlow Independent Schools said the same decision on whether reopening is a good idea will come back before school districts repeatedly in the coming months. When it does, local officials will need a unified message and support from state-level authorities in order to effectively implement opening or closing plans, Borchers said.

KHSAA Made Many Plans

Throughout last spring’s shutdown due to COVID-19 and this summer’s efforts to establish reopening standards, KHSAA’s relations with Gov. Andy Beshear and health officials has never been adversarial, KHSAA Commissioner Julian Tackett said.

The sports governing body adopted a cautious strategy of waiting to see how other states fared in restarting athletics and reviewing health data from many sources, he said.

KHSAA sought to strike a balance between young people’s psychological need for activities such as sports and protecting them from COVID-19, Tackett said.

“I can tell you we have developed, revised, trashed, envisioned about 40 plans,” he said.

The Board of Control’s decision gives schools an “opportunity” to hold sports, but leaves the decision up to local districts, Tackett has said.

He previously has said KHSAA is finalizing detailed guidance for sporting events and will issue guidance on spectator attendance. Much of KHSAA’s guidance will refer to existing KDE guidance on sanitization and transportation, Tackett said.

Health Effects Still Unknown

DPH Commissioner Dr. Steven Stack said DPH is working with KDE on a “stoplight” rating system for each county’s COVID-19 incidence. But it is not yet available and should not be used as the sole measure for opening or closing schools.

Given that 17 states have canceled high school football altogether while others have delayed their seasons, and that Gov. Andy Beshear recommended delaying in-person classes until Sept. 28, Stack said it would have made sense to him for Kentucky to at least differentiate between high-contact and low-contact sports, and delay the former.

Kentucky’s rate of COVID-19 infection has increased dramatically since the flagship Healthy at School guidance was released in June, Stack said. Cases have leveled off again now, but the higher incidence means the guidance should change to require students to wear face masks at all times except when eating or drinking, he said. When eating or drinking, people should be farther apart than the current recommendation of 6 feet, Stack said.

The top criterion for success in reopening is a low rate of COVID-19 transmission in the community, Stack said. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends limiting participation in extracurricular activities such as sports to tamp down transmission.

“Where social distancing doesn’t happen, disease spreads,” Stack said.

The Southeastern Conference requires heavy, frequent testing for COVID-19 related complications in its college football players, he said. Stack wondered how many Kentucky parents could afford to pay for that level of testing if their student athletes showed COVID-19 symptoms.

Most children who catch COVID-19 will be fine, he said. But even those without symptoms can carry a greater viral load than hospitalized adults, Stack said.

“They definitely can infect other people,” he said. “It is not just about ‘kids don’t die.’”

The disease’s long-term effects are still unknown, but some lingering conditions already are showing up, such as heart inflammation, Stack said. That may pose a particular risk for athletes who regularly put their bodies under strain, he said.

Stack said he thinks sports are inseparable from school and knows everyone wants to get back to a normal routine. But a COVID-19 vaccine will not be available this year and when one is developed, it will go first to the most vulnerable, he said. Until then, schools and communities must deal with it.

Financial Impacts

Vice Chair Sharon Porter Robinson asked what could be done to improve access to medical services for all students, a problem highlighted by COVID-19. Stack replied that there are many opportunities to improve equal access to healthcare, but he had no answer on how the issue should impact the decision to hold school sports.

Few medical facilities in Kentucky will perform echocardiograms on patients under age 18, although COVID-19 makes heart inflammation a potential problem for student athletes, Stack said. Even people with private health insurance are likely to face a $1,000 bill for that procedure as part of their deductible, he said.

Robinson asked if schools have enough resources to implement sports-related guidance and how KDE could support students who can’t afford the required protection.

Tackett said very little of the coming sports guidance goes beyond what already is recommended in Healthy at School. But funding challenges for schools will be exacerbated by attendance limits, meaning sports likely will not be self-sustaining this year, he said. Most schools use home football games to pay for other sports, so if that money dries up, districts will face prioritizing programs, Tackett said.

Friday, August 28, 2020

NKU's Informatics+ Announces Support for Regional and Global Projects

Northern Kentucky University's Informatics+ center has announced the first recipients of its project grant funding– Science Around Cincy, a project sparking the region's curiosity in scientific research, and The Know Rivalry Project, that dissects global sports fandom.

Informatics+ was launched in November 2019 to connect NKU's rich informatics talent with the region's needs— solving business problems and providing students with real-world learning experiences. The center supports community collaborations across the region, including the new Kroger Technology & Digital Innovation Lab on campus and coordinating NKU's efforts as part of a five-county regional tourism initiative centered on the Commonwealth's first bourbon journey.

Through its Project Grant program, Informatics+ supports research and creative projects that connect students to regional and global initiatives and leverage information's power. This spring, the center invited faculty members to submit funding proposals, encouraging cross-college collaborations. The selection committee received seven applications across four colleges on campus, requesting over $70,000. Two projects were selected.

John Gibson, Senior Lecturer in Electronic & Media Broadcasting, leads an NKU team on the video production side of the Science Around Cincy project. A series produced for public television by OutSCIder Productions, in collaboration with the Hamilton County Educational Service Center, spotlights local scientists and their work. The series aims to raise awareness around STEM careers while showcasing local initiatives, institutions and attractions around Greater Cincinnati.

The Know Rivalry Project measures and analyzes the global phenomenon of sports rivalry. Students in the Haile/US Bank College of Business have spent the last six years collecting and analyzing survey data from sports fans in the United States and Canada. The grant allows them to collect surveys from fans in Australia, England and India and analyze the data. Dr. Joe Cobbs, Professor of Sports Business and Event Management, partnered with Dr. Marius Truta, Professor of Computer Science, to create the project.

"These are exciting projects," said Kendall Fisher, Executive Director of Informatics+. "Students will be able to apply their informatics knowledge and creativity outside the classroom in new and meaningful ways."

Updates on the projects will be shared on the Informatics+ website. A call for a second round of proposals will be announced in the fall. 

To learn more, visit:

Village Players of Fort Thomas To Stream Annual Playwrighting Celebration Featuring New Works

"It's Alive-ish" -- Streaming August 29 through September 27

Village Players of Fort Thomas presents "It's Alive-ish" featuring 7 new streaming plays by local playwrights Aug. 29 - Sept. 27.  (Img: Village Players of Fort Thomas / "Humanoid": (back row, l-r) Jacqlyn Schott, Pam Blessing;(front row l-r) Khrys Styles, Lyle Benjamin) 

Village Players of Fort Thomas is thrilled to be able to bring quality, full-scale theatre back to the stage by sharing its annual New Works production virtually for the first time. It's Alive-ish: 7 new plays about weird stuff features original short plays by local playwrights and will be available for streaming from August 29 through September 27

Patrons can stream this charming and unique production, professionally filmed and edited by the team at Camera Behind the Curtain, from the safety of their homes. Think Disney+’s Hamilton, but without Lin Manuel Miranda. No masks, no shoes, no risk.

"Alive-ish" is not a zoom call or a reading! It's a full production—memorized and performed live on the VP stage and recorded for your convenience,” explains New Works founder, playwright, and actor Angela Klocke Forbes. “It's seven short, all-new plays written by local authors and performed by talented local actors which you can watch from the comfort of your COVID-free couch. And for the same, low price, you can even watch it more than once."

It’s Alive-ish features the work of playwrights Chris Bishop, Betsy Bossart, Roger Collins, A.K. Forbes, Judy Sceifres, Fred Tacon, and Eric Thomas, and the talents of local actors Rachel Baker, Lyle Benjamin, Pam Blessing, Ellie Conniff, John Conrard, Kevin Clarisey, Jessie Faye, Angela Klocke Forbes, Nathan Henegar, Katie Jensen, Rusty Lacy, Danielle Muething, Fred Murrell, Jeff Richardson, Jacqlyn Schott, Megan Schultheis, Khrys Styles, and Aimee Ward.

(Img: Village Players of Fort Thomas / "Best Served Cold": Katie Jensen and Nathan Henegar)

Nathan Henegar will direct New Works for the third year in a row. “I enjoy helping writers bring their ideas and stories to life in the collaborative laboratory that New Works creates,” he says. “The group is a great part of Village Players and I look forward to bringing the community new and original theatre for years to come.”

Tickets are just $10 and available online at

About Village Players

Village Players of Fort Thomas, Kentucky, is a vibrant community theatre that has produced plays and musicals for more than 50 years. Performing in an intimate space, you will feel like you are part of the action, sitting inches from the actors on three sides of the stage. We strive to appeal to a broad audience, producing three main-stage shows of varying styles and a children's show each winter. Village Players is a member of the American Association of Community Theatre (AACT), Association of Community Theatres Cincinnati (ACT), Ohio Community Theatre Association (OCTA), and the Kentucky Theatre Association (KTA).

(Img: "Next Level: (l-r) Rusty Lacy, Ellie Conniff, John Conrard)

(Img: "Nighty-Night": Rachel Baker)

(Img: "Time to Go": Megan Schultheis, Angela Klocke Forbes)

REAL ID Available by Appointment at Temporary Regional Driver's License Office in Florence

Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear promoted REAL ID at the beginning of the year. Due to the pandemic, the federal deadline was later pushed out another year to October 2021.

By Robin Gee

While the enforcement date for the federal Department of Homeland Security REAL ID card is over a year away (October 23, 2021), those who would like to obtain the state mandated Kentucky REAL ID card can do so now. The state has added temporary regional driver’s license offices to handle requests, including one in Florence.

Once the federal law goes into effect, standard Kentucky driver’s licenses will not be accepted for air travel or for admission to U.S. military bases and restricted federal facilities such as the White House or nuclear power plants. Instead, the Kentucky REAL ID card can be used.

Passports and other federal forms of identification will still be accepted, but the REAL ID can be a convenient option. Information on REAL ID can be found at the website.

Where to schedule an appointment

Any state resident who wants a REAL ID card or a standard license, and who does not require testing or retesting, can get one at a Regional Driver's License Office. In addition to eight permanent driver’s license offices in places such as Frankfort and Lexington, the state has opened four additional temporary offices — including the one in Florence at 8120 Dream Street, Suite A.

The Florence office is not walk-in, however. You must schedule an appointment ahead on the Kentucky Regional Driver's License Office page on the website. You can call for technical assistance at (859) 431-1072. Hours are 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. Health and safety protocols will be in place, and no cash will be accepted (debit or credit cards only).

What you will need for your application

Here is a list of some of the identification materials you will need to apply for the REAL ID. Get a complete list of accepted documents see the REAL ID Fact Sheet on the website.

  • proof of identity such as a passport, birth certificate or permanent resident card
  • proof of Social Security, such as the Social Security card, a current tax year W-2 or 1099 form
  • two forms of proof of residency such as your current driver’s licenses, utility bill, etc.

If your legal name, date of birth or gender are different than what is on your proof documents, you will need to bring additional legal documentation such as divorce papers, court orders, etc.

What it costs

The REAL IDs (non-CDL applications) can be purchased to be good for four or eight years. Those with CDLs are only available for eight-year periods. A regular driver’s license REAL ID is currently $24 for four years or $48 for eight years. A list of costs and types of licenses can be found on the Kentucky driver's license “Pricing” page on the site.

Thursday, August 27, 2020

Here's What Beshear said about Friday's KBE Meeting Regarding Sports

By Jessie Eden

On Thursday afternoon, Governor Andy Beshear responded to questions on the KHSAA meeting to be held Friday in his daily Covid-19 press conference.

He stated several times that he did not call the meeting and shared some comments on the use of masks, crowds at games and the testing and quarantining of student athletes.

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“Now, rumors and Facebook have resulted in people calling and making threats to hardworking servants of civic offices. If you’re one of those people who called today and made threats, go talk to your minister," said Gov. Beshear. "There are going to be changes we have to make along the way with Covid-19. My position has not changed but the Kentucky Board of Education has said they won’t be deciding on sports tomorrow during the meeting."
Gov. Beshear also elaborated that he did not ask for the meeting to be held. "I didn’t ask for the meeting to be called. If this is going to be a parental choice, a superintendent choice, a principle choice, a coach choice, it has to be based on real information. I’ve seen a waiver sent around saying I know the risks of Covid-19 but do the parents know the risks? I'd like to see a meeting where they lay out all the information that's out there. We are seeing, at least, a positive response right now when there are Covid cases in sports teams and we've seen a bunch of them...I think a discussion, which did not occur at the previous meeting on different safety precautions, is something that we all ought to be open to but everybody, take a breath," said Gov. Beshear. "I don’t think there’s any change coming, I'm not the board of education, but Facebook spreading all these rumors and getting people all riled up and then acting in different ways towards people I think are just trying to do a good job, we ought to be a little bit better than that."

Dr. Stack to Attend Meeting

Gov. Beshear also mentioned that Dr. Stephen Stack will be attending the Kentucky Board of Education's meeting on Friday to answer questions about Covid-19. "Tomorrow at the KBE meeting, Dr. Stack will answer questions about the spread of the disease and we all know the virus spreads by close contact. I think they just want to ask him questions about what we talked about here the other day which is there are real concerns about the ability to succeed in a full season or even a partial season and there is a threat to the student athlete, him or herself. As the commissioner for the the Department of Public Health, answering those questions is his job."

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Crowds at High School Games?

Gov. Beshear was asked what his thoughts were on crowds at games. "As far as high school sports go, there will be more info from the KHSAA. It can't be normal. It can't be normal. If there are crowds, you gotta be willing to kick somebody's parent out if they aren't wearing a mask. So, we got to think really carefully about that before hand. One stadium where they aren't following guidelines could end a schools' football season. You got to look at the risk. I know there are some decisions mentioning just parents and there are other decisions being made out there. I just want to make sure if these decisions are moving forward, that decisions being made - if there is a positive on the team, you postpone, even if it's the big rivalry game. We just got to make sure we see that kind of positive behavior." 

He also elaborated on some people disregarding the guidance of local health departments. "We see a lot of instances, not just sports teams, but people arguing with the local health department about who should and shouldn't quarantine. You got a big group of kids, that's just part of the deal. You're not a member of the local health department and the thought that 'No, I don't think all these kids should quarantine, just these four should"...well, that gets into the realm of ignoring the local health department and doing something that we just don't think is safe right now."

KHSAA Guidelines Requirements?

Gov. Beshear reiterated that even though his position hasn't changed, he did not call the KBE meeting and he is not involved with it. "My position hasn't changed. If we're going to beat this virus, we need responsible decisions made by coaches, parents, schools and superintendents. What are some requirements that ought to be there to keep kids safe? We shouldn't be using locker rooms. Are we going to test athletes in high contact sports if testing is available in the area? My understanding is that there are a number of members of the board of education that want parents to have information about health that was not available in the KHSAA meeting. The KBE, that's the board that I appointed but once appointed, they operate as that board."

Gov. Beshear also provided his regular Covid-19 update;

Daily Covid-19 Report At-a-Glance

775 (Total Cases: 45,978)


- Total Tests Completed in KY: 848,937
- Hospitalized currently: 573
- In ICU currently: 154
- On Ventilators: 88
- Recovered Patients: 9,731
- Ever Hospitalized: 4,501
- Ever in ICU: 1,368

> DEATHS: 8 (Total Deaths: 904 )
- No deaths reported in NKY

- Campbell County: 7 (Total: 670)
- Kenton County: 14 (Total: 1680)
- Boone County: 8 (Total: 1255)

- 23% of today’s positive cases are under 18 yrs old = 130 kids
- 11 kids in Warren County (school system is open right now)

- 26 new students tested positive (although some may not be in school yet)
- 3 new teachers
- 22 new schools

- 11 new students
- 1 new teacher
- 2 new schools

Oktoberfest Zinzinnati Moves Forward with Hybrid Plan of Virtual and In-Person Events

There won't be a "Running of the Weiners" this year but you'll still have a chance to celebrate Oktoberfest Zinzinnati in other ways. (Img: Leigh Taylor, 2019, Oktoberfest Zinzinnati Facebook)

By Jessie Eden

The Cincinnati Chamber, organizers of Oktoberfest Zinzinnati, announced on Thursday morning that it plans to move forward with the annual festival this year. The Chamber is structuring the festival in several different ways for participants to celebrate (and celebrate safely).

The event will take place September 18 through September 27 with a majority of events being held virtually and some smaller events throughout the city.

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Oktoberfest Zinzinnati, presented by Samuel Adams and Kroger, is traditionally the nation’s largest Oktoberfest and the second largest in the world to the original Oktoberfest in Munich. 

In an article posted by the Cincinnati Business Courier, Cynthia Oxley stated that the 2020 Munich event has been cancelled due to Covid-19. “As the Zinzinnati event will be held across the entire Zinzinnati region and Munich’s event is not happening in 2020, Oktoberfest Zinzinnati 2020 is taking it upon itself to assume the title of World’s Largest Oktoberfest,” said Cynthia.

Celebrating Virtually...and In-Person

The various ways to celebrate, both virtually and in-person, are outlined below;

Oktoberfest Zinzinnati In Za Haus will enable Oktoberfest lovers to get their German on in the privacy of their homes by ordering do-it-yourself Oktoberfest Zinzinnati Zelebration Packs.

Featuring items from Sam Adams, Kroger, and more. Zelebration Packs will be available to purchase through Das Onlein Shop, beginning Sep. 1.

Watch out for Oktoberfest Zinzinnati Bands performing Polka Pop Ups in a variety of local neighborhoods, tu-ba announced.

Greater Zinzinnatians will have the ability to celebrate while supporting favorite eateries and pubs.

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Planned Events

These festivities will be found online In Za Haus as well as in select restaurants and bars;

Friday, Sep. 18
Oktoberfest Zinzinnati Official Opening Ceremony including a special guest message

Saturday, Sep. 19
World’s Largest Chicken Dance

Friday, Sep. 25
Samuel Adams Stein Hoist Challenge

Saturday, Sep. 26
World’s Largest Oktoberfest Toast & Prost led by Jim Koch, Founder of Samuel Adams

Every night, Sep. 18-27
Singing of Ein Prosit with special guests

Every night, Sep. 18-27
Oktoberfest Zinzinnati live and virtual entertainment & performances

More information will be announced soon. 

Learn more about this year's Oktoberfest Zinzinnati by clicking here.

VOTE: Request an Absentee Ballot Now through October 8

You can now request an absentee ballot through Oct. 8.
(img: KY Voter information portal)

By Jessie Eden

You can now request an absentee ballot now through October 8. To request your absentee ballot, visit

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In this week's Covid-19 press conference, Governor Andy Beshear reminded viewers to vote this November. “Voting is the bedrock principle of this democracy,” said Gov. Beshear. “The way that you are heard is to make sure you vote, and there are going to be more ways to vote now than ever before.  If we believe we are patriots and doing our patriotic duty, certainly we ought to be voting.”

Register To Vote

If you are not yet registered to vote, the registration deadline is below; you can register to vote here.

Other Ways to Vote

There are also two other ways you can vote in this year's general election;

1. Walk-in to clerk's office prior to Election Day for early voting from October 13 through November 2.


Monday through Friday, from 8:30 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Select Saturdays: 10/17, 10/24, 10/3 from 9 a.m. - 1 p.m.

No appointment is needed. The Main Office location is below;

1098 Monmouth Street, Newport, KY, 41071

2. Request an application in the mail from your clerk by clicking here. 

3. Vote in-person on Election Day at your county's polling locations. Due to the Covid-19 virus, there will be fewer polling locations open. Polling locations in Campbell County have not yet been announced. FTM will provide updates as they become available.


All requests, except requests due to an emergency medical condition under KRS 117.077, are due by October 9. View additional deadlines here.

Just Two Weeks Left to Enjoy the Silver Grove Dari Bar

Cars line up around the Dari Bar to get their beloved sweet treats.
(Img: Wayne Litmer Photography)

By Jessie Eden

This is not a drill. The Dari Bar in Silver Grove has announced that it's last day for this season will be Monday, September 7.

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In a post on their Facebook page, the Dari Bar thanked everyone for a great summer. "Thank you so much for your patronage. If you haven’t had the chance to visit us this year, you have two weeks to get a delicious peanut butter shake or try our new blueberry dip top."

If you haven't been to the Dari Bar, you're certainly missing out...but there is still time to drive through and place your order.

We've included the full menu below. Remember, cash only (although there is now an ATM on site for all your cash needs)