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Monday, March 30, 2020

Gov. Beshear Issues Executive Order: Do Not Travel Across the Border



By Jessie Eden

Governor Andy Beshear has issued a new executive travel order. Kentuckians are being told not to travel across the border into other states, except for small exceptions.


You can travel for the following reasons;

  • Crossing the border for your job
  • If you are on the border and need medicine
  • If you're required to cross the border for health care
  • If you need to care for a loved one
  • If a court requires you

He also urged people who have been outside of Kentucky to self-quarantine. He specifically cited people who had been on spring break asking them to self quarantine for 14 days, just as a precaution. "We're Kentucky first," said Gov. Beshear. "We want to protect our people to the maximum extent possible."

Additionally, he told Kentuckians that if you travel to a different state, outside of these exceptions, you will be required to self-quarantine for 14 days.

Update on Cases in Kentucky:

Governor Beshear also said in a press conference on Monday that two people have died from the coronavirus. One is presumptive but likely will come back as coronavirus positive. A 88-year-old female from Kenton County and a 90-year-old female from Simpson County. Both had other health conditions but Coronavirus was a contributing factor.

There are also 42 new cases, one of which is presumptive. The total is now 480. There were three cases confirmed in Northern Kentucky;

1 in Campbell County
1 in Kenton County
1 in Boone County

One staff member and one resident at a Northern Kentucky Nursing Home in Campbell County have tested positive. Four other individuals are being tested. The total number of tests in Kentucky totals around 15k to 20k. This is per individual, not number of tests as some patients are tested multiple times.

Despite these recent updates, Gov. Beshear reassured Kentuckians that what they are doing is making a difference. "The amount of social distancing we do and the amount of contacts we decrease is going to make a huge difference on what we see going forward. We are doing well but we have to do better."

"Every positive decision you make saves lives. This is the challenge of our times, we didn't know in our generation that we would face something like this. This is our chance and our time. What we're being called upon is just to follow the rules and stay home. If we are able to take on a worldwide pandemic, that would say something about us. It says that we care more about each other than our bottom line."




Additional Updates:

Gov. Beshear also mentioned that his office has reached out to all the Home Depots and Lowes in Kentucky and the stores will be making changes to handle larger crowds.

His office is closer to drive-through testing...but they are still sorting out some things with it.

Another update -- a 1-year-old who tested positive in Fayette County is now at home with mild symptoms.

In terms of unemployment resources, Kentucky unemployment has added 120 people to the phone lines to help answer questions, process applications. Gov. Beshear urged people to just keep trying to get through.

To a Lost Senior Year: Highlands Senior VP Reflects on the COVID-19 Pandemic



Hiren Lemma is a guest writer for The Hilltopper and serves as Vice President for the Highlands High School Senior Class. (Img: Stella Fahlbusch)


Note:
The following is an article outlining how seniors are dealing with missing out on their senior year of high school. It was written by Hiren Lemma, the Vice President for the Highlands High School Senior Class. You can also read it here.



This is not how it was supposed to be. Spring semester of senior year -- this is just not how it was supposed to be.

The past two weeks have been an absolute whirlwind. Our perception of COVID-19 has shifted from a meme to a distant threat to a global pandemic permeating every aspect of daily life. As a country, we have slowly begun to transition to more proactive measures. Finally looking at other nations' responses, and the successes and challenges they've faced, has facilitated more pointed action. A delayed incentive to act proactively, though, is simply reactive.

Like most of us, I had much to look forward to coming into spring semester. Nearly all of the landmark events that define senior year fall during this period of time: final prom, visiting my future college, graduation. An infinite list of lasts that I simply can not let go: a last high school orchestral performance, a last Mrs. Kearns hug. One last Potato Soup Bread Bowl day.

The simplicity and profundity of experiencing a last day of high school.

I know we are not at that point yet. By the current schedule, we should return to school as usual by April 20th. After these past few days, though, I am finding it more and more difficult to hold onto the optimism I had on the last Friday of normal classes. The status of the pandemic across the globe has accelerated dramatically. Global allies in this fight offer glimpses into our future. Nations even more prepared than we are, resource-wise, are struggling. As districts across the country shift permanently to online classes for the remainder of the academic year, as Harvard University plans an "online degree ceremony" as they indefinitely postpone their renowned annual Commencement, the prospect of returning to the halls of Highlands High School dims slowly.

As such, I have begun to mourn my senior year. I mourn the concept of Senior Spring that I had held on to for so long. I have taken on a difficult course load each of my four years. All the long days and sleepless nights, though, were meant to culminate as the beginning of my college transition. The months that ended my high school career and commenced my undergraduate experience composed the goal I had been working towards since I was 13 years old, struggling through AP Human Geography DYRTs and Pre-AP English I Advanced speeches, planning for the ACTs and SATs I would take in the years to come. But now, with a complete revaluation of AP examinations by the College Board and the unprecedented difficulty of shifting to solely technology-based learning, the end to my senior year has manifested into the most stressful period of the entire four years. (Except for possibly third-quarter of sophomore year -- that was rough.)

I am not ready to let go of College T-Shirt Day. I still need the opportunity to thank all of the administrators and teachers that have shaped my worldview in ways I have yet to fully comprehend. I need to sit beside my peers of the past nine years and learn, explore, grow one last time. COVID-19 has stolen the most influential period of my life to date, and I feel like I'm in an echo chamber, screaming at Corona to give it back. Pleading for one more chance in the good old days.

But I also know that this pandemic is bigger than me. It's bigger than my family or Fort Thomas, our state or our country. The novel coronavirus is an extremely infectious respiratory disease that has killed over 18,000 people globally--and infected over 400,000--in just about four months. Beyond disrupting my prom or graduation ceremony, it has demolished the American economy, putting a costly pause to small and large businesses across the nation. My delayed appreciation to teachers and mentors doesn't even remotely compare to the families who have been stripped of their loved ones, to the medical personnel who prove their patriotism every day by leaving the sanctity of their homes to fight this pandemic head-on.

I am struggling. We, as members of the Class of 2020, are struggling. Americans across this country are struggling.

We will overcome, though, because we understand that we are living history as we speak. We are fighting the pandemic the ways we can -- washing our hands, social distancing, self-isolation -- because we understand that the repercussions of our actions move beyond our communities.




How do I feel about the coronavirus? I feel helpless. I feel wronged. I feel as though everything that has happened over the last few months has been insanely unfair. I feel frustrated because some of this chaos could have been prevented, and now, steps to prevent even worse tragedies are being hindered by politicians focused on what we should have done rather than what we need to do now. I feel angry that not everyone has recognized the momentousness of this moment. I feel desperate for change and progress but impotent because all I can do is sit in my home and wait.

But ultimately, I feel hopeful. In these past weeks, I have seen stronger efforts toward unity and compassion than at any other time that I have witnessed in recent American history. People around the world have reached out to empathize with our class and offer guidance as we navigate the unknown ahead. Our communities have come together to support one another the way we can, and that, more than anything, fills me with a sense of optimism in anticipation of the eventual end of this crisis.

And so, to the Highlands High School Class of 2020, I say thank you. Thank you for nine years of laughter and tears, of stress and bliss. Even as we look towards the possibility of an abrupt end to a beautiful chapter, you show me every day why I am proud to be a bluebird.

Until we return to the nest,

Hiren Lemma

Your Vice-President and Friend

St. Elizabeth President & CEO: 'We Stand Ready to Face COVID-19'

WE STAND READY TO FACE COVID-19

St. Elizabeth Healthcare: We are ready to face COVID-19.
(Img: St. E Facebook Page)

By Garren Colvin, President and Chief Executive Officer, St. Elizabeth Healthcare

There is not a person in our community who has been able to avoid the impact of COVID-19 --
whether through conversations with friends, virtual school schedules for students while at home,
or avoided hugs and handshakes. Throughout our long history, St. Elizabeth has answered the
call to serve time after time when our community has needed us most. Rest assured, we are right here and stand ready once again, to care for you and your loved ones during this crisis. Since the outbreak took hold in early March, we've leaned on our existing preparedness protocols and initiated additional proactive measures to keep our patients, visitors, volunteers, physicians and associates as safe and healthy as possible.

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Led by our experienced Infectious Disease Response Team (IDRT), these efforts include the following:

Right Here for Our Patients and Their Families
Given the nature of this virus, sanitization, sterilization, and social distancing are a top priority. We have scaled back visitation rights, reduced the number of available entry points for patients/visitors to enter each hospital location, begun wearing surgical masks when treating all patients, and begun taking the temperature of all who enter our facilities each day. All elective surgeries have been suspended. We've added additional state-of-the-art sanitizing stations in all of our buildings. On a daily basis, we are deep cleaning patient rooms, including floors and ceilings. At least twice per shift, our environmental services teams are applying safe, CDC-approved germicide to common areas, lobbies, restrooms and elevators. These precautions will keep our facilities as safe as possible. We know these precautions are unprecedented, and some might be challenging for our patients and their loved ones, but rest assured our associates are continuing to deliver outstanding care and comfort to our patients. Wi-Fi enabled devices are encouraged for Virtual Video Visits and patients at home can use these virtual health options for physician consultations if they have a health concern. A Virtual Video Visit allows patients to speak to their physician using live audio and video through a mobile phone, tablet or MyChart. These virtual visits provide patients the opportunity to socially distance and help prevent the spread of disease.

Right Here for Our Community
As healthcare experts, we're taking the opportunity to share our knowledge on preventing and navigating a COVID-19 diagnosis. We're providing real-time updates through our website and social media channels. We'll continue to provide direct communication with the latest developments, outlining actions being taken and recommended patient precautions.

The incubation period for COVID-19 is estimated to be between one and 14 days. During the incubation period, infected individuals have the potential to spread the virus even if they do not yet exhibit symptoms. We ask that everyone take all necessary precautions to remain as healthy as possible.



Please keep in mind:

  • The most effective methods to avoid infecting others include: hand washing; avoiding touching your eyes, nose or mouth; covering your mouth and nose with a tissue or with your bent elbow when you cough or sneeze; and maintaining distance from others when possible.
  • Even if you feel well, our physicians recommend that you maintain distance (approximately 6 feet) from others whenever possible.
  • If you or your family member show symptoms of illness, including cough, congestion, fever and/or body aches, contact your primary care provider.
  • If you have a routine visit scheduled with your primary care provider or a specialist, please call the office to confirm the need for you to keep your appointment or ask if it could be conducted through a St. Elizabeth Virtual Video Visit.

Just a few weeks ago, the term "social distancing" was not a part of our daily conversation. This situation continues to evolve at a rapid rate, but our care teams are still right here, doing all they can to guide us through this pandemic. Our nation has never encountered anything quite like this in our lifetime, but St. Elizabeth has enormous faith, heart, strength and resiliency. We will rise to the challenge together, caring for each other, our patients, our loved ones and our community.

Gov. Beshear Urges Kentuckians to Remain Vigilant on Social Distancing

Governor says crowding at golf courses, stores threatens further spread of COVID-19



FRANKFORT, Ky. (March 29, 2020) -- Gov. Andy Beshear pressed Kentuckians on Sunday to remain vigilant about social distancing amid reports of crowding at golf courses, basketball courts and home improvement stores to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) and reduce the risk to others.

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Gov. Beshear said people and businesses must do better to stop the spread of COVID-19 or risk undoing the sacrifices and efforts of everyone else.

"We can't allow any crowds in Kentucky right now," Gov. Beshear said. "Where social distancing cannot be followed, we are going to have to shut golf courses and other places down."

People must maintain social distancing at state parks, at basketball courts, in grocery stores and home improvement stores, Gov. Beshear said.

"When we go to places we have to make sure we do it in a responsible way," the Governor said.

"We're at crunch time. The next two to three weeks are pivotal," said Dr. Steven Stack, commissioner of the Department for Public Health. He advised people to follow the guidance from Gov. Beshear and public health officials.

"Assume everybody you see has the coronavirus," Dr. Stack said. "If you keep the six to ten feet between and keep the social distance, you'll be OK."

Gov. Beshear and Dr. Stack said following the guidance is key to stopping the spread and reducing the risk to others, which will save lives. They said a small number of irresponsible people could cost others their lives. COVID-19 has been a contributing factor in the death of nine Kentuckians and more than 400 have tested positive.

While he and his staff are working every day to secure more equipment, Gov. Beshear said the state's health care resources -- 18,500 hospital beds, 1,300 ICU beds and 1,352 ventilators -- will be further stretched if people do not do their part to control the spread and cause a more severe outbreak.

From the start, Gov. Beshear has urged social distancing for everyone as key to stopping the spread of the virus. He issued a formal letter banning all mass gatherings and has encouraged businesses to allow employees to work from home when possible.

To combat guideline noncompliance, Gov. Beshear set up the COVID-19 Reporting Hotline (833-597-2337) as well as an online portal, kysafer.ky.gov, for Kentuckians to report problems.

Case information

As of 5 p.m. March 29, the Governor said there were at least 439 cases of COVID-19 in Kentucky, with 45 of those being newly confirmed. There were no new deaths reported Sunday, leaving the state's toll at nine deaths related to the virus.


Key updates last week:


Largest one-day rise in cases

The 92 new positive COVID-19 cases announced Saturday by Gov. Beshear marked the largest one-day rise of confirmed cases in the commonwealth. "This is why we have social distancing," said Gov. Beshear. "This is a virus that spreads like wildfire." The Governor said we have been expecting these big increases and noted our many sacrifices are aimed at 'flattening the curve' on rising cases so patients don't overwhelm health care providers.

Federal disaster aid

On Saturday, Gov. Beshear shared good news of federal aid flowing to help the commonwealth's coronavirus response and recovery efforts. The Major Disaster Declaration issued by President Donald Trump broadens access to the Public Assistance Program statewide to pay for emergency protective services not covered by other federal statutes. It also lets state and local agencies recover expenses related to the emergency response.

CARES Act helps Kentucky workers

The federal Coronavirus, Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, or CARES Act, which was just signed into law, provides wide-ranging benefits to all Kentuckians. In particular, it provides a variety of assistance and hope to Kentuckians whose livelihoods have been harmed by the coronavirus outbreak and response. "I signed an agreement with the Department of Labor that provides for us to raise the maximum weekly benefit by $600, increase benefits weeks by 13 additional weeks, fund unemployment insurance for individuals not typically eligible and finally allows states to expand workshare programs," Gov. Beshear said.

Tennessee travel

Gov. Beshear has asked Kentuckians to avoid unnecessary travel to Tennessee, which has failed to enact strict social distancing guidelines. Kentuckians can still go to Tennessee for work, to take care of a loved one or even buy groceries if it is closer, but the Governor asks Kentuckians not to travel across the southern state line to partake in activities that have been limited or were limited earlier in Kentucky.

Team Kentucky Fund

Gov. Beshear, along with the Kentucky Public Protection Cabinet, took executive action to establish the Team Kentucky Fund, a GoFundMe-style online platform to provide financial help to Kentuckians whose employment is affected by the coronavirus. The Governor has challenged those who are able to help to make a tax-deductible donation to the fund. University of Kentucky basketball Coach John Calipari recorded a video encouraging people to help fellow Kentuckians and donate to the Team Kentucky Fund.

Reporting hotline

The COVID-19 Reporting Hotline (833-597-2337) is for reporting non-compliance with coronavirus mandates. Labor Cabinet personnel will monitor the hotline from 7:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. ET. A new website where Kentuckians can visit to make online complaints is kysafer.ky.gov.

To read about other key updates from Gov. Beshear visit the news section on governor.ky.gov.


More Information
Gov. Beshear has taken decisive actions to protect all Kentuckians since the first case was confirmed in the commonwealth. To read the full list of actions Gov. Beshear has taken to protect Kentuckians and limit the spread of the coronavirus, visit governor.ky.gov/covid19.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) encourages people to follow these steps to prevent illness. Kentuckians who want advice can call the state hotline at 800-722-5725 or call their local health care provider. To read Gov. Beshear's news releases and watch other news regarding COVID-19 visit governor.ky.gov.

Each day at 5 p.m. ET, Gov. Beshear holds briefings for Kentuckians that are streamed online at his Facebook and YouTube pages.

Gov. Beshear continues to urge Kentuckians to be cautious of rumors and depend on proven and good sources of news, including governor.ky.gov, kycovid19.ky.gov and the Governor's official social media accounts Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

Team Kentucky hashtags for social media
#TeamKentucky, #TogetherKY, #Patriot and #HealthyAtHome.

Saturday, March 28, 2020

First COVID-19 Related Death in Northern Kentucky


The first patient identified with COVID-19 in Northern Kentucky has died. The patient, a resident of Kenton County, was over 60 years of age and had underlying medical issues.

“Our thoughts go out to their loved ones during this very difficult time,”  said Dr. Lynne Saddler, District Director of Health for the Northern Kentucky Health Department. “This sad event underscores our message now more than ever – all Northern Kentuckians need to maintain social distancing and stay healthy at home to prevent the spread of COVID-19.”

As of 4:30 p.m. Saturday, March 28, 2020, 3 additional cases of COVID-19 have been identified in Northern Kentucky, for a total of 26 cases. There have been 16 in Kenton County, 5 in Boone County, 4 in Campbell County and 1 in Grant County.

Cases will continue to be identified in Northern Kentucky through testing, but there are even more people in the community who are ill at home. Some with symptoms associated with COVID-19 (fever, coughing and difficulty breathing) are being evaluated by their health care provider through telehealth visits. Even without testing, a health care provider can tell a patient if they think they have COVID-19, and will give the same instructions for care: Those with milder symptoms must stay home, avoid others, take fever reducing medications, and practice infection control at home. If symptoms become more serious, they should seek emergency care.

At this time, availability of tests is limited, and health care providers and systems are carefully determining who needs to be tested. For those with no or mild symptoms, testing is not recommended.

Friday, March 27, 2020

Gov. Beshear: If You're a Kentuckian, I Need You To Not Go To Tennessee


By Jessie Eden

UPDATE AS OF 6:49 P.M. - "Unfortunately we have had a third death today, bringing our total #COVID19 related deaths to 8. Today we lost a 73-year-old female from Jefferson Co. Our thoughts are with her family. ^AB" (Gov. Beshear's Facebook Page)

Governor Andy Beshear issued his daily Coronavirus update for Friday, Mar. 27 with the following updates;

- There have been three additional deaths. A 75 year-old-female from Fayette and a 77-year-old male from Hopkins. This is the first day Kentucky has had two deaths in one day.

- We had 54 new cases today. We expect the numbers to elevate but the increase is small right now.

NEW CASES LOCALLY AS OF MAR. 27: 

Boone = 1
Campbell = 2
Kenton = 3

- "There are reports that a church in Florence is still holding service. Several people have reported the church by calling the hotline. We can't still be doing some of this," said Gov. Beshear. "I'm a person of deep faith, so are so many other people who have made the sacrifice not to go to an in-person service. God would not want to put our people at risk in this way. I know that in my heart. Please, please follow these directives."

- A Perry Co. man in a nursing home that they believe tested positive yesterday was incorrect. This man's test has come back as negative.

Governor Beshear continued to reiterate that a large increase is still possible. "The next two weeks are critical. We have very, very large surges going on in various parts of the country. We have more time than they do to reduce that curve. We aren't competing with another state, we're competing for the health and lives of our people."

- Gov. Beshear strongly stated that Kentuckians along the border of Tennessee should not travel to Tennessee. Tennessee has not taken the steps that we have. "If you're a Kentuckian, I need you to not go to Tennessee. We will be better protected as a state if our neighbors do the same thing but I can't control them." 



- Gov. Beshear has also contacted city and county officials to close public playgrounds, basketball courts have been ordered to close to discourage large crowds.

- Eric Friedlander spoke on the issues of homelessness and what is being done to help this demographic. He stated they are doing everything they can do to help aid those experiencing homelessness. There is more HUD funding potentially coming down from the federal government. Shelters are offering guidance. He asked local communities to work together.

- Unemployment claims are being processes, despite some people receiving messages saying they do not qualify. This is not accurate. You will get an email from unemployment next week outlining your claim.

- A segment outlining ways to connect with your child during this time was featured at the beginning of the briefing. You can view it here.

- There are 1,352 ventilators in Kentucky. Gov. Beshear says they are trying to increase that supply every day.

- Kentucky is working with at least two hotels to hopefully allow the space to turn into extended hospital space, if needed.

This Week at the State Capitol: Mar. 23 - 27



The following was released by LRC Public Information;

FRANKFORT -- Progress continued this week on two matters considered top priorities by many state lawmakers: the next state budget and relief for workers and businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.




With the schedule for the General Assembly's 2020 session abbreviated in response to COVID-19 precautions, the Senate and House convened one day this week. Lawmakers serving on a budget conference committee also met this week to continue ironing out differences among proposals that would guide state spending over the next two years. Many say the next budget is likely to be austere -- more so than expected just several weeks ago -- as a result of the pandemic and the economic downturn. Lawmakers are working with an eye toward having a budget plan both chambers can vote on next week before a veto recess begins.

Broad bipartisan agreement was reached on efforts to provide COVID-19 relief this week. On Thursday, both the Senate and House approved Senate Bill 150, legislation that originally dealt with out-of-network insurance billing but was amended after the virus that causes COVID-19 arrived in Kentucky to strengthen the state's response and offer relief to those impacted by the pandemic.

Senate Bill 150 would loosen requirements for unemployment benefits and extend help to self-employed workers and others who would otherwise not be eligible. It would also:

·         Expand telemedicine options by allowing out-of-state providers to accept new patient visits. Insurers would be required to cover those visits at the same rate as in-person visits.

·         Provide immunity for health care providers who render care or treatment in good faith during the current state of emergency. It would also give immunity to businesses that make or provide protective equipment or hygiene supplies that are outside their usual scopes of business.

·         Extend the state's income tax filing deadline to July 15, the same extension offered by the federal government.

·         Address open meeting laws by allowing meetings to take place utilizing live audio or live video teleconferencing.

·         Require the governor to declare in writing the date that the state of emergency ends.




The legislation was approved by both chambers on Thursday. The Senate approved the bill on a 30-0 vote and the House approved the measure 82-0 before sending it to the governor's office.

Other bills approved over the past week include the following:


House Bill 415 would allow distillers, wineries, and breweries to be licensed to ship their beverages directly to consumers. Packages would have to be clearly labeled and signed for by someone 21 or older. Shipping to "dry" areas that don't allow alcohol sales would be prohibited. The legislation was approved by the Senate 21-11 on Thursday. The bill has been delivered to the governor.

House Bill 2 would require a national anti-human trafficking hotline number to be advertised in airports, truck stops, train stations and bus stations. Posters with the hotline number are currently required in rest areas. The bill would also close a loophole in the state sex offender registry by adding specific human trafficking offenses to the definition of a sex crime. Those convicted of human trafficking offenses would face a minimum $10,000 fine. House Bill 2 was approved by the Senate 33-0 on Thursday and has been delivered to the governor's office.

Senate Bill 72 would ban female genital mutilation, which the World Health Organization describes as procedures that intentionally alter or cause injury to female genital organs for non-medical reasons. The procedures are mostly carried out on young girls. Kentucky is among 15 states where they are not illegal. Senate Bill 72 would make performing female genital mutilation on minors a felony, ban trafficking girls across state lines for the procedure and take away licenses from medical providers convicted of the practice. On Thursday, the Senate concurred with a House amendment that placed an emergency clause in the legislation so that it would become effective immediately upon being signed into law. The bill has been delivered to the governor.

To offer feedback to lawmakers on the issues under consideration, call the General Assembly's toll-free message line at 1-800-372-7181.

Campbell County Trail Passport is the Perfect Way to Practice 'Social Distancing'


Check some trails off your Campbell County Trail Passport this Spring!


By Jessie Eden

As you're trying to figure out different outdoor activities that still follow the rule of 'social distancing', consider a new project from the Campbell County Extension Service.

Although some parks may be closed due to the quarantine efforts, the surrounding trails are still open and are the perfect chance for you to get some fresh air and exercise and explore our beautiful county.

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The Campbell County Trail Passport is a compilation of trails across Campbell County. Organized by the Campbell County Extension at UK, this nifty website lists all the trails in Campbell County with useful maps that also include the levels of difficulty for each trail. Ranging from easy to more difficult, there are trails for everyone.

Highland Hills Park, Fort Thomas

There is even an interactive component to the trails. The Campbell County Trail Passport encourages hikers to share their photos by emailing campbell.ext@uky.edu or on social media with #hikecampbellcountyky.


A Wide Variety:
There are so many different types within just one county. DJ Skully, an agent with UK and the Campbell County Extension, helped to flesh out the details for the Passport project and he said the wide variety of trails is his favorite part."Bellevue Beach Park has the diversity between different areas, you have different areas from urban to environmental focus at the Campbell County Environmental Education Center or in Melbourne, a fully immersive experience. There is a different flavor and culture that I didn't know existed in our county."


Bellevue Beach Park, Bellevue

How Did This Idea Come About?
It was born from a dedication to the great outdoors and several environmental departments working together. Fort Thomas Recreation's assistant Katie Spicer, who likes to hike, brought the idea up to DJ. "I loved the idea but thought 'let's do it on a larger scale'. Campbell County is unique with a lot of municipalities. Every group has people so we got those people together to discuss physical wellbeing exploration and wellbeing with an urban and rural interface."

Katie thought of the idea because of her love of the outdoors. "Hiking is important to me. I really enjoy it and I like to find different places to go and different terrain to try. I was interested in the idea of people sharing their favorite places to hike and sharing all the trails in Campbell County. I thought it needed to all be in one location and easy to find. The idea of kind of putting a challenge on it is to get encourage people to get out."

Katie knew DJ would have the right connections to bring the project to life."The one central organization is the Campbell County Extension Office and DJ is very knowledgeable in all the different outdoor areas that we have and the different parks. He has great contacts too and he was all in. He made things happen. He's a wealth of information!"

So, in February 2019, there were several meetings with recreation departments across Campbell County's municipalities and the Passport project was born. "We had four meetings to discuss the parks and trails. Kyle Snyder with Kenton County created digital maps for 18 parks, a total of over 40 miles of walking and hiking trails. It's so neat."





Designing the Maps:
After the trails were identified, it was up to Kyle Snyder, a geospatial data specialist with the LINK-GIS Partnership/PDS Planning and Development Services of Kenton County. It was his job to bring the trails to life in a graphic design type of way so that the information is easily accessible and understood...but the design part had its own challenges. "These parks are all quite different in size (AJ Jolly is 950 acres and several parks are just 2 or 3 acres)," said Kyle.
"Representing each park on 8.5 x 11 maps with the same look and feel was a challenge. 


Frederick's Landing, Wilder

"The trails are the key assets that we highlighting. Representing them in a way that will help the park visitor use the trail system was the most important aspect of the map. There are other things like access to water, parking  and  restrooms that are also important  and we represented these features as well."  


Halloween in the Time of Quarantine: Dress Up on March 31

Love those costumes!
Reese Dunbar and Mayson Gindele pose during the 'Trunk or Treat' they organized last Fall.
They created the event for foster children at DCCH. Great job girls!


By Jessie Eden

We could all use a little cheer right now. If you're a diehard Halloween fan like me, you'll be really excited about this idea!



In order to have a little fun during Quarantine, there is a new effort to celebrate 'Halloween' on Tuesday, March 31 by dressing up in your favorite costume and taking photos.

If the idea of TWO HALLOWEENS sounds amazing to you, thrown on that costume on Tuesday and share a photo with us via Facebook, Twitter or email it directly to me; jessicaCeden@gmail.com.

We'll put together a photo gallery to share with everyone.

Happy Quarantine-o-ween!





Thursday, March 26, 2020

19 Cases of COVID-19 in Northern Kentucky; How to Stay Healthy at Home Outside


Today at his 5:00 p.m. press conference, Governor Andy Beshear reported that today, March 26, was the single largest increase of positive Covid-19/Coronavirus test in one day. There are now 248 total positive tests, 50 new cases today, including two in Boone County and the first positive test to a person in a nursing home, a 90-year old male in Perry Co.

"People of all ages are getting the Coronavirus. It's important for our young adults and teens to understand that they can get this. You are not invincible," said Gov. Beshear.

Mayors and County Judges have been asked to shut down congregations in public areas.

"We are going to do what it takes. We do not want to do this, but large groups are congregating and we cannot let that happen. Do not try to be the exception. Let's make sure that we are committed and not think that we are above this."

Four additional cases of COVID-19 have been identified in Northern Kentucky, for 19 total cases. There are 12 cases in Kenton County, 3 cases in Campbell County and 4 cases in Boone County.

“It is important to remember that while cases will continue to be identified in Northern Kentucky through testing, there are more individuals in our community with symptoms who have COVID-19, but have not been tested,” says Dr. Lynne Saddler, District Director of Health.

“Because we are seeing COVID-19 in Northern Kentucky, the safest place you can be right now is healthy at home.”

Although we need to stay at home to prevent the spread of COVID-19, this does not mean we need to stay inside. With warmer and nicer weather on its way, we all want to get outside. Getting fresh air and exercise can help us stay healthy, but we also need to stay safe, and practice social distancing. Here are some tips for staying healthy at home while outside:

- Remember to practice social distancing, and keep six feet of distance from others.
- Children can play outside, but they should not be playing games with other children that cause them to be in close contact (i.e. sports activities and other games).
- Going for a walk, run, hike or a bike ride is fine, but stay six feet away from others.
- Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue or your elbow. Throw the tissue away in a garbage can.
- Wash hands with soap and water for 20 seconds immediately after coming inside.

At this time, there are a very limited number of tests available, and health care providers and systems are carefully determining who needs to be tested. If you develop a fever, cough or difficulty breathing, stay home and call your health care provider. If it is a medical emergency, call 9-1-1. If you are ill and in isolation at home, learn how to prevent the spread of the virus in your home at https://bit.ly/3dBMfCO.

For individuals with no or mild symptoms, testing is not recommended.

NKY Health has been actively responding to the COVID-19 crisis for months. They continue to provide guidance and collaborate with local officials, health care providers, first responders, schools, businesses, social service agencies, and others, as well as respond to a high volume of questions from the public.

They are also coordinating the distribution of personal protective equipment from the Strategic National Stockpile to health care providers and first responders. Additionally, staff track testing conducted throughout Northern Kentucky, and provide instructions to contacts who have had exposures to cases.

For more information, visit our COVID-19 page on www.nkyhealth.org or www.kycovid19.ky.gov. You can also call Kentucky’s COVID-19 hotline at 1-800-722-5725. The Governor’s press releases are available here: https://governor.ky.gov/news

NKY Plumbing Company Owner: Tradesmen and Women are Proud to Wear the Badge of "Essential Workers"


By Brady Jolly 

These past few weeks have been tough for everyone. We’ve all had to accept the new normal in our everyday life. Anxiety is high on this invisible virus we are fighting and the headlines change minute by minute.

When the severity of the situation became clear, I found out that my company, Jolly Plumbing, would be classified as an essential business. But I have to be honest, I did have the thought, is my plumbing business really that essential? Just the other night in one of Governor Beshear’s recent 5 PM updates he used the term life sustaining business instead of essential. Again I thought “People probably don’t see plumbing as life sustaining.”

You see, even an owner of a plumbing company who grew up around the trades can forget about the importance of our services. Try going without hot water or a toilet for a few days. Or heat. Or electric. All the basic necessities that we take for granted every day. It’s part of what separates us from a third world country. What helps us fight things like COVID-19 and any other virus or disease you can name. Just like our frontline workers in healthcare, our talented and dedicated tradesmen and women are absolutely essential. Yes, even life sustaining.

Are they concerned about being out? Absolutely. They have every right to be, but in a lot of ways I’ve seen a shift in our team's mentality from it’s “just a job” to now it’s a duty to be working. These past two weeks are the proudest I have ever been of the Jolly team. They are out there everyday risking their health for the health of our region. This is the reason we started the The Journeyers, a project that promotes the trades as a viable career. It’s times like now, when you see the pride they take in the important work they do, that really validates that sentiment.  



We recently made badges for our employees with “Essential Employees” at the top. Sure, it’s a precaution in case they get pulled over for being out but really in my eyes, that’s a relic I hope they keep for the rest of their lives. I hope they show it to their grandchildren one day. When everyone else stayed home, they went out. That’s what they do because without them life as we know it would stop.

We wont stop,

Brady

Brady Jolly is the owner and CEO of Jolly Plumbing, Jolly Cleaning and Restoration, Jolly Property Maintenance and the Jolly Event Center based in Wilder, KY. 


Ky. AG Subpoenas Amazon Third-Party Sellers for Price Gouging During Pandemic


FRANKFORT, Ky. (March 26, 2020) -- Attorney General Daniel Cameron today issued subpoenas to six third-party sellers in Kentucky who used Amazon's online platform to engage in suspected price gouging during the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.




The sellers allegedly engaged in the price gouging of essential emergency and medical supplies, including hand sanitizer and N95 respirator masks.  Some sellers inflated the price of these items by as much as 1,951 percent when marketing to consumers.

"Kentuckians who purchase essential medical and emergency supplies should feel confident that they are not being taken advantage of because of the health crisis," said Attorney General Cameron.  "The egregious actions of these third-party sellers will not be tolerated in Kentucky, and the subpoenas we issued should serve as a warning to anyone who tries to illegally profit from COVID-19.  I am grateful to Amazon for working with us to stop these predatory practices by third-party sellers."

Amazon worked with Attorney General Cameron to identify the top price gougers based in Kentucky.  Over half of the sellers were served with cease and desist orders, and investigations are continuing.

Since Kentucky's price gouging laws went into effect in early March, Attorney General Cameron has worked diligently to protect Kentuckians from predatory pricing during the COVID-19 health crisis.  In addition to today's actions, Attorney General Cameron:

Activated the Consumer Protection Hotline (1-888-432-9257) for suspected price gouging complaints.

Launched Kentucky's first online price gouging complaint form (ag.ky.gov/pricegouging) to make it easier to report suspected price gouging.

Worked with Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery to return medical supplies from a suspected price gouging scheme to law enforcement and first responders.

Requested that Gov. Beshear renew the executive order activating Kentucky's price gouging laws.
KRS 367.374 outlines the sale or rental of goods and services when a state of emergency is in effect, and states that no person shall sell or rent an item for a price "which is grossly in excess of the price prior to the declaration."  Goods and services included in this prohibition include consumer food items; goods or services used for emergency cleanup; emergency supplies; medical supplies; home heating oil; building materials; housing; transportation, freight, and storage services; and gasoline or other motor fuels.



When filing a price gouging complaint, consumers are encouraged to report as many details as possible about the suspected price gouging, including the name and address of the seller/retailer, the item purchased, the price of the item after the emergency declaration, and the price of the item before the emergency declaration, if known.  If a refund is sought, consumers should also keep receipts from the transaction to show proof of purchase.

The Attorney General can seek restitution for victims of price gouging and may seek civil penalties against sellers of up to $25,000 for multiple price gouging violations within a 24-hour period.

Report suspected price gouging to the Attorney General's office at ag.ky.gov/pricegouging or by calling 1-888-432-9257.


Southside Deli - "The Best Little Deli In Town" - Offering Carryout Options

Owner John Beatsch and Deli Manager Sue Martin have put a lot of hard work into making Southside the "best little deli in town."
(Pic: FTM file)

An important note in regards to the Coronavirus Carryout guidelines:

Southside Deli is still offering several carryout options! 
If you need to get out of the house, go pick up some food and have a picnic. 

"We have cold sandwiches daily 8am - 8pm and hot lunches weekdays 11-5," said Sue Martin, Deli Manager. "We are extending our fish fry 11am - 8pm we have homemade salmon patties and fish set up." 

---

Southside Deli has been around since a lot of us can remember, and maybe that's because it opened in 1973. It was Convenient Food Mart then. Owned by John Beatsch's brother-in-law, Beatsch was a stock boy there when he was 17.

The store eventually became Ameristop until it went independent in the 1980s. After working his way from stock boy to assistant manager, Beatsch eventually bought the store with a partner in 1998, and has now owned and operated Southside since 2013.

Also Southgate's fire chief, Beatsch says owning the "best little deli in town" is something he never thought of 44 years ago. But, it has been an adventure, a hometown staple, years of meeting and making friends and serving the community some of the best eats around.

"We have everything you find in a bigger grocery store," said Beatsch, "Just smaller amounts."

From pet, medical and cleaning supplies to ice, beer, lottery tickets and more, Southside really is a one-stop shop for anything you may need.

"The deli is what drives us," said Beatsch. "We put a lot of effort into it."

Southside employee Kaitlyn Dischar prepares a sandwich.
(Pic: FTM file, 2017)


You may be surprised what this little deli has to offer - a great assortment of deli meat and cheeses including local Bluegrass meats with excellent prices, pre-packaged sandwiches and salads to grab on the go and a small selection of fresh produce.

Also a surprise - on any given morning, Southside serves up 120 to 200 homemade breakfast sandwiches - sausage, egg and cheese; Gliers goetta, egg and cheese; and egg, bacon and cheese.

"People that try them usually get addicted to them. Occasionally, we have people complain they are gaining weight. We don't make them healthy," Beatsch joked. "We make them good!"

Sue Martin, deli manager since 1998, said before she started working at South Side she often wondered how fresh things would be in a small deli. A former deli manager at Remke, Martin is proud to say people rave about the pimento, chicken and ham salads and other meals that are made fresh daily.

In addition to breakfast, the deli serves daily lunches and hot dinner specials from 4 p.m. - 7 p.m. Their homemade salads are delicious as well as coneys, 3-ways, chili cheese fries, wings, cheeseburgers, grilled chicken, rib and fish sandwiches.

Southside is not just a store with deli sandwiches and a place to get your morning coffee and doughnut, the selection is huge. They even cater box lunches and party trays that can feed up to 100.

"I love working here," said Martin. "John gave me an opportunity years ago to work hours that allowed me to spend time with my son."

Alongside Martin, Southside has 18 employees, many of which have worked there for several years.

Fort Thomas resident, retired CSX Railroad employee and U.S. Navy Veteran Robert Small who passed away in 2017 worked at South Side Deli since the 1980s until six months before his death at age 83.

Martin says it's a place where everyone knows your name - a staff that is like family with a good hometown feel.

Southside Deli Hours: 

5 a.m. - 11 p.m., Monday - Friday

6 a.m. to 11 p.m., Saturday - Sundays

The deli counter is open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.


Missing a Long Cincinnati Tradition Today

Sports to Return Eventually

Cincinnati Reds pitcher Luis Castillo (58) poses with Fort Thomas Matters sports reporter G. Michael Graham.
Opening Day was postponed today because of the spread of Coronavirus.

By G. Michael Graham

For years, I have known about the great tradition in the Queen City.

A year ago, I did not go to the game. But I had the opportunity to be in downtown Cincinnati for Opening Day for the first time in my life and I've been a Reds fan for 42 years strong.




If you have not been in the heart of it, it's hard to understand. But I had never seen downtown as crowded full of fans donning the Red and White of the Cincinnati Reds. It also helped that the Reds beat the Pittsburgh Pirates, 5-3 thanks mostly to a three-run home run from pinch-hitter Derek Dietrich.

Today, I miss it. I had my picture shown above taken with Reds ace pitcher Luis Castillo at Redsfest in December. I so thought I would see him pitch today.

Student Showcase Features Highlands’ Successful Robotics Team


The Highlands High Robotics Team pose with their robot. They earned fifth place against 61 teams in a recent regional competition.
 
By Robin Gee

Students and faculty from Highlands High School’s robotics team introduced their current robot and presented on their successful and popular program at the March Fort Thomas school board meeting.

This year was the best year for the team yet in regional competition. They competed in the Miami Valley Regional at Wright State University against 61 teams taking fifth place and making it into quarter finals. 

Start your home search now!

Highlands senior Magnus Sieverding introduced the team’s latest robot, which is about the size of a small go cart and weighs more than 100 pounds. "It always amazes me, when I say robots, people think of the LEGO® robots, the little robots that drive around on the table. People are always shocked at the size of these robots, and when you have six of them on a tennis court-sized field, it does sometimes get very out of hand...that’s we have the bumpers," he said.

"Last year we only managed to make it to seventh place. Two places up is a huge deal for us especially this year with so many new members... Our drive team and our operators are just completely new this year."

The robot was given several tasks at the competition, so Sieverding and other students on the team demonstrated driving the robot to run, swerve and pick up balls, known as "power cells" and carry them to a bin. Later the robot had to climb a bar and lift itself up off the floor, no simple feat for a robot of its size and weight.

He explained that in learning principles of robotics, size does matter. "Because these are so big, it’s real-world engineering. I want to go into engineering, aerospace engineering specifically, and this was great hands-on experience. I immediately fell in love with this. I was able to work on this robot, to get hands on, to experience what it’s like in the competition under stress and under time restrictions." 


Highlands robot in action, lifting itself up on a bar after gathering and depositing power cells.

 

Support of the team has been vital


Highlands teacher Tim Auch thanked the school board and the parents for their support of the team. He also thanked the Fort Thomas Education Foundation for a grant to support the team’s efforts.

"This was a team effort and everybody contributed. That’s why we have been so consistent and why we finished the best we’ve ever finished in a qualifying round. I’m very proud of this team and what they did," he said.

He explained that the team uses space in the Launch building to practice. It takes about seven weeks to build the robot and two weeks of practice with the robot. As with most technology, it’s never smooth sailing. Students learn how to identify and fix problems, sometimes on the spot. In fact, Sieverding described the team at the competition as similar to a pit crew.



First started 20 years ago, the robotics team has grown steadily and attracts a wide variety of students from all areas of interest. Mike Smith, one of the team’s mentors, has been with the program for about four years. "There all different kinds of students who would be interested in this. We see a lot of student athletes. It’s very competitive. We see students all over the range of STEM programs, science, technology, engineering," he said.

Sieverding praised Auch and team mentors Mike Smith and Bob Steller for their guidance and for developing a program that gives students the rich opportunities to build skills in robotics, which he deemed nothing less than "magnificent."

School board member Karen Allen noted that Steller has been with the program from the start and said the program would not be as vibrant as it is without his dedication and support.

Student team members presenting included: Lance Borden, Owen Borden, Lexi Crawford, Gannon Ehrman, David Erion, Logan Lutenkoff, Liam Morris, Declan O'Dea, Magnus Sieverding, Stefan Urbanek and Noah Wormald.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Here's a List of What Will Stay Open: Governor Orders Non-Essential Businesses To Close Thursday

Gov. Beshear signs an executive order to close all non-essential businesses.
Here is a list of what WILL be open...


By Jessie Eden

Governor Andy Beshear announced in his press conference on Tuesday that further steps would be taken to ensure that Kentuckians were following safe social distancing practices. As a result, he announced that all non-essential businesses would be ordered to closed at 8 p.m. on Thursday night.



More clarification on the executive order came out Wednesday around 12 p.m. in the form of a PDF released on Gov. Beshear's Facebook page. 

Essential businesses may remain open...but every other business must close per the Governor's order. We have included a full list of what CAN REMAIN OPEN below.

Essential businesses are defined as those that are 'Life-Sustaining' businesses. Below you can read a section of the his order that outlines this. (Read the full details of his executive order here..)





The businesses that can stay OPEN include: 

  • grocery stores
  • drug stores and pharmacies
  • banks
  • hardware stores
  • agricultural operations
  • gas stations
  • media
  • businesses needed for transportation 
  • logistics 
  • shipping
  • delivery and pick-up
  • housing, building and construction
  • laundry
  • financial services
  • home-based care and services 
  • professional services
  • manufacturing 
  • other businesses key to national interests or life-sustaining goods or services
  • businesses covered under the federal critical infrastructure sector

You can read the entire executive order here.