Dystopian series ‘Watchmen’ leads all Emmy nominees with 26 Tuesday, Jul 28 2020 

The September 20 ceremony will air on ABC with Jimmy Kimmel as host.

        

Hoosiers React To First Day Of Indiana’s Mask Mandate Monday, Jul 27 2020 

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Indiana’s statewide mask mandate went into effect Monday, requiring Hoosiers to wear face coverings in a number of social settings.

Gov. Eric Holcomb announced the decision last week to require those over the age of 8 to wear face coverings while inside businesses, public indoor spaces, and outside at public spaces where social distancing cannot be done. Students and employees of schools will also be subject to the mandate.

On the first day of the official order, many people in southern Indiana seemed more than happy to comply while out shopping. Some approached business doors, only to turn back to their vehicle to retrieve a mask, though a few still entered without masks.


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Gov. Beshear Orders Bars To Close, Restaurants To Go 25% Capacity, Schools To Delay Opening Amid Rise in COVID-19 Monday, Jul 27 2020 

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Gov. Andy Beshear has ordered Kentucky bars to close and restaurants to go to 25% capacity for two weeks starting Tuesday, Jul. 28 at 5 p.m. to try to curve a rise in cases of COVID-19.

This is going to hurt a lot of restaurants, Beshear said Monday. But the White Houses modeling shows that this is absolutely necessary to control the spread at this time.

The restrictions do not affect outdoor seating for restaurants.


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Child Abuse Reports In Kentucky Are Way Down — Why That’s Not Good News Monday, Jul 27 2020 

Experts say the COVID pandemic is a “perfect storm” for child maltreatment. High unemployment, widespread social isolation, and rising rates of substance abuse are risk factors for child abuse and neglect. 

But reports of suspected child maltreatment in Kentucky have dropped dramatically since March. 

Child welfare advocates think that might be bad news. Due to social distancing policies prompted by the pandemic, children aren’t being seen by as many of the teachers, coaches, nurses, doctors and neighbors who typically notice and report signs of abuse. Some advocates are worried maltreatment could be increasing and the full extent of the problem might not be known for months or even years.

“It is not hyperbolic to theorize that given the stress, pressure and attendant trauma that many parents are experiencing these days, that the potential emphasis on ‘potential’ for even more abuse is very much in play,” said Terry Brooks, executive director of Kentucky Youth Advocates.

Between March and July, the state received 28,218 reports of suspected child maltreatment. That’s a 29% reduction from those same four months in 2019, according to data from Kentucky’s Cabinet for Health and Family Services, and 42% lower than 2017. 

Yet the number of victims reporting their own maltreatment to the state increased from last year, suggesting the actual incidence of child maltreatment might not be declining. 

Melissa Currie is a forensic pediatrician at the University of Louisville School of Medicine, where she works with Kentucky children to identify abuse cases. Her team saw “dramatically fewer” cases early in the pandemic, though case numbers have ticked upward over the last few months. 

Currie is skeptical that the drop-off in suspected child maltreatment reports means less abuse is happening. In the last several weeks, she and her team have seen a slight rise in severe cases requiring hospitalization. 

“If indeed abuse were going down, then we should also see a drop in the most severe cases,” Currie said. “We are seeing a steady if not slightly increased number of the severe cases. What that tells me is that abuse is still happening, and it’s still happening at the same rate or maybe a little more than it used to.”

Under Kentucky law, individuals who have “reasonable cause” to believe a child is abused or neglected must report that information to officials. Reports are investigated by the Department for Community Based Services and can result in criminal investigation, arrest, and prosecution.

Most of the drop-off in reporting came from schools, which closed statewide in mid-March. After districts transitioned to remote learning, students participated in academic work by filling out paper packets, attending online video conferences, or simply texting their teachers. For thousands of children, remote learning meant less supervision.

Between March and July, school personnel submitted 71% fewer reports of suspected child maltreatment than over the same four months in 2019, according to the data. That’s a drop from more than 7,000 reports down to just 2,068 reports this year. 

“For many kids, that’s their safe space. They might have a chaotic home life, but at school there’s routines and people who care about them,” said Jennifer Baumer Gerber, a middle school teacher in Shelby County. “It definitely weighs on you.”

Another concern is domestic violence. Shannon Moody, senior policy and advocacy director at Kentucky Youth Advocates, said there’s been a marked increase in domestic violence in Kentucky during the pandemic. “Even if a kid isn’t experiencing physical abuse, witnessing abuse is a trauma for them,” she said.  

Between March and May, the Center for Women and Families in Louisville received 30% fewer crisis calls than they received last year related to domestic violence and sexual assault. In the spring, “people were just trying to bide their time and stay safe,” explained Elizabeth Wessels-Martin, the Center’s president and CEO.

But as businesses began re-opening and perpetrators returned to work, victims of abuse started to seek help causing the number of intakes in the emergency shelter to “skyrocket,” Wessels-Martin said.

One sign of families and children in distress are calls for temporary shelter. United Way data of 211 calls for adults, children and families seeking temporary housing show a drop-off in some regions. Although such shelter requests don’t always involve children and can reflect a number of adverse circumstances such as weather emergencies or illness, as well as abuse and violence it’s one indication of possible family adversity.

Between March and July, calls for temporary shelter were 50% higher in the Southern Kentucky region and 32% higher in the Bluegrass Region of central Kentucky than over the same months last year, according to data from United Way. In the Metro region around Louisville, the United Way received nearly a third fewer calls for shelter. 

Allegations of suspected child maltreatment from law enforcement and courts typically the largest source of reports dropped a relatively modest 14% in 2020. Reports from anonymous sources dropped 27%, while reports from friends, neighbors and non-relatives dropped 15% from last year.

In response to questions, Susan Dunlap, a spokesperson for the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, said recent child abuse reporting is “consistent with this time last year.”She said the springtime reporting decline was affected by social isolation guidelines, and pointed out, while mandatory reporting laws bring more tips, her agency substantiates fewer than 50% of them.

Fall Reprieve No Guarantee

Typically, when children return to school in the fall, reports of suspected maltreatment spike. But as the second wave of COVID infections swells in Kentucky, institutions that typically watch out for children might remain shuttered or close again, prolonging the information brownout. 

Experts say there’s no easy solution, since the problem is a consequence of social distancing policies intended to keep adults and children safe from the coronavirus. 

Currie, the forensic pediatrician, suggested individuals and institutions use video conference technology to put more eyes on children. For example, instead of checking in by phone, individuals and their institutions should use video calls as much as possible, she said.

The Department for Community Based Services has been conducting monthly caseworker visits with children and families by videoconferencing. But at many schools, students “participated” in remote learning without needing to see or even speak by phone to a teacher

Individuals can also make a difference by checking in on relatives and friends. Without individual effort, ongoing child maltreatment might continue.

“I don’t think we’ll have a full answer until kids come back into centers and agencies and schools,” said Moody. “And even then we might not know.”

To report child abuse or neglect, call one of several toll-free numbers: (877) 597-2331; (877) KYSAFE1; or (800) 752-6200. Reports can also be filed online at prdweb.chfs.ky.gov/ReportAbuse/, which is monitored during business hours on weekdays.

In case of an emergency, call 911.

The post Child Abuse Reports In Kentucky Are Way Down — Why That’s Not Good News appeared first on Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting.

Beshear To Announce New Coronavirus Restrictions Monday Sunday, Jul 26 2020 

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Gov. Andy Beshear says he will announce further steps on Monday to try to slow the spread of coronavirus in Kentucky. Beshear made the statement shortly after a meeting in which a White House coronavirus adviser recommended that the state close bars and reduce restaurant capacity.

In recent days, Beshear has repeatedly warned that he would take action to close bars and reduce crowds at restaurants if the number of COVID-19 in the state continued to rise.

“I will not let us become an Alabama, a Florida or an Arizona. We’ve got to take proactive steps and that’s what we’re trying to do,” Beshear said on Sunday during a press conference.


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Beshear Again Announces Second-Highest Daily Coronavirus Case Count Saturday, Jul 25 2020 

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Kentucky has once again broken its record for second-highest daily cases of the coronavirus. In an email statement, Governor Andy Beshear announced 836 new cases on Saturday. That brings the states total cases to 26,764.

The highest one-day total of cases in the commonwealth happened last Sunday, when the governor announced nearly a thousand new Kentuckians had tested positive.

Saturdays email also listed five additional COVID-19 deaths in Kentucky. That brings the states death toll to 696.


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Beshear Again Warns Of Potential Restrictions As COVID-19 Cases Continue To Rise Friday, Jul 24 2020 

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Gov. Andy Beshear closed out a week of briefings by reporting the second-highest single day increase in coronavirus cases.

Those 797 new cases contributed to a positivity rate of over 5%, he said. That measure is used to determine the rate of spread of the virus. And 5% is the threshold at which public health experts and the White House recommend putting restrictions in place.

Beshear hinted that if numbers don’t decrease or flatten over the weekend, the state may implement new restrictions next week. He said the White Houses recommendations including limiting restaurant capacity to 25% and closing bars.


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Impact of coronavirus on Louisville restaurants Thursday, Jul 23 2020 

In the past 4 months, restaurants have seen a huge loss of revenue because of social distancing, limited capacity, and a quick flip to carry out only.

        

More people in Jefferson County have been infected with COVID-19 than initially thought, UofL study says Thursday, Jul 23 2020 

After testing 2,237 people at random, new data from the University of Louisville's Co-Immunity Project says in Jefferson County, the discrepancy is clear.

        

‘Mulan’ pushed back again while theaters beg studios to release blockbusters Thursday, Jul 23 2020 

Disney also pushed back numerous releases, including films in the 'Avatar' and 'Star Wars' franchises, back by a year Thursday.

        

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