A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Al Cross: On Memorial Day, we will get to see a story that was almost never told

Fifty-one years ago last month, my Clinton County High School classmate Paul Conner and I got on a bus in Lexington for a 4-H trip to Washington, D.C., our first visit there. We rode up with his parents, Murl and Pauline Conner, whom I knew mainly as mainstays of the local Farm Bureau. I also knew Murl from my work at WANY in Albany, where we would often read a notice that he would be at the courthouse...

Health commissioner worried that too many Kentuckians think COVID-19 doesn’t pose danger

By Al Cross Kentucky Health News Dr. Steven Stack, the state commissioner of public health, said in an interview recorded Friday and broadcast Monday night that he fears Kentuckians aren’t taking the coronavirus seriously enough. “I’m very worried that the public is becoming comfortable that this is not a danger,” and does not realize that only about 5 percent of Kentuckians...

Trendline for new coronavirus cases remains up, but Beshear says two Louisville facilities skew numbers

Kentucky Health News chart shows trendline of new cases since May 3 (where there were 173) is up. By Al Cross Kentucky Health News As Kentucky prepares to allow all retail stores to open Monday, its two-week trend of new coronavirus cases is up, contrary to the federal guidelines that say such reopening shouldn’t begin unless cases have shown a downward trajectory for the previous two weeks. Gov....

Al Cross: As Trump’s virus work drags them down, Republicans seem frantic

Republicans facing an election amid a century-rank catastrophe made worse by their president are throwing anything they can against the political wall to see what sticks. Some of what they’re throwing is pretty slippery – trying to discredit experts, shifting the blame to China, or, well, just making stuff up. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had been a voice of reason, repeatedly volunteering...

Beshear discusses how to deal with ‘very scary virus’ as businesses reopen; says there are enough tests

By Melissa Patrick and Al Cross Kentucky Health News As a shortlist of Kentucky businesses plan to reopen next Monday, Gov. Andy Beshear spoke at length Monday about how he would proceed with a slow, gradual restart, noting that some states were seeing a spike in coronavirus cases and COVID-19 deaths as they relaxed restrictions. Such increases have been projected by the Trump administration, according...

Al Cross: McConnell risks riling public employees with pension, bankruptcy remarks

Ever since he became leader of Republicans in the U.S. Senate, Mitch McConnell has used that post as his most consistent argument to Kentucky voters that they should re-elect him, because it lets the state “punch above our weight” to get federal favors. It’s been an effective pitch in his two re-election campaigns since, and it has the added advantage of being true: Among the states, Kentucky...

As Kentucky prepares for businesses to reopen, analysis shows state’s shutdown saved lives

By Melissa Patrick and Al Cross Kentucky Health News Gov. Andy Beshear has announced details of the first broad phase of his plan to re-open Kentucky’s economy in May, while saying child care, restaurants, and businesses that require increased human contact are not yet on the list of what will be allowed to open. “I hope everybody also sees that these are cautious steps that are going...

Grayson County story of a rumor is cautionary tale for small towns in uncertain times of COVID-19

By Al Cross Kentucky Health News When a rumor becomes a news story, it often has a larger story to tell. Such is the case in Grayson County, population 27,000, where local officials held a news conference to quash rumors on social media that an identified man who had tested positive for the coronavirus was not isolating himself at home, when in fact he was as soon as he got the test result. The posts...

Latest models for Kentucky COVID-19 impact vary; estimates how counties will deal with disease

By Al Cross Kentucky Health News Projections of COVID-19’s impact on Kentucky continue to vary, but one model has begun to estimate how individual counties will deal with the disease. Those projections rely on data that is even more scant than the earlier models, but they are being updated frequently and are intended to be a guide to local and state officials in planning for the expected surge...

Kentucky forms task force to deal with coronavirus in nursing homes, other long-term care facilities

By Al Cross Kentucky Health News State officials have formed a task force to advise them about how to prevent the coronavirus from devastating the state’s nursing homes and other long-term care facilities, which have already suffered 18 deaths from it. “This is our challenge,” Gov. Andy Beshear said at his daily briefing. “This is where the coronavirus is devastating every state...

Preliminary projections of covid-19’s impact on Kentucky offer differing takes on state’s performance

By Al Cross Kentucky Health News How many Kentuckians will be infected with the coronavirus? How many will develop its disease, covid-19? How many will die from the disease? And how does Kentucky compare to adjoining states? The answers to those questions are still unclear, mainly because testing for the virus is still very limited, handicapping scientists who track diseases. A group of epidemiologists...

Al Cross: McConnell again makes a boulder out of a pebble, then makes political hay of crisis

It’s a time for us to be apart literally, and a time to be together figuratively. But politics long ago moved mainly to the figurative battlefield, and we shouldn’t expect its divisiveness to take a holiday even in a deadly pandemic. And now the crisis itself is an issue. Two weeks ago, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s campaign manager was calling on his likely Democratic opponent, Amy...

Estimates of COVID-19’s effects on health-care system, and lives, show Ky. compares favorably

By Al Cross Kentucky Health News Kentucky compares favorably to its major bordering states in the first public estimates of the impact of the coronavirus on the U.S. health-care system and the number of deaths expected from the COVID-19 disease caused by the virus. However, some estimates for Kentucky have wider possible ranges than for the other states, illustrating the shortage of data that public-health...

Al Cross: Governor Andy Beshear is showing us what he’s made of; it’s sterner stuff than you thought

In a crisis that could be a catastrophe for millions of Americans, politics may seem irrelevant. But politics probably made the coronavirus crisis worse, and yet it could prevent catastrophe for many. And crises can change politicians, and reveal things about them, so this space will keep tabs on those we have chosen to lead us; if that isn’t your cup of tea right now, please move on. First, the...

Clinicians suspected Kentucky’s first case of coronavirus, but patient didn’t qualify for testing

Crystal Miller, head of the health department serving Harrison County, at a press conference Saturday. Others, L to R: Gov. Andy Beshear; Health Commissioner Steven Stack; Harrison County Judge-Executive Alex Barnett; Cynthiana Mayor James Smith; and Mark Newman, head of UK HealthCare. (Photo from KHN) By Melissa Patrick and Al Cross Kentucky Health News Kentucky found its first case of the new coronavirus,...

Al Cross: List of possible constitutional amendments lengthens (includes new taxes); only four allowed

“No man’s life, liberty or property are safe while the legislature is in session.” That quote, one of many falsely attributed to Mark Twain, apparently originated with Gideon Tucker, a New York lawyer, politician and newspaper editor, in 1866. It’s an exaggeration, but a useful reminder that our nation and its states are republics – in which we, the people, invest in their elected...

Al Cross: McConnell surely cannot approve of Trump’s inappropriate behavior; why not say so?

Last Friday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell scheduled a press conference in Louisville, which he had to cancel because his flight from Washington was canceled, his office said. Too bad; there are many questions that could have been asked and can still be. Here are a few. What did you think of what President Trump said at the National Prayer Breakfast about Mitt Romney, the only senator to vote...

Commentary: Graham casts ‘mainstream media’ as primary evil; not true really — but all have sinned

By Al Cross Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues “The Lies of Mainstream Media” is the headline over the cover story in the February edition of Decision magazine, which touts itself as “the evangelical voice for today.” Its editor-in-chief is Franklin Graham, head of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and son of its namesake and founder. The story by...

Al Cross: ‘Modest’ or ‘moderate,’ Gov. Beshear’s budget plan is a small risk for him

The last time Kentucky had a governor of one party and a legislature of the other party, the governor proposed increasing a relatively new 3 percent sales tax to 5 percent. Asked why he asked for a 67 percent increase, Republican Louie Nunn said something like, “You get in just as much trouble for stealing a sheep as you do for stealing a lamb, so just take the sheep.” In other words, if you’re...

Al Cross: We have waited patiently for the moment that Mitch McConnell would come to his senses . . .

More than once, this space has said Mitch McConnell would face a day of reckoning in his relationship with Donald Trump – a moment when the Senate majority leader would have to decide to maintain fealty to the president of his party or would say, at least to himself, that “enough is enough” when it comes to Trump’s use of the presidency to serve his personal interests. We thought the day might...