KENTUCKY (WEHT) – Governor Andy Beshear delivered his first Team Kentucky update of 2023 on Thursday. During his press conference, the governor discussed a variety of topics, including the following:

Here are the highlights from the January 5 Team Kentucky update.

Brent Spence Bridge Corridor Project

Governor Beshear joined President Joe Biden and Ohio Governor Mike DeWine on Wednesday in Covington to highlight one of the largest federal infrastructure funding awards in history. Last week, Governor Beshear announced the Brent Spence Bridge Corridor Project secured more than $1.6 billion in federal grants to allow a companion bridge to the west of the Brent Spence Bridge to be built without tolls.

“This project has been talked about for years and we are the folks who are working together in a non-partisan way to actually get it done,” said Beshear.

State of the Commonwealth

Governor Beshear delivered his State of the Commonwealth address on Wednesday night where he declared that Kentucky is strong and the future is bright.

Beshear addressed the challenges from the pandemic and natural disasters and highlighted the success Kentucky has seen, including a two-year period for economic development and job creation, record-high budget surpluses and the longest period of the lowest unemployment rate in state history. Governor Beshear also unveiled his 2023 legislative plans for economic growth.

To read more about Beshear’s State of the Commonwealth address, click here.

Winter weather

Beshear said Kentucky Emergency Management is continuing to work across the commonwealth on response and coordination efforts regarding the arctic storm and recent heavy rainfall that has led to localized flooding.

Ohio County declared a state of emergency on Wednesday due to weather. The state of emergency issued by the governor regarding the arctic front is still in effect, which allows the state to respond as needed.

Four Kentuckians lost their lives as a result of the arctic weather, according to a release from the governor’s office.

Eastern Kentucky flooding

According to a release from the governor’s office, 262 families impacted by the eastern Kentucky flood are currently housed in travel trailers and Kentucky State Parks now house 53 people. Beshear said waterway debris removal is nearly complete and just under 1,100 state- and county-owned bridges have been inspected by the Transportation cabinet.

The Team Eastern Kentucky Flood Relief Fund has raised over $13 million from more than 41,000 donors.

Health update

Governor Beshear said the spread of influenza is continuing to increase in Kentucky. Eight children have died from the disease, making it the deadliest flu season for Kentucky children according to a release from the governor’s office.

Governor Beshear said the most recent COVID-19 data shows the virus is increasing nationwide. The CDC estimates the XBB.1.5 omicron subvariant is now causing an increasing proportion of cases in the United States.

Beshear said RSV activity appears to declining in the state.

Team Kentucky All-Star

Governor Beshear named Mike Berry, the Secretary of the Tourism, Arts, and Heritage Cabinet, as this week’s Team Kentucky All-Star. The governor and Secretary Berry has helped Kentucky’s tourism industry rebound from the pandemic. Under his leadership, the commonwealth invested more than $88 million in the tourism industry and nearly $1.7 million toward the recovery of the arts industry.

“We are sad to see him go,” said Governor Beshear, “but we congratulate him on this new chapter. And today, I am proud to recognize him for his dedicated service and his many accomplishments,. Thank you, Secretary Berry. We appreciate your commitment to Team Kentucky and wish you the best.”

Lindy Casebier will take over the Tourism Arts and Heritage Cabinet in February