A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Beshear reports 797 new COVID-19 cases on Friday; new steps coming if numbers don’t decrease

Gov. Andy Beshear reported the second-highest daily total (797) of new cases of the novel coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) in Kentucky on Friday. That number includes 19 new cases from children under 5.

“Today we are reporting what I believe is the second-highest number of new cases we have had since our first case on March 6, with 797 new cases of COVID-19. That brings our total number of cases to 29,931. What it means is we are continuing to see an increase and a growth that we absolutely have to stop,” said Beshear.

“And we’ll be watching these very carefully through the weekend and if we do not see the numbers come down, we are going to have a series of recommendations and steps that we’ll need to take next week.

Gov. Andy Beshear

“Let’s make sure that we’re more committed than ever. Let’s make sure that we are not violating these basic rules that we know can help us. Let’s make sure we realize that each and every one of our actions can impact someone else. And let’s just realize that this thing is escalating in Kentucky, that we’re seeing more cases than we ever imagined before. And now is the time for everybody to recognize the severity of the situation that we’re in.

“Let’s remember these families need our help. And because of the surge in cases, we’re probably going to see more families out there in the near future need our help. So let’s not get tired. Let’s light our houses up green. Let’s ring those bells every single morning at 10 a.m. People need us now more than ever not just to wear a facial covering. Not just to engage in social distancing. Not just to cut their social occasions at their home to 10 not just to cancel your vacation if you’re going to any state that has a 15 percent positivity rate. But also they need your compassion. And they need your help when they have suffered the worst.”

There were seven new deaths, bringing the state total to 691. The deaths include an 81-year-old man from Boone County; a 59-year-old woman from Hardin County; an 85-year-old woman and an 82-year-old man from Jefferson County; a 66-year-old man from Oldham County; and two women, ages 54 and 74, from Warren County.

“Again, how we manage this crisis, whether we can bring down cases is going to determine how many lives we lose,” said Beshear. “It’s going to determine what economic impact we have going forward because our reopening and our economy are now tied to how well we deal with this virus. And it’s going to be directly related to when we can get our kids back in school for in-person classes.”

As of Friday, there have been at least 574,233 coronavirus tests performed in Kentucky. The positivity rate currently stands at 5.28 percent, the highest ever reported in Kentucky.

At least 7,396 Kentuckians have recovered from the virus.

Ernst & Young help with unemployment claims extended

Beshear announced that he is extending Ernst & Young’s contract to help process unemployment claims for another five weeks, after the firm met and exceeded expectations in July.

“When we announced the contract with EY three-and-a-half-weeks ago, I said I hoped that we could get through 50,000 claims. As of yesterday, EY had helped with more than 56,000 claims, with two days to go on the current contract,” he said.

He added that the number of Ernst & Young employees will decrease during the additional five weeks of the $4.4 million extension and that the new contract and the original contract with Ernst & Young would not impact the state’s normal budget.

“The renewed five-week contract and the original contract are both coming from our CARES Act funding and not the General Fund,” said Beshear.

Finally, Beshear emphasized that the partnership with Ernst & Young has helped state government employees assist more Kentuckians in-person and has led to much faster resolution of claims.

“If our staff were to drop everything and only work on the issues EY has been working on, it would have taken three months we think to do the work that they have done to date. That means in-person services would have stopped and we would’ve fallen further behind,” said Beshear. “But this new contract is going to continue to help us catch up, not just on initial claims where we are doing much better, but those issues that arise with the second and third payments where people may have made an error in requesting those. There is a significant amount of those out there and we think we can move through them very fast.”

Since the pandemic began, there have been more than 1 million claims filed for unemployment insurance, paying out more than $3.23 billion to Kentuckians since March.

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