A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Beshear reports 807 COVID-19 cases, 15 deaths; talks about census, voting, unemployment, more

Gov. Andy Beshear on Tuesday reported 807 new COVID cases and 15 deaths, bringing the state’s totals to 49,185 cases and 948 deaths. Among the new cases were 150 children 18 and under, which includes 24 children 5 and under. The youngest is just 27 days old.

Fayette County had 84 cases.

“The virus is certainly spreading more through our kids,” said Beshear. “That’s concerning. So keep getting tested. It helps us stop the spread, especially through our asymptomatic folks.”

Gov. Andy Beshear

The deaths reported Tuesday include a 78-year-old woman from Calloway County; two women, ages 71 and 85, and two men, ages 87 and 88, from Campbell County; a 73-year-old man from Fayette County; a 55-year-old woman from Grayson County; a 70-year-old man from Harlan County; a 77-year-old woman and an 83-year-old man from Jefferson County; two men, ages 73 and 81, from Lincoln County; a 79-year-old woman from Monroe County; a 67-year-old man from Owen County; and an 80-year-old woman from Pulaski County.

There have been at least 887,547 coronavirus tests performed in Kentucky. The positivity rate currently stands at 4.40 percent. At least 10,417 Kentuckians have recovered from the virus.

For additional information, including up-to-date lists of positive cases and deaths, as well as breakdowns of coronavirus infections by county, race and ethnicity, click here.

‘The Fast 4 at 4′

Beshear began Tuesday’s briefing by highlighting a variety of issues of importance to Kentuckians and the commonwealth.

He highlighted National Poll Worker Recruitment Day, established by the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, as Kentucky and other states face a shortage of people signing up to work during the coming general election. “In a normal year, nearly 15,000 poll workers are needed in Kentucky, and the need is even greater during COVID. Kentuckians are stepping up,” the Governor said. “We now have more than 3,100 signed up to volunteer. If you want to sign up, visit elect.ky.gov. If you’re healthy, if you’re in a place that can do this safely, you will be helping democracy.”

Beshear encouraged all Kentuckians to make a plan to vote, either by mail, in person during early voting or in person on Election Day. The Governor reminded voters they now can go to www.GoVoteKy.com to request an absentee ballot for the Nov. 3 general election, if they are concerned about COVID-19 and voting. “And to honor our poll workers, let’s make sure we show up and vote,” said Beshear.

• The Governor again spoke about the importance of every Kentuckian taking time to fill out a U.S. census form, stressing the once-per-decade count’s link to funding for schools and child welfare. “The dollars that help lead us into the future are in large part determined by the census. The number of people we have in Congress is determined by the census,” said Beshear. “It only takes a couple of minutes and it helps Kentucky and all of America.”

• Beshear offered a preview of some announcements planned for tomorrow. “Tomorrow we’re going to have a number of announcements about really exciting projects that invest in Eastern Kentucky that are going to help us make sure we emerge from this pandemic in a strong way and that we bring every part of this commonwealth with us,” said Gov. Beshear.

Processing Unemployment Claims

Beshear announced he again is extending Ernst & Young’s contract, which began in July, to help process unemployment insurance claims.

“Today, I’m announcing we will extend our partnership with EY through the end of the year,” the Governor said. “As a reminder, EY is one of the big four accounting and consulting firms and has significant experience in unemployment insurance claims. The firm has helped other states with UI problems and has the personnel, skill, experience and resources to help Kentucky get the job done.”

Beshear said that in nine weeks, EY helped Kentucky process more than 141,000 claims. By extending the contract through the end of the year, the Governor said officials expect to get through about 70,000 disputed claims awaiting adjudication.

Beshear was joined by Amy Cubbage, deputy secretary of the Labor Cabinet, who provided further details.

“The first phase of the contract was for a four-week term, and when that initial term ended successfully with the processing of approximately 61,000 initial and continuing claims, we extended the EY contract for another five weeks to help us resolve continuing claims,” Cubbage said.

She said the new contract is worth about $4.9 million.

Cubbage noted the original EY contract as well as the extensions all are being funded with money from the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act and would not affect the state’s normal budget.

She said that in mid-August Kentucky applied for and has been approved to use outside help like EY contractors to write letters of determination, a time-sensitive process that has slowed many claims.

“Kentucky is only the second state to turn to outside help to issue determinations,” Cubbage said.

She said EY will provide 100 staffers to assist in prepaing the written determinations for four weeks, and then 25 staffers for another 12 weeks.

“We believe this will cut the time to issue the pandemic-related backlog of adjudications by approximately half,” Cubbage said.

Dr. Stack Update

Dr. Steven Stack

Today, Dr. Steven Stack, commissioner of the Kentucky Department for Public Health, offered an update on the coronavirus in Kentucky.

“On the good news, the test positivity rate continues to be less than 5 percent,” said Stack. “But we still want to get it much lower than that.”

He said that despite that, the threat posed by COVID-19 remains significant in the Commonwealth.

“Cautionary news: Kentucky still hovers at a plateau of about 150 new cases per day per million people in the state,” said Stack. “At that rate, there’s a lot of disease spread widely throughout Kentucky. If we were to have it take off in an unrestrained manner, there’s a much bigger impact than there would be if we were at a lower plateau.

It’s absolutely imperative that you wear your mask, watch your space and wash your hands. And if you have symptoms or a high risk exposure, you should get tested.”

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