Federal declaration helps local governments, benefits expanded


FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ) – The federal disaster declaration offers financial help not only for the state but also for local governments to help cover costs of response to coronavirus, Gov. Andy Beshear explained Saturday evening.

The major disaster declaration issued by President Donald Trump broadens access to the public assistance program statewide to pay for emergency protective services not covered by other federal statutes.

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The declaration also allows state and local agencies to recover expenses related to the response to the COVID-19 outbreak, Beshear said.

Some examples of services covered include emergency medical care, medical sheltering, personal protective gear, law enforcement and communications, as well as the purchase and distribution of food, water, ice, medicine and other consumable supplies.

The governor’s request for individual assistance and hazard mitigation programs are currently under review.

The federal Coronavirus, Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, or CARES Act,  which was just signed into law and applies to every state, provides wide-ranging benefits to all Kentuckians, Beshear said.

In particular, it provides a variety of assistance to Kentuckians whose livelihoods have been harmed by the coronavirus outbreak and response.

“I signed an agreement with the Department of Labor that provides for us to raise the maximum weekly benefit by $600, increase benefits weeks by 13 additional weeks, fund unemployment insurance for individuals not typically eligible and finally allows states to expand workshare programs, Beshear said.

Deputy Secretary for the Education and Workforce Development Cabinet Josh Benton said his department was working to address issues that some contractors have reported.

Independent contractors are able to file for unemployment insurance benefits, Deputy Secretary Benton said. We are fixing the process on the back end. We are still processing those claims and they will be paid for those.

Beshear again urged all Kentuckians who qualify for unemployment benefits to file a claim.

Eric Friedlander, acting secretary of the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, said the administration also was working to keep Kentuckians covered for health care needs.

“We are going to make sure we get Medicaid coverage to as many people as possible,” Friedlander said.

The federal aid declaration is retroactive to Jan. 20, 2020.

Federal funding is available to commonwealth and eligible local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations on a cost-sharing basis for emergency protective measures (Category B), including direct federal assistance under Public Assistance, for all areas affected by COVID-19 at a federal cost share of 75 percent, according to a federal government press release.

Additional designations may be made at a later date if requested by the state and warranted by the results of further assessments.