State nears COVID death, case milestones; more than $8 million in eviction funds sent

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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ) – Kentucky is on the verge of two new grim milestones with coronavirus cases, Gov. Andy Beshear said Thursday.

Amidst the dark statistics, the state has been able to provide some valuable financial assistance through the rent program/eviction avoidance program started in early September.

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The program, backed with $15 million in state funds from the federal CARES Act approved in April, started taking applications Sept. 8. In the three weeks since then, the program has committed $8 million, including $7.3 million to families at below the median income levels in the areas where they live.

Tenants and landlords both have to apply and so far, the the state has received applications from 3,776 tenants and 2,471 landlords.

The payments so far have included money for past rent and in some cases, advanced payment for one to two months, Beshear said.

For more information or to apply for the Healthy at Home Eviction Relief Fund, click here.

“I’m excited in a short period of time, we are helping out a large number of individuals,” said Beshear.

The state program is in addition to programs in Jefferson County as well as ones in Fayette and some other counties operated by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and social service agencies.

Meanwhile, the governor reported 17 new deaths Thursday, which was the fifth-highest single-day total. The numbers pushed the state’s total to 1,191, meaning the state likely will pass the 1,200 mark by the weekend.

The deaths open October on a dark note just one day after the state recorded its single-highest month for deaths. Beshear already has said he expects October will top September.

The deaths included a 63-year-old woman from Boyd County; a 72-year-old woman from Calloway County; two women, ages 29 and 67, from Clark County; an 84-year-old woman and two men, ages 71 and 76, from Jefferson County; a 92-year-old woman from Lewis County; a 94-year-old woman and a 88-year-old man from Mercer County; three women, ages 82, 93 and 95 from Scott County; and two women, ages 84 and 90, and two men, ages 76 and 85, from Warren County.

“Nine hundred and ten cases is hard, but today we’re reporting 17 deaths. That’s pretty sad when 17 is just the fifth highest day,” said Gov. Beshear. “By the end of the week we will probably hit 1,200. When we have a lot of cases, sadly a lot of death follows. There are 17 families who have been struggling before today, but today, let’s light our homes up green for them.”

The 29-year-old woman had other health conditions but was not living in a “care setting,” Beshear said.

The state also reported 910 new coronavirus cases, raising the state’s total to 69,728, just short of the 70,000 mark. Of those, 146 were in people 18 and under.

Among area counties, Madison reported 44, Laurel 24, Whitley 18 and Jessamine 11.

The positivity rate rose slightly to 4.11 percent.

“As we rocket toward the highest week we’ve had, we’ve got to do things differently. We can turn this escalation around,” Beshear concluded his briefing.

“If you want to be a hero in your own life, just wear a mask and stay six feet apart to help save a life,” added Dr. Steven Stack, the state’s public health commissioner.

Stack also highlighted where Kentuckians can find the K-12 COVID-19 dashboard and how to use it.

“This is where schools are supposed to go every Monday through Friday when school is in session,” said Dr. Stack. “This is only day four of this being rolled out, and we already have 1,454 schools who have reported data. In the last 24 hours we had 1,348 schools who reported data. So, thank you. The vast majority of schools are trying to comply and doing the best they can.”

Finally, Beshear and Dr. Stack announced that KDPH has added Florida to the commonwealth’s travel advisory due to the especially high risk of contracting COVID-19 in the state.

“Despite the fact that its rate is below 15%, as we are now going into fall break in many schools, and Florida has lifted just about every restriction that’s out there. It is a subjective decision that right now, going to the beach with 100% capacity in a restaurant is just as dangerous as going to some of the other areas that may have a higher positivity rate but have taken steps to lower the risk,” said Beshear. “Also, Florida right now is without any real mask requirements. We can’t keep our schools open if people go to the beach and they bring it back, and it spreads throughout the school.”

For 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.

Information about COVID-19 and schools also is being made available. To view the reports, click here for K-12 and here for colleges and universities.