Positivity below 10%, other numbers also continue slow decline; jobless claims updated

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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ) The state’s positivity rate has fallen below 10% for the first time since Dec. 31 and Monday’s number of new coronavirus cases was also the lowest for a Monday since Jan. 4.

“Our cases are way too high, but I think when you look at this it shows how important the steps we took are and how important the ability to be able to take steps is when you are facing exponential growth in cases,” said Gov. Andy Beshear said during his daily briefing. “We believe that this decline is real, not just a result of maybe fewer tests happening, because we know the positivity rate is also going down.”

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As of 4 p.m. Monday, Jan. 25, Beshear reported the following COVID-19 numbers:

New cases today: 1,268
New deaths today: 39
Positivity rate: 9.93%
Total deaths: 3,460
Currently hospitalized: 1,539
Currently in ICU: 374
Currently on ventilator: 203

The hospitalization, ICU and ventilator numbers all have been slowly declining and capacity at hospitals is improving.

Top counties with the most positive cases today are: Jefferson, Fayette, Calloway and Kenton. Each of these counties reported 40 or more new cases.

To see a list of those reported lost to the virus today, click here.

The governor also said Kentucky is working to become the fastest state to vaccinate school staff so that all schools can safely reopen for in-person classes.

The Governor announced that Kentucky has administered 88% of all initial vaccine doses sent to the state’s vaccination program. Long-term care residents and staff in Kentucky are vaccinated through a separate, federal program run through CVS and Walgreens.

“Just last week, we administered the most doses we ever have, including second doses – 93,499 – and vaccinated the most people we ever have with initial doses – 82,511 people,” said Beshear. “The problem here is supply, supply, supply. We can vaccinate 250,000 Kentuckians per week, and we’re still building up our capabilities, but we’re only getting 56,000 new doses per week from the federal government.

“Fortunately, we believe that all long-term care facilities, skilled nursing homes and assisted living facilities have received their first doses of the vaccine. If there is any remaining facility that has not received it, call the Cabinet for Health and Family Services and we will make sure to raise that with CVS or Walgreens so we can correct it immediately.”

This Thursday, the Governor will provide an update on how Kentuckians in Phase 1A, 1B and 1C can sign up for an appointment at new regional Kroger vaccination centers as well as other partner locations.

The announcement will cover the regional centers the state is setting up in partnership with Kroger, including how people can get appointments, when appointments might be available, and other key issues. The centers will open Feb. 1, even though it could be sometime before the centers reach their capacity in terms of being able to vaccinate a population that numbers an estimated one million people, the governor said.

“We need four times the amount of doses we are getting, at least four times,” Beshear said.

“Supply is THE challenge, THE challenge,” Beshear stressed.

“I’d like to see the federal government flex its muscle to get production up to where it should be,” the governor continued.

Amy Cubbage, general counsel for Beshear, updated Kentuckians on total unemployment insurance claims filed, total claims pending, $300 payments, 1099s, UI payment debit cards and fraud reporting.

Cubbage said 1,542,008 unemployment claims have been filed, including duplicates, in Kentucky since the beginning of the pandemic. There are 40,748 pending claims with no fraud or identity issues. Another 47,000 are pending with potential fraudulent elements.

In total, there are approximately 665,000 unique claims representing about 600,000 claimants, Cubbage said.

Cubbage said if claimants payments are delayed because they had to set up a new Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) claim, they will still get $300 for all the weeks they qualify for PUA.

Office of Unemployment Insurance (OUI) programmers are working on programming for how PUA claimants with backdated weeks claim those weeks in an expedited manner, and I’ll have an update regarding how that programming in our next update,” Cubbage said.

“We have received questions about the amounts listed on the 1099s our 2020 claimants are receiving. Multiple claimants have been confused by the total compensation amounts listed in box 1,” Cubbage added. “Please note that the amount listed on box 1 is the pre-tax amount of compensation you were entitled to. If you chose to have income tax withheld, the amounts you received either through a direct deposit or on your prepaid card will be after-tax amounts. Kentuckians with questions on this topic can email KYOU1099@ky.gov beginning tomorrow.

“If you are still receiving payments on a debit card, payments to that card will end this week. You will have until the end of February to spend any balance on that card. If you do not update your profile with a bank account before your next payment issues after the end of the debit card program, you will get a paper check. Please make sure we have your accurate mailing address uploaded if you will be getting a paper check. For new claimants who filed after Jan. 1, 2021, you should have only had the option for a direct deposit or paper check. This only affects those who chose a prepaid card prior during 2020.

“Finally, I want to warn Kentuckians that we have had an uptick of fraudulent claims. If you receive a letter from OUI regarding a claim for yourself or one of your employees and you or the employee did not file a claim, please email UIFraud@ky.gov and we will flag the claim and make sure nothing is paid. If you are concerned about identity theft, please check out the resources on the Kentucky Attorney General’s website.”

Kentucky Broadband Speed Test
Lt. Gov. Coleman reminded families to take the Kentucky Broadband Speed Test, a crowd-sourcing project that will gather data from Kentuckians needed to expand internet home access for distance learning, telework and telehealth. Kentuckians can take the free, anonymous speed test from Jan. 19 to Feb. 18 here. To learn more, see the full release.

“Gov. Beshear and I are committed to closing the digital divide for Kentucky families,” said Lt. Gov. Coleman. “If you don’t have internet access at home, we definitely need you to take part in this test! You can connect on any wireless network – at a business, local library or at a friend or family member’s house. You’ll choose ‘enter an address with no available service’ and after entering your home address you’ll identify the reason you do not have access at home.”

To view the full daily reportincidence rate map, information on testing locationsvaccinescontact tracingschool reports and guidanceguidance for health care providers and the White House Coronavirus Task Force reports for Kentucky and more, visit kycovid19.ky.gov.