State: Pike business expanding, pandemic EBT catching up, COVID vaccine freezers being studied

FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ) – Gov. Andy Beshear announced Thursday the Abandoned Mine Lands Pilot Program awarded the City of Pikeville a $6 million grant for a new ‘spec’ building in the Kentucky Enterprise Industrial Park.

And while the construction has been under way since the summer, it already has attracted a tenant.

Wright Concrete & Construction Inc. of Pikeville will lease the building and use it for its headquarters.

That will immediately create 40 new jobs and 20 more jobs in the near future, Beshear said during his daily briefing Thursday.

Also Thursday, CHFS Secretary Eric Friedlander updated Kentuckians on the Pandemic Electronic Benefits Transfer (P-EBT) program that provides nutritional resources to families who have lost access to free or reduced-price school meals due to school closures.

Some Kentuckians enrolled in Medicaid who have been receiving P-EBT benefits are awaiting their new P-EBT card.

A vendor with whom the Cabinet for Health and Family Services is contracted to produce and provide P-EBT, Fidelity Information Services LLC,is working through a backlog to get these cards issued so Kentuckians receive their benefits as soon as possible.

This vendor works with other states, many of which were also issuing P-EBT cards.

This week alone, more than 100,000 cards were printed and mailed. Nearly a half-million cards have been mailed, with about 135,000 remaining, said Friedlander.

Children in Kentucky will receive their new cards by the end of the month.

Beneficiaries were auto-enrolled and do not need to make additional requests for these benefits.

Also, Beshear said the state is studying ways to meet the needs of rural medical facilities who might not be able to afford the $15,000 freezers that will be required to handle the coronavirus vaccine Pfizer is close to getting to the market.

The vaccine has to be stored at very low temperatures. The cost of the freezers has raised concerns the vaccine might not get to rural areas where many of the state’s most vulnerable residents live.

“We are working on the intense refrigeration issue. You can be assured we will make sure this is not just available in urban areas,” Beshear said, noting the state also is watching other vaccines that also may hit the market early next year.

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