Health

Gov. Andy Beshear says that Kentuckians who still haven’t received unemployment benefits but applied in March can expect to hear back from the state next week.

Kentucky has received a record number of applications — more than 500,000 filed since the pandemic began.

Beshear said the state is working to upgrade its computer system to be able to process more requests and expects “significant progress” next week.

“This is a tough time for everybody. The number of claims has been greater than ever in our history. If you signed up in March and you haven’t been helped, that is absolutely unacceptable,” Beshear said.

The state has hired more than 1,000 people to staff the unemployment call center.

Beshear announced 171 new coronavirus cases in Kentucky on Saturday, for a total of 3,905. There were 5 new deaths, for a total 205.

During Beshear’s daily press conference on Saturday, a small group could be heard chanting outside of the state Capitol to protest Beshear’s restrictions that have closed businesses during the pandemic.

Kentucky is set to relax restrictions on some health care providers next week. Diagnostic radiology, in-person doctor visits and pre-anesthesia testing appointments will be allowed starting Monday.

Beshear says a broader reopening of health care providers and other business will take place in the coming weeks, but that “the virus sets the timing.”

“While I hope we find out we are on the decline, we just have to make sure we make these decisions right. It is both in our health and safety interests, and it’s in our economic interest,” Beshear said.

Beshear says that before he reopens Kentucky’s economy, the state needs to show a consistent decline in coronavirus cases, more expansive testing and more availability of personal protective equipment, especially in businesses.

He said that until a coronavirus vaccine or treatment emerges, people need to expect some restrictions will be in place.

“Our goal is to build out that infrastructure in a way to where we can get back to doing a lot of things even though the world looks a lot different,” Beshear said.

Kentucky will have eleven drive-thru testing sites open next week. There will be two sites in Louisville, two in Lexington and one in Bowling Green, Cadiz, Hazard, Hopkinsville, Mt. Vernon, Murray and Owensboro.

Beshear said that the Kroger-sponsored site in Louisville’s Shawnee Park is booked up next week, but people can apply for the following week starting Wednesday at 5 pm.

Beshear also said the Kroger-sponsored testing site in Bowling Green is also full during its initial Tuesday-Thursday hours, but will now be open on Friday as well.

Ryland Barton is the Managing Editor for Collaboratives.