Economy Health

The Kentucky Office of Unemployment Insurance is reinstating work search requirements for residents seeking unemployment benefits.

The state waived work search requirements at the beginning of the pandemic to make the benefits process easier for out-of-work Kentuckians. Starting May 9, however, claimants will have to prove they are actively seeking employment to receive benefits.

Amy Cubbage, general counsel with the Kentucky unemployment office, said claimants will have to report at least one attempt to find work per week.

“You are allowed a reasonable period of time to find work that is comparable in pay and skill level to your most recent employment,” Cubbage said.

Cubbage said claimants who aren’t able to find comparable employment during initial searches may have to look for jobs that pay less or are located farther from their homes.  

Claimants should document details about their work search efforts, including the name of the business, the title of the position sought, and the name and title of the person contacted for the job, she said. 

Some won’t have to submit work search details: certain union members, students in training programs, those who have been laid off with a definite return date within 12 weeks of an initial claim, and those on a temporary leave of absence. More information on the work search requirement can be found at kcc.ky.gov.

Governor Urges More Kentuckians To Get COVID-19 Vaccine

Gov. Andy Beshear reported 628 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday. He said despite the low number of cases, variants of the virus could cause another spike if more Kentuckians don’t get vaccinated.

About 270 cases of variant strains have been confirmed in the state to date, including 250 cases of the B117 variant that originated in the United Kingdom. Beshear said the variants are more prevalent among people between the ages of 16 and 49.

“More people are getting sick in this group than ever before,” Beshear said. “Please don’t be casual with these out there, with the numbers you see and how they’re growing. We need you to get vaccinated.”

Nearly 1.7 million Kentuckians have received at least a first dose of a vaccine. Beshear said he will lift some restrictions once 2.5 million get a shot. But he said week-to-week vaccination totals are decreasing.

Last week, fewer than 85,000 doses were administered. Nearly 200,000 doses were administered the week of March 16.

“What that means is we’ve got over 550,000 vaccines right now out there ready for you to get,” Beshear said. “It has never been easier. Nobody has to wait anymore. Anybody over 16 can get them.”

Beshear reported eight new deaths on Thursday. Five of the deaths occurred in April, and three from previous months were found through the state’s auditing process.

Kentucky To Receive First Payment From PokerStars Lawsuit

Beshear said Kentucky will collect the first portion of money from the state’s lawsuit against PokerStars by May 14.

The state has been engaged in legal efforts against illegal online gambling sites like PokerStars since 2008. A dedicated lawsuit against PokerStars started in 2012. The state claimed the site had collected more than $290 million from illegal bets placed by Kentuckians between 2008 and 2011.

In December, the Kentucky Supreme Court upheld a judgment against the gambling site totaling more than $1 billion. Beshear said Thursday that a Franklin Circuit Court judge ruled the state can now collect $100 million of that judgment.

“PokerStars tried to take it to the Supreme Court to stop that, and they were denied,” Beshear said. “So we look forward, by May 14, to receiving the first $100 million from the judgement in this case, and we will continue to pursue other recoveries.”

John Boyle covers southern Indiana communities and health for WFPL News. He is a Report for America Corps member.