Health

Kentucky will take its unemployment system offline for four days starting early Friday morning to try to interrupt an ongoing effort to hack into user accounts.

There will be no way to file new claims between Friday and Monday. Amy Cubbage, general counsel with the Kentucky unemployment office, said the shutdown will require claimants to reset login information, like PINs and passwords.

“You will not be able to file new claims or requests for benefits,” she said. “If you need to file a new claim during that time, we will be able to backdate that claim for you…No one will lose out on their chance to request those weeks of benefits.”

The current system requires claimants to use four-digit PINs. When it relaunches on Tuesday, claimants will have to register their accounts anew with new eight-digit PINs, which will be physically mailed to Kentuckians. Cubbage said she hopes most people will receive that mail by Tuesday or one to two days later.

New passwords must be at least 16 characters long. There will also be a new two-step verification process that requires users to confirm login attempts via email.

“We hate that we have to do this to make things more difficult, but these criminals are relentless,” Cubbage said. “They will not stop. The biggest issue we face now is stopping fraudulent claims and attempts to hack into the system. It takes time away from processing valid claims.”

Kentucky’s unemployment system has faced numerous attacks throughout the pandemic, including as recently as February. Though no claimant data was reported stolen, the system interruptions have presented obstacles to out-of-work Kentuckians who filed a record-breaking number of claims over the past year due to the pandemic.

Downward Trend In COVID-19 Cases Continues

Gov. Andy Beshear reported 645 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday.

The positivity rate also dropped to 2.81%, down from 2.87% on Wednesday. Beshear urged Kentuckians to continue getting vaccinated to prevent a fourth surge.

He said there are more than 11,000 appointments available next week at the Cardinal Stadium mass vaccination site, which opens Monday.

“When you look back on our first case being March 6 of last year and here we are just barely into April, it’s incredible,” Beshear said. “[We have] three highly-effective, safe vaccines, and 1.5 million Kentuckians having received at least their first shot of hope.”

Beshear also reported 16 new deaths. No new deaths were reported through the state’s auditing process. More than 350 Kentuckians are currently hospitalized with COVID-19, 102 are in the ICU and 53 are on ventilators.

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