Beshear Announces 807 New Covid Cases, Urges Precautions During Derby Week
Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear reported 807 new cases of coronavirus during his Tuesday briefing.
“Today’s report is one of the highest Tuesdays that we’ve had,” he said.
That brings the state’s total number to at least 49,185. The governor said of the newly reported cases, 150 of them were positive results for people age 18 and younger. He also reported 15 new deaths, raising the state’s death toll to 948.
With the Labor Day holiday and Derby weekend approaching, the governor again urged Kentuckians to wear face coverings.
“This isn’t about Democrats or Republicans,” he said. “It’s about basic science. It’s about basic facts that say you will be better protected and you’ll be able to protect other people.”
The governor said the state will extend its partnership with Ernst & Young to continue to help process unemployment insurance claims through the end of the year. The state began working with the firm in July. The governor claimed that, since then, EY has helped the state with more than 141,000 claims and he anticipates the extension will allow them to process another 70,000 claims still waiting to be adjudicated.
Labor Cabinet deputy secretary Amy Cubbage said this new contract will cost about $4.9 million, and will be paid for with CARES Act funds.
This “will cut the time to issue the pandemic-related backlog of adjudications by approximately half,” Cubbage said. “This will allow our staff in the Labor Cabinet to keep pace with the new claims that are being filed and make quicker fixes to all of the continuing claims that unfortunately get hung up in our system.”
It’s been a bumpy road for Kentucky’s unemployment insurance office since the pandemic put many out of work starting in mid-March. It was already overdue for updates prior to shelter at home orders, and the influx of claims bogged the system down even more. Then, it’s been hit with controversy over the quiet firing of the former executive director of the office, Muncie McNamara, and reports that the state violated federal policies in an attempt to get payments out quicker, as KyCIR and WFPL reported recently.
Cubbage said the system needs a “complete overhaul… estimated to cost about $60 million.” But the funds originally earmarked for this have been diminished, so “we don’t expect to have that full $60 million in our pocket,” she said, hoping they can secure $20 to $30 million by the end of the year to put out requests for proposals.
“We can look and see what bids we get back and to take the money we’ve got and try to piece it together as best as we can,” she said.
Protests and Breonna Taylor Investigation
When asked whether he’d considering sending the Kentucky National Guard to Louisville for the Derby, in response to demonstrations, Beshear said the Guard is typically present during Derby time, “about 200 plus,” and he’d consider sending more if needed.
“We haven’t agreed to any specific plan at the moment, but if it helps for public safety at a time when otherwise we could see violence, making sure that protesters and counter-protesters can stay separated and peaceful that’s something we’ll consider,” he said.
He said he’d also be open to sending the Guard to Louisville when the attorney general or the FBI release their results from their investigation into the police killing of Breonna Taylor.
“We want to make sure that if the Kentucky National Guard is called, that their mission is appropriate, that the decision making always stays within the Guard and they’re utilized in an area that fits their skill and experience,” he said.
The governor said he will not attend the famous horse racing event at Churchill Downs on Saturday because “if we’re asking the people of Kentucky to watch it from home, I’m going to watch it from home too.” Last month, Churchill Downs announced this year’s Derby would be held without fans. He said there will be some kind of virtual presentation from him.
Shortly before, the governor had also said he’d embrace a special session of the legislature on issues like police reform “if we have good pieces of legislation,” something reportedly being considered by the state senate majority leader.
“[But] we need a little bit of truth here in that we’re not going to be able to fully address this until we get a decision in the Breonna Taylor case… the longer it goes on, the more of this we’ve seen,” Beshear said.
Kentucky’s attorney general, Daniel Cameron, recently tweeted that his team met with the FBI to review the ballistics report, but they don’t have any plans to make an announcement on the case this week.