FRANKFORT, Ky. (FOX19) - Since March 16, Kentucky has processed more than 550,000 unemployment claims and paid out almost $1 billion to those who have lost their jobs in the COVID-19 pandemic.
The figures are according to Josh Benton, Deputy Secretary for the Kentucky Education and Workforce Development Cabinet.
The “vast majority” of those who have applied for unemployment insurance have receive their payment, Benton said Friday.
At the same time, Gov. Andy Beshear said “tens of thousands” of Kentuckians haven’t been helped yet, adding the state’s unemployment office is working to identify what is holding up those claims.
“We feel we are really close to clearing those things up, and hopefully next week should be able to provide some really good news to those folks who have been waiting too long,” Benton said.
Benton detailed improvements in the unemployment claims process, saying the unemployment office can now answer 50,000 calls per day and process an average of 300,000 claims per week.
Beshear said during his Friday media briefing he believes the virus in the commonwealth has plateaued.
Hospitalizations and death counts dovetail with that analysis. Nine new deaths were reported Friday, bringing the state’s total to 200, a tally Beshear described as “far less than we though the would have lost to date, but still too many.”
Of those 200 deaths, nearly half -- 91 -- comprise deaths in long-term care facilities.
Meanwhile, the number of patients in ICUs around the state climbed just one from Thursday, now tallying 164, a figure Beshear called “stable.”
Some 303 patients are currently hospitalized with COVID-19 in Kentucky.
Beshear also announced Friday he had committed the sentences of 352 more Kentucky inmates convicted of state crimes deemed at-risk of COVID-19 according to the CDC.
The governor commuted the sentences of almost 1,000 inmates in state prisons in early April.
Similarly, Friday’s commutations arise from inmates convicted of non-violent, non-sexual crimes who are near the end of their sentences, meaning they have fewer than five years remaining on them.
The inmates are housed in local and county jails but are still charged with state crimes.
The same conditions apply to these inmates as applied to those from early April: they can’t have COVID-19, must self-quarantine for 14 days and cannot commit other crimes during their release period.