A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Gov. Beshear reports 1,880 new COVID cases, 36 deaths, lowest positivity rate since Nov. 6; and more

Governor Andy Beshear reported the lowest positivity rate since November 6 — 7.08% — and 1,880 new COVID cases and 36 deaths.

Here are the COVID-19 numbers:

New cases today: 1,880
New deaths today: 36
Positivity rate: 7.08%
Total deaths: 4,211
Currently hospitalized: 1,142
Currently in ICU: 278
Currently on ventilator: 156

Top counties with the most positive cases today are: Jefferson, Fayette and Kenton. Each of these counties reported 100 or more new cases; Jefferson County alone reported 283.

Kenton County reported 104 cases, Boone County 59 and Campbell 34.

Healthy at Home Eviction Relief Fund

In partnership with the Kentucky Housing Corporation (KHC), Beshear relaunched the Healthy at Home Eviction Relief Fund with an additional $264 million to keep Kentuckians safe and housed throughout the pandemic.

Starting Feb. 15, tenants who qualify can apply for rent and utility assistance to cover their past-due and future bills. If approved, lump sum, direct payments will be made to landlords and utility providers.

Unemployment Insurance Update

Amy Cubbage, general counsel for Gov. Beshear, updated Kentuckians on unemployment insurance (UI).

“Claimants who did not change their method of payment from debit card to direct deposit in their UI account were moved on Feb. 1 to receive their benefits by paper checks that will arrive in the mail,” said Cubbage.

If claimants still have a Band of America debit card, funds must be spent off the cards no later than Feb. 28. If there are funds on the debit card after Feb. 28, BOA will return those funds to the state and UI staff will send them back to claimants with a paper check.

If you received a paper check and believe you should not have received a check please send that check back to:

Office of Unemployment Insurance
Attention BPC
500 Mero Street 4th Floor
Frankfort KY 40601

Include your name, contact information such as phone number and email address and message that you never filed for UI.

IRS Guidance on 1099-G Reporting

The IRS will begin accepting and processing 2020 tax year returns on Feb. 12. On Jan. 28, the IRS put out a statement about claimants reporting their 1099-G wages.

“We have FAQ’s that should help you with 1099s on the homepage of the KCC website under Important UI Messages,” said Cubbage.

If claimants received an incorrect 1099-G, they should send an email to kyou1099@ky.gov.

They should provide their name as it appears on the 1099-G, the last four digits of their Social Security Number, a phone number, valid email address, company name and reason that 1099-G is incorrect.

Additional Fraud Enhancements Applications

“We have upgraded to a national fraud enhancement application called Benefit Audit Reporting Tracking System (BARTS) which enhances the protection of not only the claimant as well as the state from fraudulent claims,” Cubbage said. “We are launching a new application to assist people with their identity verification next week. This is another way we are enhancing our efforts to combat fraud that is happening across the nation.”

New User Friendly Interface Being Tested

“UI information technology staff have been working tirelessly on a new claimant experience for the UI system,” Cubbage said. “A group of selected claimants will be testing the new interface and giving us feedback next week. This is not a new UI system, but an enhancement to the welcome screens the user sees when they first log on to their account to make it more user friendly. Proposals are currently being reviewed for a new UI system.”

Broadband Speed Test Update

Lt. Gov. Coleman reminded Kentuckians to take the state’s broadband speed test, which will assist the commonwealth in its efforts to provide broadband internet connectivity to every Kentuckian.

Kentuckians can visit speedtest.ky.gov to take the free, anonymous, 30-second test.

Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) Reminder

“The FAFSA is required for students to be eligible for federal Pell grants and student loans. Kentucky has consistently been above the national average for FAFSA completion. Last year, Kentucky ranked 13th of all states in completion percentage,” said Lt. Gov. Coleman. “However for the class of 2021, we are down 19% compared to last year.

“The numbers are even lower for low-income students, schools with high minority populations and rural communities. As a teacher and school administrator, I cannot overstate the importance of completing these financial aid forms. This decrease in FAFSA applications could lead to a decline in students seeking higher education this fall.”

Financial aid is available for 2-year and 4-year colleges. There is no downside to applying – the FAFSA is free, it takes 30 minutes or less to complete and there is an 85% chance applicants will receive some form of financial aid. In order to apply, click here. For help getting started, contact KHEAA outreach counselors here.

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