Governor Updates COVID and Unemployment Rates

Gov. Andy Beshear held news conferences on Thursday to address the latest pandemic rates and new historically low unemployment data.

Beshear reported that cases of COVID-19 have “picked up significantly,” but they are less tied directly to severe cases of the disease and hospitalizations. He said Kentucky is no longer leveling off, but instead, the commonwealth is seeing an escalation similar to other states across the country.

He and Cabinet for Health and Family Services (CHFS) Commissioner Dr. Steven Stack reported that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) composite map now shows 12 Kentucky counties in yellow, indicating medium levels of COVID cases. The 108 remaining counties are in the “good” category, although both Dr. Stack and Governor Beshear said they feel the CDC will update the map on Thursday night and place more communities in yellow.

They pressed Kentuckians to get vaccinated or boosted. “We should be mindful of what’s going on. We should be cognizant. We should make good decisions to protect ourselves,” Beshear said. “But we should not be scared because these numbers are staying low, which suggests that whatever we are dealing with now does not cause severe illness nearly at the level of what we dealt with before.”

Beshear also said Kentucky reported its lowest ever seasonally adjusted unemployment rate. According to the Kentucky Center for Statistics, 3.9% of Kentuckians were unemployed in April. That is the lowest rate recorded since the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics began reporting state rates in 1976.

Additionally, Beshear expects to announce members of the Governor’s Medical Cannabis Advisory Team next week. In April, he said he would create a team to research what his office could do to legalize medical marijuana after House Bill 136 stalled in the Senate in the 2022 Regular Session. The governor has already received legal briefings and suggested there is room to provide some version of legalization.