During his evening address, Gov. Andy Beshear announced that unemployment benefits have been approved for small business owners, contract employees and others who have been impacted by COVID-19.

Beshear also reported that evictions are now prohibited in the state.

“I’m happy to report, that as of today, independent contractors, small business owners, substitute teachers, gig economy workers, childcare workers from churches, cosmetologists and anyone who has had to leave their job because of quarantine or paid leave now qualifies for unemployment in Kentucky,” Beshear said. “This means that so many of you who ,out there who were worried are now able to file, and we want you to.”

He said those workers who have already filed an application do not need to do anything at this time. He asked those who have not filed an application, to file them per the schedule previously released that is based on last names. People whose last names begin with the letters A-D should start their claim on Sundays. People whose last names begin with the letters E-H should start their claim on Mondays. People whose last names begin with the letters I-L should start their claim on Tuesdays. People whose last names begin with the letters M-P should start their claim on Wednesdays. People whose last names begin with the letters Q-U should start their claim on Thursdays. People whose last names begin with the letters V-Z should start their claim on Friday. People who missed their appointed day to file a claim can start it on Fridays.

“If your day has already passed, go ahead and try to sign up tomorrow,” Beshear said. “If your last name is coming up later in the week, please wait until that date. But this is important. Again, there is zero stigma, zero, to being on public assistance right now.”

The announcement came as Beshear reporting that there are now 198 cases in the state — 35 more than on March 24 — and a fifth person has died, a 75-year-old from Jefferson County.

Beshear encouraged people to be vigilant in adhering to social distancing requirements, saying the next two or three weeks will be “absolutely critical” in the state’s response to the virus.

“I’m telling you, if we can be really diligent, I can’t tell you that after two or three weeks that we’ll be able to stop. We probably won’t. But I can tell you that the next two or three weeks is going to make a huge difference in people’s lives. So, do it for the people you love and care about, but do it for everybody else, too,” Beshear said. “I’ve said multiple times that this is the ultimate test on whether we’re good people — and I know we are — and whether we’re willing to be a good neighbor, and I know we are. So, this is it. This is our time, and we absolutely must pass this test.”

He reported that one of the new cases was a person who traveled to Florida on spring break and came back with the virus. He said traveling like that puts everyone else at risk.

“Kentuckians shouldn’t be traveling right now,” he said.

He reported that the state is working with a partner to provide drive-through testing in the state, saying that when those facilities open, they will be open only for specific people initially.

“Now, it’s going to start very limited,” he said. “We’re going to start, hopefully, on Monday with a single location that'll be for a very specific individuals that are showing symptoms. And it’s going to be proof of concept and provided that, that proof of concept works, we believe we will have at least a couple more open, again, to limited populations at the start, next week, and we may be able to expand it further from there.”

He said he hopes to make that announcement tomorrow.

Beshear also mentioned an executive order he signed that requires law enforcement to cease serving eviction notices. An official explained that renters still owe their rent. Landlords, however, can’t evict them during the state of emergency.

“I’m asking everybody to be healthy at home,” he said. “Healthy at home, more so than any of us have done, over the next coming weeks, which means that we can’t kick people out of their homes. Not right now.”

Answering questions from the public and media, Beshear reported that Kentucky has about 1,300 Intensive Care Unit beds. He explained that the state is looking at using federal guidance to convert ventilators so that they may be used to benefit more than one patient simultaneously and he has reported the state is working to obtain more protective equipment for healthcare workers.

He said the state has confirmation of 3,300 COVID-19 tests conducted in the state and officials estimate 10,800 tests have been performed, explaining that private labs haven’t been providing that information to the state.

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