Kentucky Lt. governor talks unemployment, state response to coronavirus pandemic

Kentucky Lt. governor talks unemployment, state response to coronavirus pandemic

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear and his message of togetherness are becoming well-known across Kentucky.

But, there’s a lesser-heard voice, working just as hard in the fight against the coronavirus.

“My role in this is very collaborative," Lieutenant Governor Jacqueline Coleman said.

Lt. Governor Coleman has been working alongside Governor Beshear since taking the oath of office in December. One of her biggest responsibilities is serving as the secretary for the Cabinet of Education and Workforce Development, meaning she handles unemployment statewide and the problems that have gone along with it.

“Everyday, we’re working on our system to keep up with demand that we never thought we would see," Coleman said.

Since the coronavirus outbreak, the demand has been staggering. According to the governor’s office, the state has received 360,000 unemployment claims since March 22. Coleman told WAVE 3 News the unemployment hotline has received anywhere from 80,000-200,000 calls per day. Because of the increased demand, the state has added 1,000 employees, some re-routed from Beshear’s staff, to help process unemployment claims.

“All of the folks that we’ve brought over are working as hard as we can," Coleman said. "But, like most situations in this regard, we’re going to have a few processing issues that we’re going to have to take up.”

Coleman also acknowledged Kentucky needs more COVID-19 tests and N95 surgical masks. She told WAVE 3 News she and Beshear call companies every morning looking for ways to acquire more.

“We are working really hard to make sure that we can test people as effectively and efficiently as possible,” Coleman said. “It’s one of those things where, I mean seriously, it’s the first thing he does every single day is to look into testing and look into that equipment for our medical folks. And we continue to push.”

Before joining Beshear’s staff, Coleman was a teacher and assistant principal. She’s been using her knowledge in the classroom to shape the plan for statewide e-learning

“What’s going on in our schools right now is affecting almost every single family every day," Coleman said. "So I’m fortunate to be able to share that perspective with him.”

Coleman also knows what it’s like to be a mom. Her youngest child is just eight weeks old, and like many teachers and health care workers on the front lines, she knows it’s hard to balance your career with family time.

“I can relate to, I think, the concern that they have in their job and for the people they care for every day but also for the families they come home to every night," Coleman said.

Ultimately, as the fight against coronavirus presses on, Coleman told WAVE 3 News she’s preaching the same message as the man she works alongside.

“We are going to get through this together,” Coleman said.

Copyright 2020 WAVE 3 News. All rights reserved.