State records 58 Covid-19 deaths today, a record, but Beshear cites state’s low death rate, says more masking may be helping

Gov. Andy Beshear, at top near right, and Lt. Gov. Jacqueline Coleman, at bottom near left, in a vaccination video with counterparts in Ohio, Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin and Minnesota.

By Melissa Patrick

Kentucky Health News
Gov. Andy Beshear announced another record day of Covid-19 deaths on Thursday, 58, and announced that an American flag will be placed on the state Capitol grounds tomorrow in honor of each of the 3,301 Kentuckians who have died with the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.
“It is staggering,” Beshear said of the death toll, adding later, “These are all children of God, loved by their family, needed by their community; deeply, deeply missed.”
Beshear attributed Thursday’s high death count to the recent high number of cases brought on by holiday gatherings, noting that it’s important to remember that deaths always follow cases.

“Take 1 percent of however many cases that we have in a week, and we can expect to have that many deaths three to four weeks afterwards,” he said. “It means what we don’t do has real consequences. And thus far, it’s had at least 3,301 consequences, and that’s not even taking into account long-term health effects that we may not see.”

The 58 deaths recorded Thursday, of which 51 were confirmed and seven were probable, pushed the state’s seven-day average to 37 and the 14-day average to 32.7, both new highs. Deaths are not recorded until the cases are reviewed by a committee of experts, so death counts reported by local or district health departments run many days ahead of the state count.
Though Kentucky deaths from Covid-19 are likely to set a record this month, Beshear said the state’s 1% death rate from the virus is much lower than the rates of the nation and the world.  He said the U.S. death rate is 1.7% and the world’s is 2.2%.
“This, I think, is a testament to providing education to Kentuckians about this virus and about what to do if you contract it,” Beshear said. “It’s a testament to our testing program . . . and it is a testament to our health-care workers who have done a better job than the country and the world at keeping our people alive.”
Vaccines: Beshear spent a good bit of the week’s last news conference calling on Kentuckians and health-care providers to be patient during the vaccine rollout, saying over and over that demand remains far greater than supply and that there is no way the state can get doses to the 1,500 providers who have registered to administer vaccines.
“We can’t give vaccines we don’t have,” he said.
Beshear asked the federal government to double Kentucky’s allocation of vaccine on Jan. 19, the last full day of the Trump administration. He said he had not received a response.
Kentucky is seeing “mass outbreaks” in state prisons in Oldham and Morgan counties, actively infecting most of the inmates in those institutions, John Cheves reports for the Lexington Herald-Leader. Further, Kentucky ranks fourth among the states for inmate mortality, trailing only New Mexico, Nevada and Michigan, according to The Marshall Project, which researches criminal justice.
The state Department of Corrections told Cheves it is monitoring the outbreaks “very closely.” Advocates for inmates are calling for vaccines, noting their confinement makes them especially vulnerable.
Asked more than once about the state’s plans to vaccinate inmates, Beshear said he is “evaluating” the question but “haven’t made a decision there yet.” Certainly, he said, prisoners would not go before individuals over 70, K-12 personnel, individuals over 65 and some essential workers in key areas.
Those groups make up Phase 1B of the rollout. “Right now, we haven’t made a decision about prisoners in terms of whether they will or will not be in group 1C,” Beshear said.
The daily vaccine report shows that 250,867 of the 450,175 doses received in Kentucky have been administered, with only 41,788 of them given in long-term care facilities by CVS Health and Walgreens, as part of a vaccination program overseen by the federal government.
The only counties with incidence rates over 100 daily new cases per 100,000 residents in the past seven days are in the counties that have prison outbreaks, Oldham and Morgan: 175.8 per 100,000 and 143.8 per 100,000 respectively.
Daily numbers: The share of Kentuckians testing positive for the virus in the past seven days is 11.05%. This rate has declined nine of the last 11 days since setting the record of 12.45% on Jan. 10.
Beshear announced 3,728 new cases of the virus, the lowest Thursday in over four weeks. This brought the seven-day average of new cases to 2,975, the first time it’s been below 3,000 since Jan. 5, the day before the single-day case record of 5,742.

Beshear said he was pleased with the decline in cases and praised Kentuckians for what he said seemed to be an uptick in the number of people wearing masks.

“So please everybody, keep doing a good job, keep wearing your mask,” he said. “I do think we have seen a real uptick in people wearing masks, and that’s a really good thing that may well explain what we’re seeing in the numbers right now. So please, everybody keep that up. I’m very proud of what we’re seeing on mask wearing right now.”
The Lake Cumberland hospital region continues to report that its intensive care units are is nearly full, at 97.8%. The easternmost region, from Lee to Pike counties,  also reports its ICU beds are 89.71% full. The Northern Kentucky region is reporting high numbers of patients overall, 81.14% of bed capacity.
Peggy Lynn Davis

Beshear honored the life of Peggy Lynn Davis of Ashland, a 67-year-old health-care worker who died Friday of Covid-19. She is survived by her husband, Robert, her three sons, Bobby, JP and Wesley, and her three grandchildren.

“Her family said Peggy will be remembered as a selfless mother, not just to her family, but to everyone she cared for throughout her life,” Beshear said. “Today our thoughts and prayers are with Robert ,Bobby, JP and Wesley, and to them to her entire family, all those grandkids, we are so sorry. It shouldn’t have happened. We will all work harder.”
In other coronavirus news Thursday:
  • The 58 fatalities were an Adair County woman, 99; an Allen County woman, 78; an Allen County man, 64; a Boone County woman, 68; a Caldwell County man, 84; a Campbell County woman, 83; a Carroll County woman, 82; a Carter County man, 72; two Daviess County women, 45 and 82; four Daviess County men, 76, 84, 89 and 92; two Fleming County men, 76 and 81; two Floyd County women, 77 and 91; a Franklin County woman, 89; a Gallatin County woman, 82; a Gallatin County man, 69; a Grayson County man, 71; a Hancock County man, 66; a Hardin County man, 77; a Harlan County woman, 67; a Harlan County man, 64; a Hart County woman, 94; a Henderson County man, 61; a Hopkins County man, 84; seven Jefferson County women, 73, 78, 78, 79, 81, 84 and 91; four Jefferson County men, 31, 64, 88 and 92; three Kenton County women, 75, 77 and 78; a Kenton County man, 85; a Lewis County woman, 89; a Logan County man, 79; a McCracken County man, 93; a McCreary County man, 72; a McLean County man, 88; two Marshall County women, 60 and 91; a Martin County man,73; a Monroe County man, 73; an Ohio County woman, 80; an Oldham County man, 73; a Trigg County woman, 46; a Trigg County man, 86; and a Wayne County woman, 73.
  • Counties with more than 10 new cases were Jefferson, 604; Fayette, 230; Kenton, 162; Boone, 143; Hardin, 129; Warren, 126; Daviess, 125; Madison, 112; Campbell and Nelson, 79; Christian, 78; Laurel, 77; Pulaski, 74; Bullitt, 64; Franklin, 58; Oldham, 57; Barren, 52; Scott, 49; Henderson, 48; Jessamine and Knox, 46; McCracken, 44; Boyd, 42; Pike, 40; Shelby, 39; Meade and Whitley, 37; Calloway, 35; Grayson and Montgomery, 34; Marshall, 33; Harlan and Washington, 26; Rowan, 25; Logan, 24; Breckinridge and Graves, 23; Hopkins and Wayne, 22; Clay and Russell, 21; Hart and Ohio, 20; Bell, Boyle, Clark, Larue and Woodford, 19; Taylor, 18; Floyd, Letcher, Marion and Union, 16; Anderson, Carter and Green, 15; Bourbon, McCreary and Todd, 14; Adair and Casey, 13; Carroll, Garrard and Perry, 12; and Bath, Bracken, Estill, Johnson, Morgan and Trigg, 11.
  • Kentucky hospitals reported 1,604 patients with Covid-19 Thursday, 395 of them in intensive care and 209 of those on ventilators.
  • In long-term-care facilities, there were 76  new cases among residents and 55 in staff, for a total of 1,009 active resident and 521 active staff cases. Beshear said the state does not have data on the percentage of long-term-care staff who have agreed or declined to be immunized, but would check with Walgreens and CVS for that data.
  • Chris Larson of Louisville Business First explores the challenge of getting staff in long-term home facilities vaccinated for the coronavirus, noting that some facilities are requiring staff to get vaccinated and others are offering incentives. Betsy Johnson, the president of Kentucky Association of Health Care Facilities, told Larson that she hears that most facilities are offering incentives for their employees to get vaccinated, and that there is a real concern about those who are requiring it. “Workforce has always been a concern of ours,” Johnson said. “We’ve been very vocal about that. … This workforce issue is at a crisis point. So, if you start dealing with the issues with sticks and that means you’re going to punish people through termination… there’s a concern they would just quit.”
  • As part of a state broadband initiative, Lt. Gov. Jacqueline Coleman is asking every Kentuckian to take a free, anonymous internet speed test at before Feb. 18. The test will help the state see which areas don’t have access to the internet and which don’t have adequate internet speed, information needed as the state moves forward with its next phase in the initiative. People without home wi-fi access are asked to visit a location that offers free internet, to submit notice that their home address has no available service.
  • President Joe Biden signed several executive orders dealing with many aspects of the pandemic, The Washington Post reports. “They include the creation of a Pandemic Testing Board that can spur a surge in the capacity for producing coronavirus tests.” Other orders will spur research of treatments for covid-19; strengthen collection and analysis of data to inform the government’s response to the crisis; “and direct the federal occupational safety agency to release and enforce guidelines to protect workers from getting infected. Other aspects of the plan are intended to steer more money to states, which have complained they need more funding to carry out the work placed on them for testing, vaccinating residents and other functions,” the Post reports.
  • Unauthorized sharing of the University of Kentucky’s vaccine invitations leads to a “few hundred” people signing up improperly, Rick Childress reports for the Herald-Leader. UK officials told Childress that those who sign in without an invitation will be removed from the system.
  • Kentucky High School Athletic Association Commissioner Julian Tackett said that nearly one in four high school basketball games in Kentucky being canceled so far this season because of the virus is good news, because that means schools are following the guidance, Jason Frakes reports for the Louisville Courier Journal.
  • Beshear and Coleman joined governors and lieutenant governors of Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin to encourage people to make a plan for how they can get the coronavirus vaccine once they are eligible. Watch the 2 minute 14 second video message from the governors here:
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