Beshear says Biden sending Ky. 17% more vaccine and feds will give 3 weeks notice of supply; Ky. finds cases of U.K. variant

Picture of a coronavirus. Text: Covid-19 update
By Melissa Patrick
Kentucky Health News

The federal government will be increasing Kentucky’s supply of Covid-19 vaccines by 17 percent, Gov. Andy Beshear announced Tuesday. He had asked the new Biden administration to allocate more doses to the state.

“That is a great start, especially for an administration just six days in,” Beshear said in a YouTube video after his scheduled news briefing was postponed to Wednesday.
He also announced that federal officials will now inform states three weeks in advance about the amount of vaccine they can expect, “guaranteeing a minimum amount of supply for three straight weeks. One of the tough things that we’ve been dealing with is only knowing on a Tuesday what we would have the next week and not knowing what we were having weeks after.”
Beshear said this advanced information will help both his administration and vaccinators plan better, and will help them get more people signed up for appointments because they will know what their supply is.

The governor also announced that Kentucky has confirmed its first two cases of the novel coronavirus variant first discovered in the United Kingdom, a mutant that spreads more aggressively. He said Health Commissioner Steven Stack would talk about it at Wednesday’s briefing.

Beshear reported 2,714 new cases of the virus Tuesday, which he said is slightly more than the 2,250 new cases reported last Tuesday, but lower than the 3,053 cases reported two weeks ago. That raised the state’s seven-day rolling average of daily new cases to 2,816, up 66 from Monday.

The share of Kentuckians testing positive for the virus in the past seven days is 9.63% and has dropped 14 of the 16 days since it set a record of 12.45% on Jan. 10.

Beshear announced 35 more Covid-19 deaths, 30 confirmed and five probable. That brings the state’s death toll to 3,495. Since last Tuesday, 328 deaths have been attributed to the disease. Beshear said the high death counts are the result of the “significant escalation that we faced leading up into November, and then probably some from that holiday bump.”
In Washington, President Biden said the government would buy 200 million more doses of vaccine, half from Pfizer Inc. and half from Moderna. He said that will give the country enough to fully vaccinate 300 million Americans by the end of summer or early fall. That nation has 331 million people. Each company’s vaccine requires two doses; a Johnson & Johnson vaccine nearing submission for regulatory approval requires one shot.
Meanwhile, both Biden and Beshear said it will be important for everyone to continue following the public-health measures that are proven to work, especially wearing a mask.

“We need you to continue to be really careful. Wear your mask; it’s working,” Beshear said. “We’re seeing numbers overall go down, but we’ve got to protect one another until we get this protection from the vaccine out there to everyone.”

Biden said, “The truth is, it’s going to take months before we get the majority of Americans vaccinated, months. In the next few months, masks, not vaccines, are the best defense against Covid-19.”

In other coronavirus news Tuesday: 

  • Today’s fatalities were an Adair County woman,74; a Carter County woman, 81; a Casey County man, 78; a Clay County woman, 87; two Crittenden County women, 76 and 86; a Cumberland County woman, 70; five Daviess County women, 75, 86, 89, 93 and 96; three Fayette County men, 81, 85 and 92; a Greenup County man, 74; a Hancock County woman, 87; a Harrison County woman, 84; a Henderson County man, 75; three Jefferson County women, 72, 78 and 86; a Jefferson County man, 92; a Laurel County man, 94; a McCracken County woman, 63; a Montgomery County woman, 67; five Ohio County women, 82, 86, 89, 92 and 92; a Todd County man, 84; and three Wayne County men, 70, 71 and 83.
  • Counties averaging at least 100 daily new cases per 100,000 residents in the past seven days are Hancock, 103.2 per 100,000; Hart, 102.1; and Butler, 102.0. The state’s overall incidence rate is 60.25 per 100,000.
  • Counties with 10 or more new cases were Jefferson, 440; Fayette, 186; Daviess, 119; Warren, 94; Kenton, 86; Pike, 76; Madison, 63; Nelson, 60; Campbell, 58; Floyd, Hardin and Pulaski, 48; Boone and Laurel, 46; Christian, 41; Jessamine, 39; Barren and Oldham, 35; Knox, 34; Scott, 33; Hopkins and Taylor, 31; Harlan, 27; Marshall and Whitley, 26; Boyle, Bullitt, Hart and Meade, 25; Franklin and Shelby, 24; Boyd, 22; Lincoln, Muhlenberg and Ohio, 21; Butler and Casey, 20; Clinton, 19; Allen and Martin, 18; Henderson and Logan, 17; Carter, Graves, Harrison, Johnson and McCreary, 16; Breckinridge, Fleming and Lewis, 15; Owen, 14; Green and Perry, 13; Grayson, Hancock, Metcalfe and Todd, 12; Larue, McCracken, McLean and Rockcastle, 11; and Anderson, Bell, Clay, Lawrence, Marion, Montgomery, Simpson and Washington, 10.
  • The long-term care daily report shows 772 active resident cases and 411 active staff cases, including 32 new residents and 51 new staff. It shows 293 resident deaths and four staff deaths can be newly attributed to Covid-19, for a total of 2,146 resident deaths and 13 staff deaths since the pandemic came to Kentucky in March.
  • Kentucky hospitals have 1,566 Covid-19 patients (up 27 from Monday); 391 in intensive-care units (up 17); and 228 of those on a ventilator (up 25). The share of ICU patients on ventilators is a high 58.3% and has generally increased in the last week.
  • Three of the hospital readiness regions are reporting their ICU beds at least 80% full: Barren River, 85.19%; the easternmost region, 84.56%; and Lake Cumberland, 97.78%.
  • As of Monday, the K-12 school dashboard showed 434 new students and 186 new staff had tested positive for the coronavirus, with 2,507 students and 331 staff quarantined, but 655 schools had not reported any data.
  • Among others, The New York Times is keeping tabs on how how many people in each state have received at least one coronavirus vaccine shot, and how many have received two. In Kentucky, it reports that 6.3% have received one shot, and 0.7% have received two. It also shows a table of who is eligible in each state to get the vaccine. In Kentucky, that includes health-care workers, adults who are 70 and older and some other essential workers, but local variations in supply and demand mean that some people not in those groups have been vaccinated. Click here to see the NYT Coronavirus Vaccine Tracker.
  • Louisville has launched the “Masks for Kids” initiative to distribute face masks to thousands of local children as they move closer to resuming in-person classes, Billy Kobin reports for the Courier Journal. In addition to already established donations, the public is encouraged to donate new masks by dropping them off at any YMCA location in the Louisville region. “To think that the lack of a mask could be a barrier for a child to stay safe, or get back to school at the appropriate time, that’s unthinkable, and it’s unacceptable,”  said YMCA of Greater Louisville President and CEO Steve Tarver. “So together, we can eliminate this barrier.”
  • Norton Healthcare in Louisville has taken over the online waiting list for those 70 or older who are looking to get vaccinated after the city’s health department shut its site down, Deborah Yetter reports for the Courier Journal. The people on the health department’s list, which numbers about 60,000, should have received an email Tuesday directing them to sign up through Norton at People without online access may call 502-861-4499.
  • In a separate article, Yetter reports on the frustrations of Louisville’s seniors as they try to get vaccinated and officials seek solutions.
  • The Better Business Bureau warns people to look out for scammers who are calling people looking for Medicare and Medicaid information and trying to sign people up for a vaccination, or promising to get you higher on a vaccination list for money, WKYT reports. “Remember, the vaccination is free, and if you’re looking on the web to sign up for the shot, look for the “dot org” at the end of the website. It’s an indication the site is legitimate,” WKYT writes.
  • Health departments are informing their citizens that there are not enough vaccines for those who want it, including the Franklin County Health Department, reports The State Journal of Frankfort.
  • As Vice President Kamala Harris got her booster vaccine shot at the National Institutes of Health, she said she was “coming full circle” because her mother worked there: “I grew up then around science in a way that was taught to me by someone who was so profoundly passionate about a gift — which is the gift that scientists give to us — in that their whole reason for being is to see what can be unburdened by what has been. Their whole reason for being is to pursue what is possible for the sake of improving human life and condition. It is such a noble pursuit.”
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