69 more Kentuckians, a record, dead from Covid-19, but other metrics keep trending down; four regional vaccine sites to open

Ky. Health News graph; dates are those on which deaths were added to the list after review of cases.

Kentucky Health News chart, from state data

By Melissa Patrick
Kentucky Health News

Thursday was a day for good news and bad news in Kentucky about the pandemic.

Gov. Andy Beshear announced the state’s highest single-day number for Covid-19 deaths, 69. He also said the state’s new case and positive-test rates continue to trend down and four regional vaccination sites will open next week, with more to be announced over the next two weeks.

“Folks, our trends are going in the right way and that’s a good thing. And it’s because of your work wearing a mask, social distancing, cutting down on your contacts — thank you for that,” Beshear said at his last news briefing of the week. “The result of so many cases and of our exponential growth, and times when we were having five thousand cases in a day, is we are seeing significant loss that that creates.”

The new Covid-19 deaths (63 confirmed and six probable) brought the state’s death toll to 3,611. Over the last 14 days, the state has averaged 40.6 deaths per day, and the seven-day average is 44.3. Both are records. By comparison, the 7- and 14-day death averages in late December were in the low 20s.
Beshear said not all of the newly reported deaths are recent, because many of them must go through a review committee to confirm that the cause of death was Covid-19.
The governor reported 2,947 new coronavirus cases, bringing the seven-day rolling average down to 2,560, the lowest it’s been since Jan. 1. He said today’s case count is the lowest for a Thursday in the last month.

The share of Kentuckians who tested positive for the virus in the past seven days is 9.04%, the lowest it’s been since Dec. 30, when that rate was 9.09%.

Vaccination sites (from Dept. for Public Health map)

Vaccines: Beshear said four regional vaccination sites will open next week. One, in partnership with Kroger Health, will open Tuesday, Feb. 2, at the Kentucky Horse Park’s Alltech Arena. The site will offer 3,000 appointments in the first week. It will be open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and will schedule appointments one week at a time. Sign up at kroger.com/covidvaccine.

Another site will open in Danville, through a partnership with Ephraim McDowell Hospital. And two will open in Paducah, through partnerships with Western Baptist Hospital and Mercy Health-Lourdes Hospital. 

All the locations require an appointment, with no walk-in availability. As more vaccines become available, more regional sites will be opened, Beshear said. He said at least 64,000 shots will be given next week, up about 8,800 from the prior week, thanks to a supply boost from President Biden.

Beshear said with the four new sites, there will be 34 Kentucky locations offering vaccinations.

Health Commissioner Steven Stack again called for patience, noting that people need to recognize that not everyone will be able to get vaccinated in the first weeks, but “This will get better with time.”

Transportation Secretary Jim Gray, who is coordinating the logistics, said the additional regional sites will be announced as doses become available.

State graphic, amended by Kentucky Health News

Starting Monday, Feb. 1, Beshear said, vaccination priority will be given to those in Phase 1B, which includes persons who are 70 and older; others are willing educators and other school employees, who Beshear said should largely be done next week; and first responders, almost all vaccinated except the unwilling.Persons in Phases 1A and 1B will continue to remain eligible. Beshear added that there will be times when those in phase 1C will be vaccinated to ensure that each vaccination site administers 90% or more of all of its doses within seven days of arrival.

Beshear said the state had planned on being able to start immunizing those in phase 1C, which includes people 60 and older, essential workers and anyone over the age of 16 with high-risk health conditions, by the first week of February, but that has now been delayed at least several weeks, largely due to supply.

Stack said nearly 100,000 Kentuckians age 70 and older have received their first shot, leaving about 400,000 more to immunize.

The governor encouraged Kentuckians to visit vaccine.ky.gov to determine whether they are eligible for vaccination. The website will also recommend a vaccine location in their region. This information can also be obtained by calling 855-598-2246 between 8 a.m. and 7 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Long-term care: Beshear said case numbers in long-term care facilities are down again, reporting 26 more residents and 34 staff testing positive for the virus, and 692 residents and 364 staff having active cases. He attributed six more deaths to Covid-19, bringing total deaths from the facilities to 2,160.

Beshear said that this improvement could be the result of vaccination, noting that some of the residents and staff are getting their second doses and that many of the staff who were initially hesitant are now signing up for the vaccine.

“I believe our long-term care residents are better protected today than they were before they got the first vaccination, and that’s why we prioritized them,” he said.

Jonathan Alexander

Memorial: Beshear honored the life of Jonathan Alexander, who was a team member of the Transportation Cabinet’s Office of Information Technology. He died at age 43 on Jan. 23 from surgery complications and Covid-19.

Beshear said Alexander was known for his kindness and his work in helping others, having recently organized a fundraiser for restaurant workers whose work had been impacted by the pandemic and in his annual efforts to organize the Salvation Army Tree for OIT.
“Jonathan always said, ‘If you’re fortunate enough to be able to help somebody, do it. It’s an amazing experience’,” said Beshear. “Jonathan’s passing is such a loss for Kentucky. I hope we can learn from his words and do the right thing for our people.”
Gray, who had gotten to know Alexander as an employee, said, “His death was a blow to everyone who knew him.”
In other coronavirus news Thursday: 
  • The 69 fatalities were an Anderson County woman, 93; a Bath County woman and man, 90and 92; a Boyd County woman, 91; two Boyle County women, 76 and 77; a Boyle County man, 79; a Casey County woman, 90; four Daviess County men, 72, 80, 87 and 91; an Edmonson County man, 91; two Fayette County men, 57 and 80; a Fleming County woman and man, 101 and 73; a Graves County man, 79; three Hardin County women, 81 83 and 83; four Hardin County men, 53, 69, 73 and 89; two Harlan County women, 61 and 77; a Hart County man, 77; a Henderson County woman, 83; a Henry County man, 88; a Jackson County man, 83; three Jefferson County women, 75, 81 and 85; seven Jefferson County men, 62, 74, 77, 86, 88, 90 and 94; a Knox County woman, 83; a Lincoln County woman, 92; two McCracken County women, 77 and 80; a McCracken County man, 67; a Madison County woman, 80; a Marshall County man, 72; two Mercer County women, 80 and 95; an Oldham County woman, 83; two Oldham County men, 71 and 87; a Perry County woman, 71; a Pike County man, 59; a Pulaski County man, 64; a Rowan County woman, 80; a Shelby County woman and man 84 and 74; a Taylor County man, 77; a Todd County woman, 72; a Warren County woman, 74; three Washington County women, 69, 83 and 94; a Washington County man, 41; a Wayne County man, 63; and a Webster County woman and man, 89 and 71.
  • Only one county has an incidence rate of more than 100 new cases per 100,000 residents in the past seven days: Clinton, at 103.5.
  • Counties with 10 or more new cases were: Jefferson, 433; Fayette, 218; Kenton, 138; Daviess, 104; Greenup, 104; Boone, 87; Hardin, 70; Madison, 70; Campbell, 67; Laurel, 61; Bullitt, 55; Warren, 52; Pike, 49; Jessamine, 44; Calloway, 39; Pulaski, 39; Boyd, 38; Barren, 34; Graves, Hopkins and Whitley, 33; Johnson and Knox, 31; Harlan, 30; Floyd and Nelson, 29; Shelby, 28; McCracken, 27; Christian and Marshall, 26; Bourbon, 25; Henderson, Meade and Scott, 23; Lincoln, 22; Anderson, Boyle, Grayson and Rowan, 21; Grant and Woodford, 20; Bell, Letcher and Taylor, 19; Franklin and Perry, 18; Harrison, Hart and Logan, 17; Metcalfe, 16; Leslie and McCreary, 15; Butler, Casey, Clay, Morgan and Wayne, 14; Carter, Clinton and Spencer, 13; Henry and Larue, 12; Allen, Fleming, Marion, Ohio, Oldham and Washington, 11; and Cumberland, McLean, Rockcastle and Russell, 10.
  • Kentucky hospitals reported 1,561 patients with Covid-19; with 370 in intensive care; and 205 of those on ventilators. All those numbers were lower than the day before.
  • The K-12 school dashboard shows that this week 950 students and 377 staff have tested positive and 4,750 students and 629 staff are quarantined; 388 schools have not reported any data this week.
  • Two hospital readiness regions had intensive-care units above 80% capacity: Lake Cumberland, 93.3%, and and the easternmost region, at 86.8%. Northern Kentucky is at 81.92% overall hospital capacity.
  • Amy Cubbage, Beshear’s general counsel, gave an unemployment update, and encouraged Kentuckians to reference a new “What You Need to Know” graphic to learn more about how to keep receiving benefits, or begin receiving them for the first time. Click here for the news release with an overview of the information she shared.
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