Beshear says 119 new vaccine sites will bring total to 410; state’s positive-test rate keeps falling; other metrics remain mostly stable

State Department for Public Health map, adapted by Kentucky Health News; click it to enlarge.

By Melissa Patrick
Kentucky Health News
Gov. Andy Beshear announced that the state will open 119 new coronavirus vaccination sites next week, bringing the total to 410.
Six of the new locations will be regional sites; three are federally qualified health centers; 10 are at Walmart stores; 10 are at Kroger stores; and 90 will be at Walgreens stores. The new regional sites will be in Mount Vernon, Princeton, Burkesville, Richmond, Leitchfield, and Muhlenberg County.
“Don’t let anybody tell you different; vaccinations are going incredibly well in Kentucky,” Beshear said, referring to a report that gave Kentucky a low ranking on vaccine delivery. His administration said the report was misleading because it counted second doses and last week’s weather fouled up the rollout.
Beshear said even though Kentucky only got 6,825 new doses last week because of the weather, the state was able to use all of its extra and ended up vaccinating 41,835 people with a first dose.
“Last week was disrupted . . . We used every remaining bit that was out there,” he said. “We will never judge ourselves in Kentucky by how quick the second dose gets to people. When we start doing that, it means we are sending it out willy-nilly. Every single second dose is for a specific individual that we want to get to that higher level of effectiveness of the vaccine. That’s what the FDA tells us to do. That’s what the CDC tells us to do. And that’s what we’re gonna do.”
The state’s daily vaccination report shows 646,836 Kentuckians have received their first dose of either the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine. That’s 14.7% of the state’s population, said Beshear.
Lt. Gov. Jacqueline Coleman said transit agencies are offering free or reduced-cost transportation to and from vaccine appointments. She said such services are alreasy operating in 99 of the 120 counties. To find transportation near you go to or call 855-598-2246.
“We want all Kentuckians who wish to get vaccinated to be able to do so, and we do not want transportation to be a barrier,” Coleman said.

Starting Monday, March 1, Kentuckians in Category 1C become eligible for the vaccine. The category includes essential workers, people 60 and older, and people over 16 with certain health conditions. Beshear continues to ask sites to prioritize people 60 and older.

Asked why hair stylists and barbers weren’t included in Category 1C, Beshear first commended them for doing a good job in following public-health guidelines, but said they would not be in 1C because the CDC had not included them.
Beshear confirmed that about 1,000 Ohioans signed up at a Kroger facility in Covington to get a vaccine. He said Kroger has since fixed the process so that can’t happen again, and he would ask the federal government to send Kentucky doses from Ohio’s allocation to make up for those doses.
He said the Ohioans will be allowed to get the shots: “They’re people, too, and they can spread it across the river.”
Daily numbers: The share of Kentuckians testing positive for the virus in the past seven days was 5.67%, the lowest that rate’s been since Oct. 24, but Beshear announced 1,447 new cases of the Thursday, bringing the seven-day average to 1,298, up for the third straight day.
He said this week’s case numbers are on track to be a bit higher than last week’s, but blamed that on less testing being last week because of the weather. For example, he said about 14,000 tests were done Wednesday, but only 9,600 were done last Wednesday.
From the Monday start of the reporting week through Thursday, there have been 4,780 cases; the same period last week had 3,958.
The state reports a new-case rate of 24.7 per 100,000 people over the last seven days. Counties with more than double that rate are McCreary, at 49.7 per 100,000; Owsley, 51.8; Laurel, 53.1; Russell, 56.6; Taylor, 60.4; and Caldwell, 269. The state ranks 10th in new cases, The New York Times reports.
Hospital numbers remain steady, with 843 people hospitalized in Kentucky with Covid-19 (down 40 from yesterday; 220 of them in intensive care (down 8); and 122 of those on ventilators (up 10).
Three of the state’s 10 hospital readiness regions are using at least 80% of their intensive-care beds: Lake Cumberland, 91.1%; Barren River, 84.3%; and the easternmost region, from Lee to Pike counties, 80.9%.
Beshear announced 43 more deaths on Thursday, 39 of them confirmed and four probable. That brings the death toll to 4,570. Deaths are announced after cases are reviewed for confirmation, which can take weeks.
The governor said a cursory glance at his list shows that the “vast majority” of the deaths happened in February, a “decent amount” happened in January and eight or fewer were what he called “historic deaths,” meaning that they have been held up by the review committee for one reason or another.
“This hasn’t gotten easer in 11 months,” he said. “Every day you feel people’s loss.”
The 14-day death average is 25.6, were it was when a climb was in progress on Jan. 11 that ended up reaching a high of 47.3 on Jan. 29.
Asked when church capacities could be raised above 50%, Beshear noted that the limit has long been only advisory, and that if the state continues in the direction its on, “There is a lot of new opportunity.”
In other pandemic news Thursday:
  • The 43 fatalities reported Thursday were a Bell County man, 73; a Boone County man, 95; an Elliott County man, 78; a Fayette County man, 91; two Floyd County women, 59 and 80; a Floyd County man, 72; a Graves County man, 75; a Hardin County woman, 60; a Henry County man, 70; a Hopkins County woman, 21; four Jefferson County women, 70, 76, 78 and 81; seven Jefferson County men, 57, 63, 79, 79, 81, 90 and 97; a Kenton County woman, 95; two Larue County men, 73 and 79; a Lawrence County woman, 67; a McCracken County woman, 78; a McCracken County man, 79; a McCreary County man, 62; two Madison County men, 84 and 85; a Marshall County man, 65; two Meade County men, 72 and 87; a Menifee County man, 49; a Nelson County woman, 85; two Nelson County men, 89 and 93; a Perry County man, 72; a Pulaski County man, 58; a Shelby County woman, 71; a Spencer County man, 87; and a Taylor County man, 72.
  • Counties with more than 10 new cases were Jefferson, 220; Caldwell, 187; Fayette, 78; Boone, 43; Daviess, 40; Hardin and Scott, 37; Kenton, 36; Warren, 34; Bullitt, 30; Jessamine, 28; Laurel and Madison, 27; Johnson, 26; Whitley, 24; Taylor, 19; McCracken, Montgomery, Pike and Shelby, 18; Clark, 17; Adair and Christian, 16; Barren and McCreary, 15; Bell and Campbell, 14; Floyd, 13; Marshall, Nelson, Oldham and Perry, 12; and Knox, 11.
  • In long-term-care facilities, 174 residents and 168 staff have active cases of the virus, with nine residents and 11 staffers newly positive. Beshear attributed 15 more deaths to the virus in the facilities, bringing their Covid-19 death toll to 2,258.
  • Click here for more information about unemployment insurance in the governor’s news release.
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